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Are You Passionate About Selling Your Book?
Do you believe in your book? Stop and consider that again: Do you believe in your book? Do you? Do you really? Are you passionate about it? Do you think about it all day and all night? When someone asks about it, do your eyes light up? Does your heart start thumping? Do you grin like some silly, star-struck teenager because you're so in love with your work that you want to tap dance across the rooftops and sing about it to the whole wide world?
Okay, that's great, but is your book any good?
Did you pause? Did you have to think about it? Did you maybe gulp a bit? Or did you answer "yes" without a moment's hesitation? Without batting an eye? Without stumbling over the word or second-guessing yourself or turning the statement into a question?
Can you look me in the eye and say, "Buy my book—I promise you won't regret it"?
If you can't... then why are you trying to sell it to me?
Become an Audacious Believer in Your Book
At one point during my former media/communications career, for a little over four and a half years, I headed the editorial and Web departments for a magazine even its own ad sales people didn't read. It wasn't a bad magazine; the salespeople just didn't care about what was in it. Just ask them, and they'd tell you: their job was to sell the magazine, not read it.
As authors, we are our own salespeople. We are the champions of our own cause. Whether we've published our books ourselves or someone else has published our books for us, we are the main stakeholders. We are the inventors and the promoters. We have conceived the idea, and we have seen the idea through its creation. If we care deeply enough about the idea to create a tangible product out of it, then surely we care deeply enough about the product to sell it.
Good salespeople believe in their products, and that makes other people believe in them, too. Corporate trainer Stevie Ray said it best at an Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference a few years back: "People don't buy facts. They buy emotions."
When you tell people about your book, can they sense your excitement? Can they see your passion? Can they get swept up in your vision? Can they feel your audacious faith? Can they tell that you, of all people, are moving with the direction and the purpose of one who is finding genuine meaning in this work?
Perhaps you've gathered by now that I'm not just talking about selling books here. I'm also talking about defining your reasons for selling books. Who are you? Why do you do what you do, as an author? What do you have to say to me, the reader? Why should I listen to you? What do you have to offer the world? How do you expect to get the world to stop and listen?
Do you believe in your book? I hope you do. I hope you didn't take the time to write if you don't believe in it.
More importantly: do you believe in yourself? Do you believe in your own authenticity as an author? Do you believe in what you're doing as an author? Do you believe that you're doing what you've been called to do with your work? Do you believe that God has set you on this path because this is what you're supposed to do?
I hope you do. If you don't believe in yourself, then why should I believe in you?
(But if authorship isn't actually your calling, that's okay, too. That's just the topic of a completely different article for another day altogether.)
Turn Your Creative Drive into a Creative Vision
If you're not asking yourself by now if I might be a little crazy, then maybe you know what I'm talking about. Don't worry, I wonder all the time if I might be crazy. I ask myself every few nights or so, while I'm in bed, staring at the ceiling, double checking my prayers to make sure I still feel that sense of urgency—that internal imperative to share my experience, strength, and hope with the world. That constant, nagging drive to give other people what I've been given over the years. That bone-deep conviction that words matter and a story can change lives... like my life has been changed.
I've always wanted to help people. Yeah, I know, it sounds clichéd and contrite. But I've always wanted to help people... somehow. In the last five years, other people have helped me more than I could have ever imagined I could be helped, and it's changed just about everything for me. That's turned my "want to help" into "need to give back what I've received."
Early in 2012, after a lot of soul-searching, an idea came to me. It wasn't a New Year's resolution or anything. It was just an idea.
See, I have a decade of experience as an author, editor, designer, and marketer. I've worked in the newspaper, magazine, and digital media markets. I've been a journalist, a Web designer, a PR/communications liaison, a copywriter, a graphic artist, a print/Web content director, an email marketer, a social marketer, a media strategist, and a consultant. I've written books (under several different names). I've published books (through a variety of different companies). I've edited other people's books. I've produced and promoted books. I co-founded an international book publishing company.
Bottom line: I know a lot about media and marketing, and I've always made my living by performing media and marketing services for other people. I've never put everything I know to full use. I've never taught other people how to perform media and marketing services for themselves. I usually end up doing it for them. So am I truly sharing my gifts to full potential?
It wasn't New Year's Eve, but it was close to it, the night I looked over at my husband and said, "Hey, what if I wrote a book called Everything I Know About Selling Books?"
My husband looked over at me and said, "That's a good idea."
So that was the idea. Like most good ideas, it went nowhere for a while. I came up with a catchier title for it. I wrote a few pages of notes, and I laid awake in bed for a few nights. That was about it at first.
