Apparently since 1642 book selling has been completely mishandled from the get-go, and has relied on the skills or good fortune of the author far more often than the reputation or influence of the publisher or book stores to date. And that’s a huge problem for authors that are honestly looking to make an impact with a book that they took, in some cases years, of painstaking labor to build just for that purpose.
For almost as long as organizations and industry watchers have been keeping track, it’s been a statistical pulse point that business and professional development books predominantly sell between 50-250 copies over their entire lifespan, and almost all of those can be seen to ransact over the first 3-6 months after the book’s publication. It’s also true that most of those copies are sold to family, friends, and business colleagues whose arms are twisted into taking copies they otherwise wouldn’t have even looked at in passing in the book section of their local Walmart or Target.
The question remains then, why write a book that it’s almost statistically guaranteed that no one, but no one, is ever going to read?
And there’s another question that is even more insidious… why would you be a publisher of books that you know no one is going to read?
Well, it turns out that the answer to the second one will lead us to answer the first question in turn.
Publishers are like any other business – they know their numbers inside out and backwards. They know their profit margin per printed page that goes out of their warehouses, and they know how many books they can count on selling per book that they print. By definition then, for them to make their target revenue goals each year, they can do some fairly simple math and figure out how many books from how many authors they need to publish in order to be successful.
As there is a nearly endless supply of authors who want to be published, there is an easy, and abundant supply enough to fill any publishing house with easy content, and ready-made buyers for whom they can count on in just about any niche or niches they want to address each season, so publishers merely need to put out as many books as they need to and eventually the number of books sold will match up to what their goals are and they can happily check the box on being successful that year.
For authors the reasons for publishing also become more clear once you have established the market in which they more or less have to play.
The labor, expertise, time, and energy put into writing, re-writing, collecting research and graphics, sourcing, and formatting, outlining, and designing your book usually takes immense effort, especially to the uninitiated. For an author, any publisher interested in taking a flier on their book is the answer to their pleas for remedial help to get a finished product out. The product then provides a secondary market just by fiat of its very existence, otherwise known as the market of expert consulting, coaching, and training, or in short, the market of Expert Authority. Established by the existence of a perfect bound document with an attractive cover, an ISBN number, and their name on it; a book that establishes their bonifieds as an expert authority figure in a specific subject opens doors to sell high ticket services and other revenue models, and as a result that’s where most authors make their money from publishing a book, full stop.
So now we know why the industry runs the way it does – and why authors are vulnerable to systemic issues that turn sometimes years of effort into collections of boxes of paper weights in one’s garage.
But if you seriously put the kind of effort into writing the book in the first place in order to have an impact, then there has to be an audience reading and receiving the book you wrote for that to happen, and frankly the Friends & Family Plan doesn’t tend to do a lot for you when you’re counting the number of books you have in print and in circulation.
For real experts seeking to make an impact, to some degree or other numbers really DO matter.
The industry as a whole has established that less than 2% of people who buy a business or personal/professional development book ever actually read the book to the end. Of those who DO read it all the way through, less than 2% of those will ever apply what they read in any meaningful way, so for you to have an impact, you really need to make sure your numbers either dramatically change in terms of readership conversions or implementation conversions, OR you grow the gross number of books in print to the point that 2% of 2% produces meaningful numbers at the other end. And that requires marketing of your book like the product it is, not like the work of heart it took to produce it to meet a publisher’s needs, and your ego as a writer.
No matter how much ‘New Coke’ was lauded, no matter how big the marketing budget was, New Coke as a product could not be successful until what effectively became ‘old Coke’ was converted to ‘Coke Classic’. On its own, there was nothing specifically wrong with the product ‘New Coke’, but how it was marketed made all the difference in the world to its sales, and to the sales of other related Coke products at the time. Likewise your book, the one you want to make an impact with, if it’s marketed like every other book, it’s probably going to get the same, uninspired, and low-yield results. Only if it’s marketed in a way that attracts your Avatar Prospects to pick it up and read it, are you likely to have any significant impact with the book itself, and that takes a marketing expert to market it like the brand new product it is.
With well over 1200 different strategies to market and sell large volumes of books that we’ve developed specifically for this purpose, we have what you need to get your books into the hands of people who can take what you wrote and turn it into the very transformations you hoped and believed in when you wrote it for them.