Do you know why people buy your books? It seems like a question that any author should be able to answer in their sleep. Unfortunately many authors and book marketers (one and the same in my view) don’t know the real answer to this question at all. Most authors can tell you in exacting detail what their books have to offer readers, but often don’t have the first clue what actually motivates purchases of their books.
Take sports books, for example. My friend Rich Wolfe, the number-one selling sports book author over the last decade, once told me that that the majority of his books were purchased by women, even though the majority of rabid sports fans are men.
It turns out that most sports books are purchased as gifts (by women) for the rabid sports fans in their lives (usually men). Think about just a few of the implications of this simple fact:
- Sports books should always come in hardcover editions, because hardcovers are generally perceived to be better gifts.
- Marketing copy for sports books should specifically suggest that the books be purchased as gifts, as in “If you have a Michigan fan on your gift list, YOUR SHOPPING IS OVER!”
- Sport books should be advertised and offered where women shop, and, more precisely, where they shop for gifts.
- Marketing dollars and efforts for sports books should be focused on gift-giving seasons and occasions.
Another example is children’s books. Yes, it’s important that children’s books appeal to children, but if you want to sell a lot of copies it’s more important that you appeal to those making the purchasing decisions: parents and educators. Kids want a fun read and a good story, but their parents may have quite different motivations when they buy books for their kids. Such motivations include getting their little tykes over their fear of the dark and to sleep, growing their children’s vocabularies so that they can be successful in school, etc. Because they are the ones making purchasing decisions, it is the parents’ motivations that ought to be the central focus of marketing campaigns for children’s books.
The tendency to pay more attention to the features of a product or service than to the motivations of buyers themselves is a common oversight in business. I can talk to you all day about the superior features of Wheatmark’s publishing services, and explain in detail why Wheatmark’s Authors Academy offers the best path to your career development as an author. But frankly, I don’t understand as well as I should what motivates authors to write and publish books. And I don’t understand as well as I should why authors purchase publishing and marketing consulting services from us. So maybe you can help me out and show me how I can make Wheatmark of more service to you. Please tell me what motivates you to write and publish books, and why you chose to work with us. Send email to shenrie [at] wheatmark.com. I’d love to hear from you.