It’s tough to tell where you get all of your assumptions. Maybe you heard something about selling books during a writing conference presentation and it stuck deep within your brain. Perhaps you read something online and it seemed too true to be fake. No matter where you got your information, whether it’s correct or far off base, it’s pretty clear that your mindset makes a major impact on your ability to sell books.
There are dozens of tactics that can improve your sales, many of which we’ve covered elsewhere on the Author Marketing Institute, but it’s often a combination of tactics and what you believe that propels you to success. If you already know all the right things to do, then the last step may be to get your mind right. Here are five false beliefs about selling books that you should change to become more successful:
1. Writing Books Is Magic
Creativity has a reputation as a sort of magical phenomenon that comes to successful writers in a burst of inspiration. In reality, there’s no fairy dust. The majority of authors cajole their creativity to function on a schedule so it shows up when they sit down to do the work.
The inspiration epiphany myth of creativity has been perpetuated by the top dogs of the industry for years. It’s allowed the most successful authors to position themselves as gifted magicians instead of the hard workers they truly are. Like counting beans, creativity is a job. The sooner you internalize that, the better it’ll be for your author career.
2. I’m Not a Salesperson
Along the same wavelength, aspiring authors like to label themselves as artists, not salespeople. Well, there’s good news and bad news on that front. The bad news is that anybody who has a product for sale is a salesperson. That includes painters, musicians, and artists.
Here’s the good news: book sales improve as you become a better salesperson. Determining when to be an artist and when to concentrate on sales can be a tough balance to strike, but you can improve on both accounts throughout your author journey. Take classes and read books on craft, and listen to podcasts or sign up for webinars on marketing. When you concentrate on improving both aspects of your platform, you’re bound to sell more books over time.
3. It Should Be Easy
This false belief really gets at the heart of why some potential authors hesitate when they get into the thick of things. Somewhere along the line they’ve been told that their true purpose in life should be easy. After working impossibly hard to finish a first draft or a short story, this prospective indie writer applies the “myth of easy” and thinks that writing may not be for them. It’s an unfortunate error in judgment that can have an impact on everything you do in life.
Who knows where this myth sprung up. Maybe the media portrayed prolific authors as gods and goddesses so many times that everybody started to believe it. Enough people thought the writing process was simple and easy for authors like James Patterson and Stephen King, so they figured writing should feel like a joy and a perfect fit if they’re meant to be part of the esteemed group.
Writing is hard for everybody. It gets easier when you’ve written a dozen novels, but it never becomes an uncontested slam-dunk. In fact, most things that are worth doing are difficult. When something makes you uncomfortable or afraid, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Sometimes, a task is hard because you simply haven’t done it enough times. Don’t give up when something gets hard. If you do, then you’ll pave the way for everyone who’s willing to fight hard for their dream job.
4. I Can Do This Alone
Many writers are introverts. Some are hardcore introverts who’d rather hole up in a hotel for six weeks writing a novel than interact with even a minimal number of people. When this independent introvertedness is part of your very being, you may want to convince yourself that you can do this whole author thing without getting anyone else involved. This is an incorrect assumption.
First of all, there are the basic necessities of any indie author. You need an editor and a cover designer to make sure your book looks good inside and out. Beyond that, however, you’ll need to get in touch with plenty of people to ensure your book’s success.
Connecting with peers as part of a mastermind group or private forum can help you learn tips and tricks on both the marketing and writing sides. Banding together with other authors as part of group promotions like social media events and box sets can improve sales and lead to long-standing friendships. Additionally, you’ll need to connect with your fans through social media, podcasts, and email to develop a strong readership for your work.
Writing may be something that you do alone. Authorship requires a lot more people than you might think.
5. There’s a Formula
Everybody’s always looking for a formula. They want to find the exact framework for the million-dollar outline, or they need to know the perfect keywords or blurb to shoot their books to top of the bestseller lists. The problem is that there’s no such thing as a formula that works every time. There are patterns that present themselves occasionally, but one person’s path to success won’t always work as a model for your books.
Instead of trying to copy the success of others, strive to create your own self-publishing path. Learn from the tactics of the best and brightest but leave time for experimentation too. There’s no “Easy” button for being an indie author, but through hard work, you can create a career path that’s both unique and rewarding.
Rage Against the Myth-Making Machine
The myths of self-publishing are starting to break down. Authors can write 12 books a year that are just as polished as trad pubs. Indies can earn money beyond Amazon alone. The less you’re willing to believe the myths of writing and authorship, the more likely you are to have a fruitful and truthful author career.