Trying to sell books online in 2020? Whether you’re trying to promote your first book or one of many, this guide will teach you how to publish, market, and sell more books in less time.
You’ve written a book… and now you’re wondering how to actually sell it online.
Ideally, you want to sell a lot of copies — as many as possible. The more you sell, the more your message spreads and the more money you make.
Now that you have a final draft in your hands — or something close to that — you can figure out how you’re going to market and sell your book online.
And this guide is going to teach you everything you need to know.
Let’s start by setting some realistic expectations.
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Book Sales Stats — Setting Realistic Expectations
Between 600,000 and 1 million books get published every year in the U.S. More than half of those are self-published.
And the truth is, the vast majority of those new books never even get close to selling 1,000 copies or more.
Some of them sell just a few times, very few sell thousands or millions of copies.
In fact, one blogger estimates that only .0025% of self-published books will sell 1,000 copies or more.
But don’t let that discourage you.
Depending on what you’re trying to do with the book, selling hundreds or thousands of copies might not even be the end-goal.
Don’t get me wrong — making money directly off of your book sales would be nice… but that’s something that takes a lot of time and commitment.
And the vast majority of full-time authors have been writing books for decades — some successful and some not so successful.
To be honest… you can make a lot more money this way.
And in the following 5 steps, that’s exactly what we’re going to show you how to do.
Step 1. Know Your Audience!
Before you try to sell your book online, you first need to know who you’re going to sell it to.
Your marketing will be only effective if it’s targeted toward a specific group of people with a specific problem that your book was written to solve.
Start by answering this question…
What group of people will benefit the most from reading your book?
These are also going to be the people who are going to be the most interested in buying your book.
It might even be worth your time to brainstorm and fill out something like this…
The clearer you are about who you’re selling to, the more copies you’re going to sell… plain and simple.
Because if you know what your target market is struggling with and why they want to buy your book, then you can easily craft a sales funnel that speaks to their specific situation.
And specific sales funnels almost always perform better than their generalist counterparts.
So spend a little time thinking about the words you’ve written and who they’re most going to benefit.
Once you have a good idea for the people you’re selling to, move onto step 2.
Step 2. Craft a Compelling Title & Cover
You might already have a title and cover for your book… but don’t be afraid of making compelling alterations.
In fact, most publishing houses create the cover and title after the book has already been written… because that’s when you can really determine the feel and function of the manuscript.
But how do you make your title and cover irresistible?
Well, there are probably a million different ways to appeal to your target market… so we’re going to keep things really simple.
Your title and cover only needs to accomplish two goals…
- It needs to be clear about what knowledge you’re going to share with your target market.
- It needs to be clear about WHY that knowledge is beneficial.
That’s it… those are your only two goals.
Let me give you an example…
This book by our very own CEO, Russell Brunson, accomplishes those two goals perfectly.
The title itself — “Expert Secrets” — might not be super clear, but the subtitle — “The Underground Playbook for Creating a Mass Movement of People Who Will Pay for Your Advice…” — does the heavy lifting.
It’s clear about what entrepreneurs are going to learn and why that’s going to benefit them.
Here’s another example…
This title and cover also is clear about who it’s for and why it’s helpful. Because of that, it’s selling like hotcakes for Natalie Hodson.
You might be thinking that there’s got to be more to creating a compelling title and cover than those two elements.
And sure… there is.
But ensuring that you nail those two things will take you 80% of the way toward creating a compelling front cover.
And we are big fans of the 80/20 rule… 20% of the effort for 80% of the results…
It used to be that people would sell books by pitching traditional publishers and crossing their fingers… usually to be told “No” over and over again.
Nowadays, people self-publish books, try to sell them on Amazon, and… still crickets.
So what’s a new author like yourself to do?
Whether you want to use your book as a free gift and then upsell purchasers to a high-ticket product or service (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) or you want to sell your books outright, you’ll need to master the art of the sales funnel.
