Having just scored another number one bestseller with his latest Western, Paul L. Thompson is sitting pretty with an excitingly high sales year already in motion. But what causes an author to continuously keep hitting the top spot with each new release?
Let’s recap a little. In December, Paul L. Thompson released “You Shot Me Once! Never Again!” and it soared to the top. That Western was a move away from his “Shorty Thompson” character and, looking at the numbers, it seems the readers approved. Then he released “We’re Gonna Die, Ain’t We, Danny,” which went all the way to number one and now—the hat trick—his latest Western “One Sweet Kiss” has taken the top spot. That’s his third number one bestseller of the year already under his belt.
But how exactly does this happen? What causes such a string of hits?
In the beginning stages, it comes down to you, me and them. That’s the answer. You, as the writer, create a Western adventure that readers will want to read. Me—I put the book in the position of being seen; and then there’s them—yes, those good folks who see, purchase and read the books. Those are the people we are most interested in hearing from. They call all the shots.
That’s the relationship we must get our heads around to understand the selling of books. You write them, I sell them, and readers read what they want to read.
Once the book starts to get noticed and starts being read, it comes down to you once again—it is your job, as the writer, to write another book that the readers will enjoy. Then it’s my turn. My job is to make sure the readers see it and bounce from the first book to the second.
Now this is the stage where most writers stumble and fail. They can’t maintain the pace that is needed to be a topflight Western author. They can’t get that next story finished. The momentum is lost and the success dwindles.
But for those who can write with speed and accuracy, the successes just keep on rolling as long as the author has new product to feed the reader. The reader is voracious, and when he takes a liking to a certain author, he immediately rushes out and tries to get more books by that author. On and on and on it goes.
The relationship between me, you and them is the way to capitalize on the momentum. But how do we get the momentum going in the first place? That’s where S-O-L-E-S comes into play. Now write this down…
S: SOLES. Yes, the soles of your shoes have to be a solid basis for your footwear. Without the sole, the boot would be useless. This means that we have to take a look at the catalogue of books being sold. The categories, the keywords, the covers, the reviews—will this book move? Is this a book a potential reader will want to read? Do you have the correct SOLE for your catalogue, or will that first nail stick straight into your foot and cripple you? With Cherokee Parks, we decided to re-release his whole catalogue fresh and start from there. It worked. Can this work for you?
O: ORGANIZATION. The way your books are organized can either make or break your sales attempts. For example, are all of your books attached to your author page? Does your series have a series page? Do you have editorial reviews? Is the first book in your series listed as the first? Are you organized to make sales happen?
L: LEARN: Yes, I know, everyone knows everything, right? Well, we don’t. What do you know about the readership? Which books are most popular, which authors are the topsellers, who has new releases coming out, how are other books being sold, are audiobooks the big thing? What is happening within the genre? This is the learning stage. You’ve done everything you can think to sell your books and now you have to look at what others are doing—reading this blog could be considered learning! How can you add to what you already have to create sales success for your books? In the case of Cherokee, it was to go ahead and put together a Mountain Man project—a project we knew readers would go ape for. We were proven correct. That Mountain Man hit went to number one—it’s called “The Trader.”
E: ENERGIZE: Get those books ready for sale, start your ads, get inside the top one hundred of your given categories. Get onto the project and start reeling in those sales. This is the time for advertising, for capitalizing, SEO optimization, for keyword initiatives and cross-promotion. It’s time for getting into the game and bringing those sales into your fold.
S: SALES: The final step is to start counting the sales and find out what worked and what didn’t work. Which book performed best? What worked best for your books? What could you have done to have increased sales? This is the reflection before the whole thing starts again—and it will start again—because you have to go for gold with SOLES to keep those sales coming in!
So now you should have an understanding of how to get your books noticed, and how to keep readers coming back. Of course, there is more to it. Heck, if you feel the need to ask questions, just drop me a note below. I’m always happy to hear from authors.