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Book Sales Are Overrated: 5 Tips to Increase Your Book Revenue

Aspiring authors often fixate on book sales revenue. They obsess over how many books they can possibly sell, how much they’ll earn back per book sold, and exhausting efforts to build a platform so more people will buy. But what if we told you that was the least productive way to earn money from your book?

If you’re an entrepreneur with a book, chances are you will see the least ROI by focusing on book sales.

You see, profitable publishing requires a mindset shift. Your book represents not an independent commercial property, but a magnet attracting ideal clients to your business. The issue with beating book sales out of your book is that, unless you are a truly spectacular writer—someone who has years of experience practicing the craft, has earned money from your writing, has been paid to write before, and has written a truly unique bestseller—chances are you will see, at best, a few grand from your book in its entire lifetime.

Why? Because book sales are limited for anyone other than Michelle Obama, Britney Spears, and Prince Harry. If you have a brand or platform that naturally promotes itself, your book will only go as far as you do.

So then, what’s the alternative? Is there a better way to earn money off your book than book sales?

When Dr. Angela Lauria spoke on stage at the Sony Center in Toronto a few years back to promote her book Make ‘Em Beg to Publish Your Book, the audience was full of mission-driven entrepreneurs. She knew from pre-event research that most of these entrepreneurs wanted to write a book.

Now, most book marketers or publishing experts would probably have advised Angela to go into the speech with one goal: push as many books as possible. In a room full of hot prospects who want to write a book, you should have everyone raising their hands to buy a copy.

At the end of the event, you’ll sit at your author table with a stack of books and wait as maybe 15 percent of the audience will wait in line to buy a copy. They’ll go home, maybe they’ll read the book, maybe they won’t. Probably won’t. Or maybe, if you’re lucky, they’ll get some value out of it, sing your praises for a few months in conversation with others, and then forget about it.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it doesn’t always lead to a good ROI on your book, and it certainly doesn’t leave people begging to work with you.

Before the event even began, Dr. Angela had given away her ebook for free to those attending the event. Right before she walked on stage, 450 of the attendees had already downloaded the book. Of the 450 who downloaded it, 42 of them signed up to learn more about hiring her to write their books, and 11 of them hired Angela on the spot to coach them through book writing. Those clients ended up generating $343,750 in revenue over the next year.

If you use your book as a lead gen tool instead of focusing on the short-lived route of book sales, you can increase your book’s earning potential. Here are 5 tips for increasing your book’s revenue without focusing on book sales.

1. Know Your Numbers

Financial success requires you to be crystal clear on your numbers. Before you aim to hit a goal, you need to know what the benchmark is.

  • Revenue Target: Tally your personal living costs and business expenses. How much do you need each year or each month to keep this movement going?
  • Lead Volume: Given revenue targets, how many clients can sustain that level? You need to know how many clients you can take on comfortably per month in order to sustain your business.
  • Conversion Metrics: Let’s say you can take on ten clients per month. You’ll need to give away around 100 books. Of those 100 people, roughly 20 to 40 will inquire to work with you. Depending on your sales skills, you can probably expect to close a quarter (or half if you’re a skilled salesperson) of those.

Keep in mind that giving away books shouldn’t be random. You should only be giving this high-quality lead magnet to highly qualified prospects. Like Dr. Angela to her room full of entrepreneurs who wanted to write books, ensure your awareness tool is aligned with the number of books you plan to give away.

2. Focus on Your Reader’s Needs

When presenting your book, resist detailing solutions. Instead, zero in on crystallizing the problem and how your reader longs to feel once resolved. What problem does your book help solve? And what dream come true does it provide?

If you help the prospect to see where she is, and then help her to see where she wants to be, your prospect will have a clear vision of what you can help her achieve.

If you dive into problem solving before she’s ready, you risk leaving her with bouts of indecision and confusion. Let your book (or your services) fill in the gaps later.

3. Lead with a Servant’s Heart

So far we’ve talked a lot about ROIs and lead magnets and revenue streams, etcetera etcetera. But chances are if you want to write a book, then you’re in this for more than money. Chances are your goal is to help people who actually need your services. That’s why focusing on just the money (like folks who focus on book sales) will only get you so far. If you focus on your reader and lead with a servant’s heart, you have a better chance at building valuable and meaningful relationships with your prospects and clients.

That’s why we one of our favorite rules around here is “give a book away PLUS.”

Consider this. Let’s say you’ve had a long day of serving your clients. Your back hurts and you would give anything to get a good massage. There are to massage studios in town, The Serenity Spot and Let’s Relax. There’s no real difference between the two other than The Serenity Spot said they will give you a hundred dollar bill if you consider getting your massage with them. No strings attached, no funny business. Just a free $100.

You’d get a massage with The Serenity Spot, right? We would too. Why? Because who doesn’t like free money?

While books already provide inherent value, sweetening the pot further by giving away something else of immense value builds goodwill and engagement early on.

Consider complementary extras like a companion mini-course, exclusive case studies, live Q&A calls, discounted coaching sessions or other alluring kickers.

This overdelivery makes your offerings irresistible compared to standalone ebooks which some download without ever reading. When you unexpectedly enhance a $20 asset to $120 worth through savvy bonuses, you position yourself as an advocate invested in their success.

And that servant mindset fosters ideal client relationships rather than one-off transactions. So amplify your book’s perception through carefully selected ancillary content and touchpoints reflecting your premium brand.

The goal remains elevating their progress, not demonstrating your knowledge. So choose supplements addressing desired transformations rather than showcasing expertise. Serve first, sell second.

4. Give Your Paperback Away for Free

Another way to lead with a servant’s heart and add value upfront is giving away your paperback for free plus the cost of shipping.

This filters for hot, high-potential leads since that micro-investment signals commitment. Funnel pioneer Russell Brunson gave away 80,000 books this way, knowing recipients represented conscientious prospects. He then presented tiered coaching offers to those demonstrating readiness through shipping fees paid.

Now paperback distribution poses admittedly greater logistics like online payment collection, order fulfillment and postage. So ensure smooth systems before attempting large free paperback campaigns.

But even smaller campaigns give your biggest champions something tangible carrying perceivable value to get excited about. And that social proof spreads exponentially more qualitative buzz than faceless ebook downloads.

5. Avoid Perfectionism: Start Now!

It can be tempting to wait until your book is absolutely perfect to start generating money from it, but if you’re ready to actually serve your clients, you need to start now. Use the book writing process as messaging to start getting your powerful message into readers’ hands.

Consider messaging like: “I’m currently authoring an essential guide on [your expertise area] set to publish later this year. If you would like to sign up for an early copy of the new book, I will send it to you as soon as it’s done as a way of saying thank you.”

Once your potential clients raise their hands, that’s your signal that you can invite them to work with you with messaging such as, “Thanks for requesting my unreleased book! I don’t want you to have to wait to benefit from it so I’d love to jump on a quick call.”

The point of these book lead funnels lies in starting relationship journeys, not literary masterpieces. So avoid over-editing and proofing to little incremental gain. Capitalize on excitement your book concept initially catalyzes through calls-to-action prioritizing outreach urgency over gradual incrementalism. Now’s the time, unfinished or not!

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