Let me start by saying I’m a terrible salesman.
This isn’t because I don’t know how to do it, but rather that I don’t care for it. I detest the idea of selling someone a sucky product or a good product that they don’t really need or want, and let’s face it, a big part of sales is to convince someone that they need or want something when they really didn’t start out that way.
But let’s say you have a good product, like my friend who wrote some cool books that are available on Amazon. There are certain methods of letting people know about these books that are preferable over other methods.
Years ago I worked at a radio station that ran paid programs all day and night. The client would buy a block of time and their program would air in the time-slot they paid for. The station would give their program another run in the early morning hours, when there was hardly any audience.
One time I was on the phone with someone while in the studio and the boss overheard me say that we charge for the first airing of a particular program, which was at three in the afternoon, and we gave the client a “freebie” play at two in the morning.
When I got off the phone the boss admonished me to never use the term “freebie,” but rather to refer to it as a “bonus run.” I didn’t work in sales for the station, so I didn’t know any of that stuff and I thought it was kind of petty at the time. Now I realize he had a point.
As much as I detest sales, there are certain techniques and terminology that come into play that are more effective, and one can either use them for something good or something evil. Hey, it’s just like knives! You can use them to cut your meat or stab someone, it’s up to you!
So, let’s not stab anyone here, let’s instead just learn a more effective way to carve our collective turkeys.
What got my attention was that my friend, who admits that he has all the marketing and sales experience of an Albanian Yak, was constantly posting phrases such as this on his Twitter and Facebook streams..
“You can now buy my latest novel at Amazon! Click this link!”
“I’m having a contest to give away a copy of my book, click here to enter and while you’re at it look at the other ones that are for sale!”
“My book is now only 99 cents in the Amazon store!”
All I saw was “ME,” “MY” and “MONEY.”
So I skyped him, because we’re pals and I knew he’d be able to take some constructive criticism. I prefaced it with saying that it’s all just my opinion and I’m certainly not any marketing expert, but that I know of preferable methods for promotion and it all pretty-much comes down to the wording.
First of all, people don’t want to hear about money.
The money is what they’re going to (hopefully) send to YOU, so leave it out of the equation. When they click the link you provide they’ll see how much something costs, so let them get there before they get to that part. Everything you promote should be about what you can do for them, and since you’re not sending them any money then don’t mention money.
Also, when using adjectives such as “wonderful” and “amazing,” write it in the third-person, so as not to make yourself seem like a pompous ass.
BAD: “Check out my fantastic new ebook about Albanian Yak migration that’s now available on Amazon for only 99 cents!”
BETTER: “Rhodester’s fantastic new ebook on Albanian Yak migration is now available on Amazon for only 99 cents!”
BEST: “Rhodester’s fantastic new ebook on Albanian Yak migration is now available on Amazon!”
My friend also posted this, which he said was only so fellow writers could track his progress, but the bad part was that everyone could see it…
“My novel sold 14 copies yesterday, and 19 today!”
Granted, he was excited about that and when a person hasn’t sold anything and then alla-sudden they sell 14 copies, it’s kind of cool. It’s also cool to his wife, friend and brother or sister.
But if you don’t know him and you don’t know it’s a first-time self-published novel that’s just been launched, then 14 seems like an incredibly low number. And 14 sales in one day translates to only 14 people out of the billions on this planet who are actually interested enough to plunk down a buck for the thing.
I told him to let me know when it’s 14,000 a day.
The thing is, ratings, numbers, and stats don’t necessarily translate to quality, but LOW ratings, numbers, and stats don’t do anyone any good at all when it comes to promoting something.
My friend asked about linking to reviews of his book on Amazon. Here’s how I feel about pushing that angle…
I’ve been married for over twenty years and if my wife says I should check out something, there’s an incredibly high chance I’m going to like it. Not only do I know her pretty damned well, but she knows me and what I like.
But if I read a glowing report from Alfred Schmoozenburger about my friend’s book, why should I give it any weight at all? Maybe Alfred is a complete kook! Maybe, if I knew Alfred, I’d find that we don’t agree on a single damned thing in this life, including our taste in fiction.
Apologies if your name is Alfred Schmoozenberger. For more than the obvious reason.
This is why reviews don’t pack much of a punch for me, unless I know and respect the source. If you can get a well-known author or celebrity to endorse your book, then, by all means, use it like crazy in your promotion, otherwise, leave Alfred at Amazon.
I was relieved my friend took my suggestions and adjusted his methods accordingly. I don’t like giving advice, especially unsolicited, but in this case I just want to see him sell more books and I think he will, now that he’s changing his approach a bit.
In summation, if you have something to promote, then remember these points..
- It’s not about money. It’s about the customer/reader/viewer.
- It’s not about you, it’s about the product. Write promos in the third person or better yet, get someone else to say how wonderful your product is.
- Full reviews don’t matter much unless the reviewer matters to the reader.
- Numbers don’t matter unless they’re high. If you don’t mind straining your ethics, you can make them seem high…
WRONG: “My book sold 10 copies yesterday and 20 today!”
RIGHT: “Rhodester’s book sales doubled overnight!”
I probably wouldn’t even go there unless my sales had gone from 10,000 to 20,000 in 24 hours and even then, it’s not about what a great product I have for people, it’s just saying that 20,000 knuckleheads like it.
But most of them are probably Albanian Yaks.