Supply vs. Demand: The Economics of Book Sales

How are you selling your book? Are you trying to get it in bookstores, making it available online, getting it in every library in the country, setting an online store?

Or are you getting yourself in the news, creating a buzz, letting the general public know that your book exists and overcoming the Who-Cares Factor?

Some authors make the mistake of spending nearly all their time trying to get their book stocked on bookstore shelves. It’s nice to see your book on the shelf, no doubt, but then what? With thousands of books on the shelves, who will even notice that it is there? Who will care? The problem with this approach is that people, even people casually browsing a bookstore, already know what they want. They might not know exactly what they want, but they have a good idea. Your book ends up going virtually unnoticed.

Instead of relying on a store to push your work to the reader, send the reader into the store.

Even if the bookstore doesn’t carry your book, they can order it. Some people, if they really want to read your book, will ask for it, make the bookstore order it, even pay for it in advnace. People read either because they want to be entertained or educated. If you can convince them that your book will do exactly this, you are one step closer to sending mass amounts of people into the store to demand their copy of your book.

Case in point: Sarah Palin. Her book sold millions of copies and not because millions of copies were available. Say what you want about Mrs. Palin, she (and her publicist) was able to create a stunning level of demand for her book. As soon as it went on sale, the people gobbled it up faster than a turkey headed for slaughter during a half-term governor’s television interview.

Does this mean you need to become the governor of a large state, spend $150,000 of political contributions on clothes, get involved in a primetime media war with your daughter’s ex-boyfriend and quit your job to go on a major speaking tour? That would certainly help but most of us simply don’t have the time for all that stuff. Instead, here is what we can learn from Sarah:

Get in the news

Send a press release tailored to your target market. People will be paid to read it. Get a radio spot, or a few radio spots. Reach as many potential readers as you can. Or take a note from Sarah and do something unusual that media outlets can’t resist!

Hit the blogs & social networks

Blogs are more important than websites. They have lots of readers. Millions. Establish a presence there by getting to know the owner, sending a relevant press release directly to them, volunteer to write guest articles, register as a user and post, post, post! Link everything to your (branded and professional-looking) website. And make sense. Don’t post just to post, but have something educational or entertaining to say.  Stuff like this actually works but only if you really understand your audience…

Make yourself credible

Okay, the former governor is still struggling with this. But she’s at least trying to look like she knows what she’s talking about. You have to do this too. Borrow from the success of others and use words that paint pictures. Instead of saying that your book is about “The life of a former politico” say that your book is “A modern day 1984 written in the style of John Grisham.” This will help to establish your brand and your credibility as an author.

Check out Dr. Wayne Dyer’s website. I have no idea who this guy is but his website makes him look like a friggin’ expert. I would go to this guy for financial advise, to get a tooth pulled, to learn about Egyptian mummies, and to fix my car, plumbing and television set. He looks like a damn genius.

Try Everything

Interest is going to come where you least expect it. Just when you thought they wouldn’t give a damn, try them again.

And don’t give up!!!

If you can create an interest in yourself as an authority or an entertaining personality, people will be interested in your work and will venture into the online and brick & mortar bookstores to check out your book. At that point, they already know what they want. It’s your job to create demand and convince them that what they want is your book!!

And so I can put my money where my mouth is, I’m going to direct you to The Cigar Maker official website.


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