When I wrote the book Quitter, people initially said two things to me:
1. “I’d read your book, but I don’t want to quit my job right now.”
2. “I’d read your book, but I don’t want to be a writer.”
Both of those statements were problematic because the book isn’t about either of those things. In fact, the very first chapter of Quitter is “Don’t quit your day job.” And the advice is for all job types, certainly not just for writers.
Why did people say those things?
Because I had failed to tell them the book was for them.
That’s one of the biggest reasons people don’t buy your book. As the author, it’s your job to create on ramps to the book for would be buyers. It’s your job to communicate clearly what the book is about and why readers need this particular book above all others. It’s your job to explain why this book is perfect for the reader.
But often, authors finish their book and throw it to the world with an attitude of “Here, you figure out how this applies to your life.” Sometimes it’s because they are embarrassed to appear as if they are too self promotional. Other times it’s because they simply don’t know how to tell people about the book.
How did I fix this problem with Quitter?
1. I admitted the problem was my responsibility, not the reader’s.
2. I brainstormed honest reasons different people might really need the book.
The first one is obvious, but the second took more time. Here’s how I did it:
During speeches or online, I found ways to expand the audience. Every book starts with a narrow audience and it’s your job to widen that. So during speeches I would talk about how hard some day jobs are. I would mention that sick to your stomach feeling you get on Sunday nights when you don’t want to go back to work on Monday. I could see a handful of people react in the crowd. But handfuls don’t create bestsellers. And since I believed in the book, I had to expand the audience.
Next I would say, “Maybe this book isn’t for you though. Maybe it’s for your spouse. You see something in him you wished he saw in himself.” Upon saying this, I would see husbands and wives elbow each other in the crowd. I wouldn’t have said a statement like this if I hadn’t already seen wives buy Quitter for their husbands and vice versa. Now I have two audiences.
Then I would say, “Maybe the book isn’t for you or your spouse. Maybe it’s for your kid. They graduated with a degree but not a dream and now they’re kind of just floating.” Parents would react to this. Now I have three audiences.
Then I would say, “Maybe it’s not for any of those people, but it’s for your mom or dad.” I was blown away when I’d speak at colleges and students would buy two copies of their book, one for themselves and one for their fathers. Now I have four audiences.
The key to all of this again is creativity and honesty.
You spent amazing amounts of creativity writing the book, how dare you phone in the selling?
And you have to tell the truth about who the book is for. I hate when authors say, “The book I wrote is for everyone!” No it’s not, there are entire people groups that don’t need your book. I speak to a lot of middle schoolers. Know what I don’t tell them about? Quitter.
I expand on this idea in more detail with the book marketing consulting I’m doing with authors but if I had to summarize this, I’d tell you those two things over and over:
Be creative and be honest.
If the world needs your book, it’s your job to tell them why.