Then on January 8, 2012, Jason Seiden wrote a blog post called "The Reality of Authenticity." It hit me like a gut-punch. I thought about it. I prayed about it. On January 11, 2012, I emailed Jason to ask if I could use his blog post as the foreword to a book I wanted to write about selling books. Jason said yes. He didn't even ask why.
I laid awake in bed for a few more nights. I questioned myself. I questioned my faith.
On January 15, 2012, I decided I was actually going to write this book. I sat down and started.
A couple of months later, God called me to pursue ministry education, and priorities changed. Life is like that. It doesn't mean I'm a failure. It doesn't mean I quit. It means I was present enough in my own life to see what was going on around me, and I decided to pay attention when God said He might have something different in mind for me. So I hit pause on my writing project at the time, and I started school as a second-career ministry student. Focus shifted for a while.
Now, as a Ministerial Student through the Northwest District of The Wesleyan Church, I'm expecting to finish my Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies this September. And the old creative fires are burning again. The talents and the desires and the impulses are bursting from the seams. I have so much I want to share with the world that I don't know where to start. I want to share my publishing experience. I want to share my media/marketing know-how. I want to share my training and development skills. I want to share my inductive Bible study techniques and methodologies for applying the Word to real life. I want to share my experience of addiction and recovery, loss and redemption. I want to share my story so other people can see how God uses every single weird and wonderful twist and turn of our lives to help guide us toward His plan and purpose for us.
What Does Your Goal as an Author Look Like?
Part of a successful self-promotion strategy for authors involves a clearly defined sense of identity and intentionality about one's book and one's goals for selling it. I'm right in the middle of that process of discovery all over again, and I invite you to come along with me on the journey. Do you know what that path looks like for you right now?
I don't know exactly what road God is going to lead me down in the future, but I know I have a lot to give right now. At heart, I'm still a writer. I have a lot of writing to do. Like most writers, I pick up inspiration from bizarre sources. Unlike most writers, I have at various points (first reluctantly and then grudgingly and then unwillingly and finally enthusiastically) learned to view myself as a salesperson and my books as my products.
That's the difference between a writer and an author. Writers just write stuff; authors do something about it. I was inspired to see things differently.
Over the years, I've been inspired by other authors, by employers, by employees, by university instructors, by small business owners, by corporate training seminars, by staff meetings, by sales training videos, by marketing conferences, by leadership columns, by spiritual guidance, by junk mail, by retail shopping experiences, by motivational speakers, by social media specialists, by church services, by book study groups, by professional advice, by personal relationships, by random encounters, and most of all, by my own overwhelming, undefined, unrelenting impulse to see clear direction in my actions... to develop an ideal for my values and a vision for my life... to work toward that vision, and to share my work with others who are seeking a vision... to fulfill the vision God is guiding me toward with every new step I take and every new door He opens for me each day.
In early 2012, I read a book that changed my life. I didn't just read it; I put it into practice. Maybe you've heard of the book. It's called . This book was introduced to me right in the middle of a spiritual crisis that led me to leave the media business to see what else God had in mind for me. This book came into my life at just the right time to change my life. Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible
The author is a young man named Steven Furtick who challenges all of us to stop being sissies about our prayers and to examine the seeds of greatness that have been planted in us throughout our lives, so we can connect the dots and accomplish the amazing things we are called to accomplish in our lifetimes.
That's the gist of it. Furtick says it better: "In short, I’m out to activate your audacious faith. To inspire you to ask God for the impossible. And in the process, to reconnect you with your God-sized purpose and potential."
I've come a long way since I read that book for the first time, and I'm still deepening my own connection with that purpose and potential. Meanwhile, what does audacious faith have to do with becoming a better salesperson for your books?
Well, I can't speak for you, but my audacious faith is inspiring me to unearth my authentic me—the inner me who believes 100% in what I have to offer you. And if I believe in me, I guarantee you'll be more likely to believe in me. And if I can encourage you to believe in yourself and to embrace the calling on your life, I believe you'll learn how to become a better salesperson for your books.
But don't worry, I have nothing to sell you at the moment. I'm just putting the pieces together right now. I'm following the imperative to restart that drive to share what I know about selling books. Because I believe that since you're reading this article right now, then you probably feel like you may have a calling on your life. And if that's the case, then I'm here to tell you: don't ever undervalue that. Don't sell yourself short. Do you believe in your book? Then do something about it.
Right now, I want to hear your thoughts. Why did you write your book? What inspired you to do it? What inspired you to sit down and start? What makes you believe in what you're doing?