When I noticed that some of the same people who were buying Michael Hyatt’s new book were also buying my eBook, I saw an opportunity. Since Mike was making a mad dash for the best sellers list, I decided to piggyback on his success.
So I dropped the price of my already-affordable eBook a couple of bucks to put it in even more of an impulse buy range. (It’s still there, by the way, but won’t be for long.)
Why did I do this? Because I’m trying to overcome the greatest enemy every new author faces: anonymity.
Not book stores or other authors or the eBook revolution. Irrelevance — that’s what kills you before you begin. And if you’re trying to get your words noticed, you face the same antagonist. Here’s why:
We don’t read authors we don’t know
Of course, there are exceptions to this. You and I might take a chance on a random book we’ve never heard about, but not very often. And usually we mitigate these risks by taking them at the library or in the bargain bin. More often than not, we humans naturally avoid taking chances with our wallets.
We read books from names we recognize. This is why we keep reading those authors, too.
So what does the undiscovered author who has a message the world needs to hear do? She finds a way to get her name out there. And the best way to do that? Be generous.
If you’re stingy with the world, it will be stingy right back at you. The reverse is also often true.
We don’t buy books we haven’t heard about
Let’s be clear: Authors don’t sell books; they spread ideas. Don’t believe me? Look at the following bestsellers:
- Harry Potter: A boy finds out he was born to wizard parents and destroyed the most powerful dark lord when he was a baby.
- StrengthsFinder 2.0: Instead of trying to improve your weakness, each person should focus on what they do best.
- Blue Like Jazz: Jazz doesn’t resolve; neither does God (despite what the televangelists say).
- The Hunger Games: In the future, kids are forced to kill each other for TV entertainment.
Those are just a few, but each offers a unique and interesting idea (whether it’s fiction or nonfiction). Sure, the writing is good (that’s a prerequisite), but beyond that, the idea behind the book is remarkable. That’s what made the books spread and ultimately sell.
You get a book to sell by making an idea spread. And you can try to spam or serve your way to the top, but only one way ultimately wins.
We want what other people have
If you could give away a thousand copies of your book to sell 10,000, would you do it? What about 10,000 to sell 100,000? Most would say yes, but few are willing to be that generous. And that, my friends, is where you fail.
Once an idea tips, it goes from nobody caring about it to everybody talking about it. You have to work and earn your way into this realm, but once you get there, it doesn’t matter how much you charge for a book: $5, $15, $25. People want it, because other people have it.
But until you get there, readers will nickel and dime you for extra pennies. Instead of arguing and haggling, why not take all the energy and spend it on getting your idea to spread?
This is a lot more fun than the alternative
I haven’t mastered this by any means. I’m learning this stuff as I share it. But I can honestly tell you that building a platform through generosity is a lot more fun than building one through stinginess.
If you have something people need to hear about — a story, an idea, a whatever — why not quit trying to sell it and instead find ways to get the idea to spread?
When giving is its own reward, what do you have to lose?
By the way, if you haven’t grabbed You Are a Writer on Amazon, get it here. And just for good measure, I’ll give a free review copy to the first 25 people (plus another random five) who leave a comment on this post (make sure your email address is included). All you have to do is answer this question:
What’s the greatest obstacle writers face? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: zigazou76 (Creative Commons)
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