It’s one thing to write a book, it’s another thing altogether, to sell it. All too many authors get so far into the story with blinders on. Only identifying with the characters in the book and hoping readers will identify in the same way.

Without a publisher there is no one to give you objective feedback. Friends and family are great, but let’s be honest, they’re not giving you the feedback you need to make your book successful. As a self-published author, you’re the ONLY one with any skin in the game. In my opinion, the only way to successfully bring a book through the arduous self-publishing cycle is to set forth SELLING the book FIRST, and then continue on to the details of writing it. Of course the book has to be good – content is king – but without having defined your reader base, identified the value you’re putting forth, and KNOWING that people will NEED your book, you might as well hang it up now.

So how can you identify the value in your book?

Here are 5 ways to find the marketable value in your books:

1. Define Your Avatar.

An “avatar” is a term used by marketing specialists meaning the “personality” or “persona” buying your product. This should be a fairly exact summary of any particular book buyer who would walk into a store and pick up your book on a shelf, or add your book to their Amazon cart. If you don’t have a book written yet, this should be based on the genre you expect you will be writing, or if you have a topic or emotion you plan to portray in your book, base this character off of that. Regardless, you should write down all of the characteristics of that person – likes, dislikes, hobbies, socio-economic status, marital status, family information, needs, wants, etc. You can even go so far as to clip some photos from magazines of people who look like they might fit this description.

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2. Define Elements of Value.

A book is a product, and whether it is a fiction or nonfiction book it requires an element of value (or several) to be viable in the marketplace. The book marketplace is very saturated. It is hard to know where to start when buying a book, it has been for decades, and with self-publishing becoming so prevalent, the pool is getting larger by the day. In order to sell you have to be seen and in order to be seen, you have to offer something unique that no one else is offering. Something of value. Think of your avatar and attempt to come up with this element of value by answering the following questions: 1. What concepts, principles, emotions, virtues or morals would be most helpful to my avatar?
2. How can the needs of my avatar be met by a book? Can you take them away to another dimension? Do they need intellectual stimulation or guidance, or do they need emotional encouragement by implementing true-life empathy?
3. Can you help your avatar overcome a particular fear or deal with a particular situation with a book?
4. What other unique elements would really present a “wow” factor to your avatar?

3. Define Elements of Enjoyment.

Yes, the book must be enjoyable, and I’m certain this is the part you will be most focused on throughout the writing of the book. Either making it informative, suspenseful, uplifting, heart-warming, a “page-turner” and otherwise “un-put-down-able”. You can come up with some interesting ways to add fundamental elements of enjoyment to your book by asking similar questions to the ones above about your avatar: 1. What experience does my avatar always wish they were able to have but never will?
2. Why does my avatar read the other books they read? What keeps them turning the pages?
3. Does my avatar have an altered ego or role model that you can put them in the shoes of in order to evoke empowerment?

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4. Discovering the Benefits of the Benefits.

Now that we have defined the major overarching benefits of our book it’s time to get our fine-tooth comb out and get into some particulars. List a few of the fundamental elements of value and elements of enjoyment that you have chosen to incorporate into your book. 1. What is the moral of the story? What does it teach?
2. Who is the main character of the story?
3. What is the overall theme or genre of the book?

From here, underneath each of these items list the benefits that they offer to the reader. These will be things like, how your avatar will relate to it, why its lessons are important and relevant, what kind of feeling it will give to a reader.

Once you have come up with these sub-lists. Continue on and delve one step further and list benefits of each of these benefits. When you are done with this exercise, you will have a very clear vision of how your book will be valued in the eyes of your avatar and how it will be used.

The Benefits of the Benefits of your Book

The above illustration is the one I used when developing my children’s series. Beginning with fundamental features of my book, I was able to extract information such as “Encourages creative thinking”, “acceptance of diversity”, “dream big”, “used as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tool”.

5. Aligning Your Marketing

Conveniently these very low-level “benefits of the benefits” would be used as many of the keywords I target when marketing my books. These are very specific things people are looking for. They will align with your avatar because the features you started with came directly out of your “value” and “enjoyment” venn diagrams. Beginning with a book and attempting to sell it at face value will leave you with a myriad of valuable leaves yet to be uncovered. Especially in the digital and online book marketplace, keywords (and further, the RIGHT, most valuable keywords) are what will get your book sold.

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Culled from: Book Marketing Tools

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