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Do You Know What It Takes To Sell 1,000,000 Copies Of Your Book?

Aug 17, 2007
Almost everyone who contacts my office about helping them with their book publishing needs, believe they have the next million-copy seller. Because do not make a habit of stepping on anyone's dreams, I always listen politely before asking the question: "How do you propose to sell 1,000,000 copies?"

Usually, I get the same answer: "Everybody in the world will want this book ... " Most people cannot fathom, what it takes to sell 100,000 copies, 10,000 copies or 1,000 copies for that matter, let alone 1,000,000 copies.

According to the Author's Guild, a successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies and a successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies. Major publishing companies will take a book on if they believe it can sell at least 50,000 copies.

However, the statistics for self-publishers prove dismal. The largest author services companies report:
An average of 100 copies sold per title.
14.3% of authors sell more than 200 copies.
3.4% of authors sell more than 500 copies.

Why then, do we see so many people writing books and seeking to be on the New York Times' bestseller list? Simply put, because you never know where your book will wind up.

According to the New York Times' (Edward Watts, March 15, 2006) "Joel Osteen, a television evangelist, has signed a book deal with Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, that publishing insiders say is potentially one of the richest for a nonfiction book and could bring the author more than $10 million."
While his book Your Best Life Now is good, the marketing machine behind it really caused him to sell three to four million copies.

As senior pastor of the "nation's largest church" with a media ministry that reaches 200 million households, Osteen could write the Gospel of Humpty Dumpty and sell thousands of copies easily.
The point being, he used his circle of influence, brilliantly, I might add.

You must do the same. I know you probably don't possess the same scope, but the principles remain the same.

1. Who do you know?
2. Who knows you?
3. How can you reach them?

You should start "selling" your book while in the process writing it.

I don't believe in "stealth" writing, where you hide away from the world and never let anyone know about your project until it is completed. Of course, you want to be selective, but if it takes you two years to write your manuscript, plus another six months, nine months or more for production, that is time that would be well spent in marketing your book.

Start by making a complete contact list of your relatives, friends, associates, business relationships, memberships, etc. Call, write or email them and let them know about your book and the expected completion date. Ask them to help you spread the word.

They may also know of networking or speaking opportunities whereby you can pitch your book - before it is published. The idea is to leverage your contacts as much as you can.

Prompt them for a commitment to buy multiple books at a discount or with a special incentive once the book is published. That way there is a possibility that you will already have hundreds or thousands or customers waiting for your release.

Once it is out, follow the rule of five as outlined by John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways To Market Your Book. Kremer states, "All you have to do is follow this one rule: Do five promotions a day. That's it. Do five promotions each and every day (with a day off every once in a while for good behavior). Make a phone call. Write a letter to an important editor. Send out a catalog to a key sales contact. Handwrite a little note on the news release you send to targeted media. Make a follow-up phone call. Do at least five promotions a day, and within a year you'll have made over 1,500 prime contacts. I guarantee you that if you make five legitimate contacts each and every day for a year, you'll make sales. But you have to be consistent. That's the inside secret. Now that you know it, do something about it."
About the Author
Marvin D. Cloud provides a self-publishing alternative at mybestseller.com. For a free writers' workbook and online marketing tips, go to http://mybestseller.com/html/marketing_tips.
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