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Opinion: Indie Authors Need to Talk about Selling

Headshot of John Lynch

British self-published author and professional salesman John Lynch

Today’s succinct Opinion post comes from a man with a reputation for handselling his books wherever he is on his extensive travels as a professional salesman, e.g. while refuelling his car on the way to a literary festival! Go on, John Lynch, sell us your perspective on selling…

John Lynch's professional selling advice

John Lynch’s professional selling advice

I’ve been a salesman most of my working life. The first book I ever published (in 1990) was Managing the High Tech Salesforce; last year I published The International Sales Handbook. So I think I know something about selling. When I wrote a post on the subject for the ALLi Blog, it was 2,800 words long, which, Akela (in the guise of Debbie Young) informed me, was about 2,200 longer than it should have been. I’ve therefore posted it in full on my own blog, and I’ve produced this summary of what I think the basic rules should be.

  • Write the best book you can.
  • An original, innovative product outsells a me-too and goes on doing it.
  • You’re going to have to spend some money.
  • Get “I need to sell my books” into your mind and keep it there.
  • Don’t be afraid to sing your own praises.
  • Think about what it is that should make your book saleable and generate promotional material accordingly.
  • Attend as many book signings, launches, literary festivals et cetera as you can get yourself invited to and work out in advance what you’re going to say to people who want to talk about your book.
  • No-one else can sell your books as well as you can.
  • Carry your promotional material with you at all times and distribute it widely.
  • Salespeople know that the person most likely to buy from them now is the person who bought from them before – even if the experience was not 100% good.
  • You build your customer base one name at a time – and that’s also how you lose them.

These rules are expressed in salesperson’s terms. If you want to see the expanded version putting flesh on the bones, you’ll find it here,  where you’ll also find my thoughts on:

  • What selling is
  • What makes a good salesperson (and, no, it isn’t being an extrovert)
  • Is there a difference between selling and marketing?
Covers of John Lynch's first four books

If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

OVER TO YOU

Do you agree with John Lynch’s view, or do you have a different definition or practice that you’d like to share? Please join the conversation via the comments box!

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7 Responses to Opinion: Indie Authors Need to Talk about Selling

  1. Fenella J Miller June 19, 2015 at 11:35 am #

    Maybe this works for some books, but not for mine. I believe absolutely that producing 5+ new titles a year is what sells – nothing else. The must also be well written and produced – that goes without saying.

  2. clare weiner June 17, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    🙂 Yep, it’s not about which kind of Vert you are: it’s about relating (thank goodness)… and I;m off to read the long version of this now … I liked the point about knowing what you are going to say in advance. That makes perfect sense, and is wise advice. Much needed blog here.

  3. clare weiner June 17, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    🙂 Yep, it’s not about which kind of Vert you are: it’s about relating (thank goodness)… and I;m off to read the long versionof this now … I liked the point about knowing what you are going to say in advance. That makes perfect sense, and is wise advice. Much needed blog here.

  4. Michael Allan Scott June 16, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    A hard truth, but essential if one is ever going to make a decent living as a professional.

  5. Laurence O'Bryan June 16, 2015 at 7:13 am #

    100% accurate, John. We are all salespeople in one way or another. We used to have to sell to agents and publishers, now we sell to the readers, one by one.

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