Friday, January 29, 2010

The Self-Confidence to Sell More Books

What if a book's success depends more on the author's self-confidence, rather than what's written on the page? After training over 200 authors, from beginners to bestsellers, an interesting pattern has caught my attention.

For example, I've noticed that my author clients with a high self-esteem tended to be more creative with their marketing plans and actually sold more books. In contrast, those with low self-esteems struggled to implement new marketing activities. Predictably, their book sales languished. I'm not saying there is a direct correlation, but there is definitely a pattern that bears attention.

The problem is that there are real consequences when an author allows low self-confidence to affect their book marketing efforts. For instance, he or she will tend to:
  • Avoid building an online or offline community of readers.
  • Balk at developing peer-to-peer relationships with influential leaders.
  • Avoid finding and contacting large reader groups who could buy books in quantity.
  • Ignore spur of the moment media opportunities, such as tying into national headlines.
  • Shun speaking events or promoting books to the audience.
  • Lack consistency with key marketing tactics, such as blogging or sending out newsletters.
Global management consultant, Alan Weiss, says, "There is no music if you don't blow your own horn." This statement is profoundly true for book marketing, at both the author and publisher levels. Writers, editors, and marketing staff must believe strongly enough in a message to promote that book above the noise of all the competition. Yet, this can only happen when there's an ardent belief in a manuscript accompanied by the enthusiasm to tell people about it.

Oddly, self-confidence issues seem to especially plague the fiction and religious publishing communities. For example, I know novelists who are scared to appear in public. Likewise, I've met Christian authors who avoid marketing their books, because of the misguided notion to appear humble. They make pious statements, such as "It's not godly to draw attention to myself." But, these attitudes are usually a disguise for a low self-esteem. The reality is that they don't want to draw attention to themselves, because they're struggling to feel worthy - ironically before a God who loves them and fans who like their books.

Please don't think that I'm advocating for writers to shamelessly plug their books. Some people go overboard and develop a negative reputation for being pushy. You probably know some of these individuals, and they're a turn-off. On the contrary, my point is that readers appreciate authors who believe in their ability to provide answers, inspiration, or entertainment.

So, how can an author improve their confidence along with their book sales? Some self-esteem situations may truly require counseling. However, in most cases, one can be enlightened by dealing with the following questions:
  • Do you really believe in your book's value? Has your message actually worked in your own life? If so, recite clear examples of results.
  • What makes you comfortable recommending a favorite restaurant or product to a friend? Can you mimic that same feeling to mention your book to someone else?
  • What's the worst that could happen if you tell more people about your book?
If you're a good writer, don't let self-confidence issues prevent your message from helping the people who need it. Just because someone might say "no" doesn't mean you're worthless or a bad person. Be proud of the way you're trying to help society. Toot your horn a little. What's the worst that could happen? You just might sell a lot more books.


Lysa TerKeurst said...

Great post Rob.

I'm not a big fan of tooting a horn about myself... but I have no problem tooting a horn about the messages God has entrusted to me.

I see it as being a faithful steward. If I know a message I have will help someone else, why would I not want to get the word out.

I wonder if the issue for some might also be they doubt the value of their message???

Rob Eagar said...

Good point, Lysa. It's crucial that an author experience the true value of their message in their own life first - before recommending their book to someone else.

The first sale is always to yourself. And, it's hard to promote your book if you haven't truly the experienced the message yourself.

We must ask ourselves, "What positive result has my own message brought into my life?"

James Howard said...

What a great article! I realize now that I need more confidence. (It seems to come and go for me.) And you're right, Lysa, I need to have confidence in the message God has entrusted to me. I'm so glad I found this website today! - James Howard, author of "What So Proudly We Hailed"