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Three things any writer can do to sell more books online

In my other life, I’m a marketer, but on this blog I speak first as a reader and book buyer, even if I’m talking about business!  Today’s post is going to be short and sweet — here are three easy things that any writer can do to sell more books on your site.  Even if you don’t have any thing to sell, you can still do these things to get more readers and feedback.

1) Accurately and honestly describe your book, but do not use pitchy, cliff-hanger-filled blurb speak. The first reaction for me and most other customers is “Yeah, right,” when we encounter anything that sounds salesy.  Yes, we are hoping that your book is the best thing we’ve ever read, but when everything makes that promise… and when we’ve been disappointed over and over… we learn not to fully trust those little paragraph writeups.

On your own site, you don’t need to rely on those pitchy back-cover blurbs.  You have freedom; you can write your own accurate description of the book — what it does and does not do, who the intended audience is.

2) Provide sample chapters. What do you have to lose by providing the first few chapters of your book?  If there’s some lame legal reason, you can always post something else by you. Novellas are hard to publish and don’t make that much money for the writer, but as a promotional tool, they can make great samples.

Readers buy books in part because they respond on a gut level to the author’s voice and storytelling authority, as Les Edgerton says in “Finding Your Voice.”  If you don’t give readers the chance to form that response, you’re losing out on readers.

3) Start, and promote, a mailing list. Mailing lists aren’t evil, even though many people are afraid of them.  Tricking people into joining isn’t cool, but you’d never do that, right?  Look, people want to hear more from you, so give them the opportunity.

Not everyone who visits your website will join your list, but the people who do want you to contact them. They are your friends and fans!  They will leave comments and send you feedback if you ask them to!

Mailing list programs are not that hard to set up — most of the programs are intended for beginners, such as Constant Contact or iContact, and you don’t have to know much about web junk to use ’em.

Seriously, do these three things; they won’t take you long.  Every writer I know — amateur, professional, published, or unpublished — is ravenous for more readers and feedback, and these are the easiest and simplest ways I know to get them.

– Kat