10 things your book needs to sell


10 things your book needs to sell besides readers.

When your goal is to make a living as an author you want to write a book that sells.

Duh. I know. It goes without saying.

But selling your book isn’t as easy as it sounds.

No one book will appeal to every reader out there. Different books appeal to people for various reasons. But there are things that good – selling – books usually have in common.

Publishing isn’t easy. Especially when the goal is publishing for profit.

There are many things to think about and to execute to the best of your ability. As an authorpreneur, you don’t want to leave anything on the table.

You can’t afford to leave anything on the table.

  • Good cover – the cover draws the reader in. Whether on a table in a bookstore or virtually as an ebook, the cover is the author’s chance to get a new reader interested. Since authors and readers rely on social media having a great cover is an even bigger asset to your marketing strategy.
  • Enticing back blurb – this tells the potential reader enough about your story to make them want to read the rest and find out what happens. It’s a tease, the first bite of a double chocolate cake that leaves you wanting more.
  • Engaging characters – it’s human nature to want to connect with the hero/heroine of a story and see them succeed. Your characters need to be multi-faceted, realistic, and humanistic. Create a character your readers can root for. Especially if you’re writing a series. It will keep people coming back.
  • A plot that moves forward – there is a difference between literary and commercial fiction when it comes to plot pace.  For purposes of this post, I’m talking about commercial. You want your plot to move forward fast enough to keep the reader engaged but not too fast that you lose them. A book is full of obstacles and successes that continue until the final resolution. It’s how you spread them out that sets the pace.
  • Change/outcome/growth in character – characters aren’t perfect. I mean they can be, but it would be kind of boring if they started and ended at the same place. You want your characters to have flaws and problems they are working on. Your reader needs to identify with them and want them to succeed. And get excited at the end when they’ve changed for the better somehow.
  • Target audience – marketing is a huge part of book sales. You need to have a good understanding of who your target audience is so you can direct your marketing to that demographic. You don’t want to try and sell to everyone. I wrote an in-depth post on this topic here.
  • Marketing – this is the key to creating your full-time author career. You have to attract new readers and get them to purchase your books all while writing and releasing new books for them to buy. It can be quite the balancing act and get overwhelming since it can easily overtake your time if you don’t manage it well.
  • Title – You want an impactful title that will, much like the cover, grab the reader and pull them in to notice your book, pick it up, and read more so they buy it.
  • Exciting story – This is kind of a no-brainer but one I feel I must mention. Fiction is entertainment, and you want to write a book that entertains your reader.
  • Consistent writing and marketing – To build a career as an author you have to consistently write, market, and repeat over and over and over. If you don’t your sales will falter.
  • Some of these elements are story driven, and some are marketing driven. It goes to show that you can’t have one without the other if you truly want to make a living at writing. Trying to balance writing and marketing is the hardest part of the job. You need to constantly be staying up to date with the current marketing trends, so you know what’s working.

Joanna Penn just recently updated her book How To Market A Book: Third Edition (Books for Writers Book 2). It’s full of great tips. If you’re serious about making a living at this writing thing the I’d encourage you to check it out.

Happy Writing!

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— laina

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