Here’s the best way to do it: You use the book as a free gift to attract your target market to your sales funnel. After they opt-in to receive the book (you can ask them to pay shipping to help cover your costs), you upsell them to your core offer — this could be a course you created, a workbook, an audio guide, or pretty much anything else.
We call this the Tripwire Funnel… and it’s crazy effective.
Here’s what this looks like in action.
On our DotCom Secrets sales page, this is the first thing visitors see.
So at this point, we’re just trying to sell the free book. If people click the red button, we then ask for their shipping information.
Next is the payment informant page with a few non-invasive upsell offers…
Now after they enter their payment info and click the big red button, we’ve already made the “sale” on the free book. The customer will assume that this is the end of it.
That’s when we show them this page…
This is our core offer… the real product that we’re trying to sell. It costs $97 and you’d be surprised at how many people take us up on it.
Not everyone does, of course.
Some people will say “No thanks” and just order their free book.
That’s fine — our costs are covered since we had them pay for shipping.
But the 10% or so of people who do take us up on our high-ticket offer make this sales funnel extremely profitable.
You can do something similar — in fact, click HERE to get your free Tripwire Sales Funnel right now.
This is the best way to sell your book online and make a lot of money doing it.
You just need to figure out what your core offer is going to be. Consider the following options…
- A workbook to accompany the primary book.
- A digital course that’s relevant to the topic of the book.
- Coaching, consulting, or freelance services (so long as what you do is relevant to what the book is about).
You can learn more about crafting your high-converting sales funnel over here.
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Step 4. Effortlessly Publish Your Book Online
The best part about publishing a book in today’s world is that it’s super easy.
After you’ve gone through final revisions and created a book cover, we recommend starting by self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing.
This is so easy that anyone can do it.
Plus, your book will automatically be listed on Amazon once you’ve finished and Amazon will print and ship your book whenever there’s an order. They’ll also pay you up to 70% royalties on your sales (which is wayyy better than traditional publishers).
The most difficult part of publishing through KDP is formatting your book to fit their standards.
But they have helpful guides that will walk you through the nitty gritty over here.
For print-on-demand publishing off of Amazon, consider a service like IngramSpark or Lulu.
Step 5. Drive Traffic To Your Sales Funnel
Now that your book is published and your sales funnel is set up, you just have to find your target market and drive them to your landing page.
That’s the beauty of a sales funnel…
Once it’s set up, you just have to get people over there and it’ll do the selling for you.
But how are you going to find your target market and drive them to your sales funnel?
There are a lot of different strategies, of course.
To keep things simple, though, we’re just going to share X of the most effective strategies here.
- Pitch Guest Posts & Get On Podcasts — Doing this can be a little time consuming, but if you’re consistent, it can be quite effective at building your own niche authority and driving traffic to your sales funnel. Send emails to blogs and podcasts in your niche offering to provide free articles or to be a guest on their show. Mention your new book and you might be surprised at how many people take you up on your offer.
- Run Advertisements — If you’re just selling your book outright, then you probably don’t want to run ads… because it’s hard to get a healthy ROI on such a low-cost product. However, if you’re using the Tripwire Funnel that we recommend to upsell to a high-ticket product, that running ads on Facebook, Google, or other platforms is a great way to drive traffic.
- Send Your Book To Influencers For Free — Most new authors don’t do this, but it’s a great way to collect book reviews and drive traffic. Just send a free copy of your book to as many influencers in your niche as you can afford. Inside of the book, include a hand-written note that tells them why you’ve sent the book and asks for an honest review. And if they love it, they might just share it with their audience!
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Ready To Sell Your Books Online?
You now have all the knowledge necessary to sell books online.
To be sure, there will be plenty of ups and downs, lessons to learn, and marketing iterations to make.
But if you stick with it, then you might sell more copies than you ever thought possible.
Or you might just sell a few copies that help your business to grow and thrive.
Either way, action and persistence is the only way to win.
So get started… and don’t stop.