Selling your Services: The Book Give-Away Way

Want to know if publishing your book will land you business? Consider how well-done and targeted books can have an impact on your prospects.

It may seem counterintuitive to talk about giving away books, because most people assume that book sales are how authors make money. Sure, if you write the next Harry Potter, you’re not going to be giving them away. But writing a nonfiction book to share your ideas and expertise is a whole different ball game.

I watched a Jeff Bezos interview the other day from around 1997. Amazon was a fledgling company at the time, and the quote that stood out to me the most was “attention is the scarce commodity of the late 20th Century.” Bezos is right about that. In fact, a colleague of mine in the coaching world, Peter Jansen, from Portugal, had made a similar comment to me only a few days before I saw the Bezos interview. Jansen, too, said that time wasn’t the most valuable commodity. He pointed out that we watch Netflix, and we don’t get paid for that. Same with networking meetings: neither of us was getting paid for meeting together, but our time was still spent on something we value.

Getting Attention

So, with this discussion of time and value, what does attention have to do with anything? Amazon isn’t there to help you get attention to your book unless you find your own way to blow up their algorithms. In other words, don’t expect to put your book on Amazon and see a lot of sales, unless you have ways to get people interested in your book outside of Amazon. Reviews help, and there are certainly things you can do on Amazon (and Goodreads—Amazon’s iffy social media platform) but that’s not the focus of this blog. Getting attention on Amazon is great, but it’s also becoming more difficult all the time. “Best-Seller”Let’s look at one tactic authors have used to get noticed: leveraging book categories to stand out among a smaller pool of work. A lot of self-publishing focuses on getting you “Amazon Best-seller status.” The problem is, Amazon Best-seller status is so 2020. Sure, it can boost your confidence, but the reality is that you may be a best-seller on Amazon for an hour and claim that status for yourself, but this does not necessarily mean that you’re going to keep that position for long—it can often be done in an obscure category with just a dozen sales in a day. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you made even $100. All it means is that you successfully gamed the system, with a measure of success.

What has changed in the past couple of years? Amazon has cracked down on abuse of obscure categories that aren’t even related to the content of your book. Even so, some authors are finding workarounds, and it’s still possible to run a campaign to get people on your email list to help you boost your sales on Day 1 of your book launch, so you can get this status. But, for the most part, that game has folded.

Rethinking What Books Do

Your book—in paperback form—is long-form copywriting. It’s popular these days to send an ebook copy to new prospects. But I want you to consider for a moment. What happens when someone sends you an ebook? How often do you even bother to open it? You know that they’ve just sent you something that cost them nothing. A click and a digital zap, and there it is.

On the other hand, imagine you have a meeting with a person who you know is an A+ prospect. Working with them would bring you tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your professional relationship.

Now imagine that you walk away from that meeting with their street address. You autograph and put a paperback copy of your own book in the mail, or use a fulfillment service to send it. Imagine how it feels a week later when that book arrives. You’ve created a second touch. You’ve delivered something that shares deeply and authentically with them. They get to feel the paper, enjoy that glossy (or matte) cover, and set it carefully down on their desk or by their bed. This isn’t something to throw away lightly. Everyone knows there’s a hard cost to printing and shipping your book. You haven’t just “sent over some information.” No. You’ve given them a real gift. The gift of your thoughts in writing, on paper. They are much more likely to respond to this gift by giving your thoughts and ideas further ATTENTION when a paperback arrives in the mail.

Bonus: Audio Books

AttentionNot everyone reads paperbacks, to be sure. Make sure prospects know your audiobook is available. But now that they own your paperback and have decided to GIVE YOU SOME MORE ATTENTION, audiobook lovers may go purchase, rent, or borrow your audiobook from Audible, a library, or any other avenue.

How can we assume your audiobook is available? It’s because at Victory Vision, we include audiobook production in ALL done-for-you (DFY) business book publishing packages as of January 2024, because we believe that a huge percentage of your best prospects will prefer an audiobook. The audiobook industry is set to explode in the next few years, projected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 25.3% in the next 7 years.* And as a busy business owner, you understand why: multi-tasking is king when it comes to managing all the input coming at us.

Quality Control

What do you need to do to make sure that book is a true gift, and leverage the attention you’ve cultivated? The book must be done with excellence. Good writing; great storytelling; not too long or full of fluff; well-edited and proofread; and a sharp cover and interior design are essential.

An accountant who reached out to me through LinkedIn once sent me an ebook. I opened it up only to find five typos in the first paragraph. That was the end of me giving him my attention. Too bad. He went to all that work to get my attention in the first place, and lost it by sending me something sloppy. I sure wouldn’t want a sloppy accountant—would you?

Don’t Ditch the Ebook

Not all prospects are created equal, and therefore not all prospects should be sent a free paperback. It’s an overhead expense, which is always something a savvy business owner keeps an eye on. Therefore, if you have a meeting with a prospect and categorize them B+ or B, you may want to send them a free copy of your ebook, instead of a paperback.

Follow Up

You may need a few more touches before the client signs with you. A week after sending any version of your book, make sure they got it, and ask if they’d like to set up a meeting to discuss the ideas that book contains. Let them know you’d love their feedback. Another follow-up idea is to request a review of the book when they’ve finished reading it. This will help your book’s attention grow on Amazon, which is always welcome.

Target Market

How to decide if a prospect is A+ or A, and should get a paperback?

Because it takes hard work and a calculated expense to write a book, get it edited, designed, and published, the book should be designed to speak effectively to a target audience. People in that target audience will do business with you, and the most ideal prospect will spend $10,000 or more over the lifetime of your working relationship. People who express a need for what you do, especially if they sound like they’re in the buying cycle or soon will be, are worth it! Send them a copy! They won’t forget the extra attention you gave them, and your return on investment should pay off within a year of publication, if you make good connections, send the book out, and do great follow up. I’d like to say, “it’s that easy,” but I know it’s never easy. However, having a done-for-you option will make achieving your goal of getting your book out all that much easier.

Adam G. Fleming, PCC, is a coach with 16 books and more than 2000 coaching hours under his belt. His focus is in coaching writers along their journey. He is the CEO and lead Ghostwriter of Victory Vision Publishing, Inc.

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