What Does it Really Take to Become a Successful Self-Published Author — Who Continually Sells an Impressive Number of Books?

by Karen Jonson

Indie Book Marketing Workshop Teaches You What it Takes to Market Your Books, How to Execute Your Marketing Plan, and How to Sell More Books.

Glowing dollar sign to encourage higher book sales

A large number of self-published authors can enjoy higher than average book sales — IF they do what it takes to promote their books like a pro.

If you read widely about selling self-published books, you find two messages speak the loudest.

The first is that you could be selling hundreds, even thousands, of books a week.

The second is that you’ll be lucky to sell one hundred books — ever.

The reality for many self-published authors is not either of these two extremes. The truth is that our book selling results will lie somewhere in the middle — but that is only if we do the work required to effectively market our books.

Happy Medium — Will You Be Happy With Good Book Sales?

In any business sector only a handful of people will be the “superstar” sellers. For book self-publishing, these are, of course, people like Amanda Hocking, EL James, John Locke, and Joe Konrath. For a variety of highly serendipitous reasons, they won the freak-million-dollar-book-sales lottery,

Similarly, every business sector has its outright losers. These are the people who created a product, service, or book, and hardly made any sales at all. The most common reasons for their failure is that they didn’t have a viable product, they didn’t clarify their target audience, and they didn’t appropriately market their products.

While many authors dream of being one of the freak success stories, it’s much smarter to aim for solid, respectable book sales. Facing this practical reality will achieve two important results: It will prevent you from falling into despair when you don’t sell thousands of books and make millions of dollars. And, because you aren’t aiming for something unreasonable, it will help you take a smarter approach to marketing your books.

Spinning Your Wheels? — How to Set Yourself Up for Success

1. Understand What Really Goes into a Successful Book Marketing Strategy.

Reading all of the advice out there on selling self-published books can quickly become overwhelming. At best, it can give you a massive headache. At worse, it can stop you from ever doing anything. One expert tells you to build a huge Twitter following and tweet all day long about your books. Another person says you must create massive Pinterest boards, and actively pin and pin and pin. And someone else proclaims the amazing powers of video, advising authors to get as many videos as possible slapped all over the Internet. While any of this advice might work well for a handful of authors, the majority of authors need a more balanced, broader approach to letting people know their books exist.

2. Adopt a Business Approach to Selling Your Books.

Many self-published “book experts” tell you what to do. That’s the easy part. The hard part is telling you how to do it. And how to market your books effectively begins with a great product — and a business approach to selling your books. You must take off your writer’s hat and don a businessperson’s hat to avoid becoming just another one of the millions of self-published authors who do nothing or very little to sell their books.

3. Take Action to Sell Your Books.

The best advise in the world on how to sell your books will mean nothing if you don’t take action. This is where the rubber hits the road. Instead of spinning your wheels and twisting in the wind wondering everyday what to do next to get the word out to the world that you have a book worth reading, you need to create a plan and work your plan. And sometimes having a book selling coach is the best way to ensure you take the right steps on your book-selling journey.

Market Smarter — A Practical Approach to Marketing Self-Published Books

Better than becoming overwhelmed by too much information, spending hours following the misguided advice of “book marketing experts,” working 24/7 to sell your books with weak results, chasing the pipedream of making millions of dollars, or doing nothing at all, the smarter way to market your books is to create a reasonable business plan that works for your book and your lifestyle.

This is exactly the purpose of the new Indie Book Marketing Community. Unlike other sites, this Community will be focused on three core areas that are important for indie authors’ success:

1. Learning the Ropes. The Community will give indie authors a comprehensive overview of what it takes to market books, including all of the traditional and non-traditional components of book marketing.

2. Promoting Like a Pro. The Community will support authors in the creation of a realistic book marketing business plan designed specifically for their books and their resources and personalities — so they can work professionally to sell their books.

3. Selling More Books. The Community will provide authors with the motivation to stay on track with their book marketing business plans. Sometimes your peers can be the most powerful source of inspiration.

If you want to learn how to market your books smarter, promote them like a pro, and sell more of your books starting right away, check out the Indie Book Marketing Community.

The yearlong Workshop for indie authors begins January 2013. Get on the Early Bird list today to learn how you can register — and become a much more successful indie author.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Markose Abraham December 10, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Hi Karen,
Yes. I agree with you one hundred per cent. Your book will not sell without
proper planned and consistent application. Marketing is a totally different ball game unlike writing.


Carol Anita Ryan December 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Persistence is very important, but so is writing a book you’re proud to market.


Karen Jonson December 12, 2012 at 8:36 am

Hi Carol,

Thanks for sharing. I agree. Persistence is paramount. However, you do need to be doing the right things to make the persistence pay off. That’s exactly what I plan to share in the Indie Book Marketing Community.



Dina Santorelli December 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Hey, Karen! Good post. My question is this (and I’m asking many people in the industry): How many books does a self-published author need to sell to be considered “successful”? A couple of thousand in the first year of publication? Thanks!


Karen Jonson December 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Hi Dina,

Thank you. The number of books an author sells to be considered successful is completely subjective. Every author has to decide that for themselves.

I’ll give you an example: one self-published author recently told me that he’s sold a modest number of his book, however he’s made over 100 thousand a year, because his book has gotten him a lot of paying speaking jobs.

I know you’re probably looking for a specific number, but there is not one I can give you.



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