Selling Books, Part Four: Be Professional

You will sell few books if you are not professional at all times. Authors that are serious about building loyal fans are also experts at being an author. You cannot be an expert, if you are not professional.

Not sure? Then wait.

If you are not absolutely confident about what you are writing in a blog, Facebook post, or Tweet, then do not write it. The same goes for speaking. If you are not one hundred percent confident in what you are saying, then do not say it. Breaking this rule will haunt you and destroy your career as an author.

Hate = Zero Book Sales

I always tell authors, “Decide right now if you are going to use social media and your blogs for personal reasons, or to be an author. You cannot have it both ways.”

Unfortunately, I have not been able to hammer this point enough. An author focuses outward, not inward. Your readers and potential readers, take priority over your personal life if you want to sell books. You should not even say something like, “I’m having a bad day…oh well.” Keep everything positive, or do not say it.

There are readers that have considered purchasing your book, but have to wait. The reason has nothing to do with you. It could be they are short on money right now. If you post something ugly, then you will lose all those readers that you worked hard to build a relationship with.

Showing = Sales 

Fiction novels are a tough sell, because you are grouped in with 700,000 authors. One of the best ways to make book sales is to show your target audience your talents. You have already been working on your readers needs, so now show them your book. Post five or ten chapters for the world to read.

Warning! If you are professional author, then you worked on excelling at reading, storytelling, and polishing your novel. If you show the world something that could have been improved, that will destroy any chance of a sale from the reader.

Don’t be desperate.

I attended a local event where about ten self-published authors had tables. This is one of the few times I did not introduce myself, but rather just played the role of a reader looking for a book. As I finished doing my walk through and spoke to each author, I felt bad for them. Here are the mistakes they made:

  • Several authors were sitting. You do not look professional, or even motivated, if you are sitting down. If you need to stand for three hours, then do that. No one said selling books was easy.
  • An author said this to me, “Well, the illustrations are pretty good I think. Not sure why people like them.” Yes, those were his exact words. He did not mean to put down his own book. The problem was that the author lacked the confidence needed to pitch his book.
  • An older gentleman wrote a book based on his grand kids. That was a great way to start. Then, the author told me, “My book is in the Library of Congress.” That statement showed his inexperience. Then, he said this to me, “My book is only fifteen dollars. Just pull a five and ten out of your wallet and it is yours.” I said no thank you and the guy had a look as if I crushed his world.
  • Not one of the ten authors shook my hand and introduced themselves. It was all about their book. No one showed any interest in the reader.

Listen, even John Grisham sold his book out of the trunk of his car at festivals. He thought about quitting, because he could not make a sale. And the book he was trying to sell was, A Time to Kill.

Stay professional, stay positive, and the sales will come.

Ron Knight 

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Ron Knight

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  1. Wise words Yoda, very wise words. Many of my readers have become friends. But then maybe my head isn’t completely *in the game*, because I feel that two new fans is an achievement. And I’d like them to know me, and I’d like to know them (and what they like to read).

  2. This entire series of articles is very useful. A lot to digest. Good thing I’m hungry!

    Thanks Ron,