Selling books is just like selling any other product. First you have to have something to sell. Then, you have to convince people to buy it.
One way to convince people to buy your book, or any product for that matter, is to establish trust with your potential readers. Trust is valuable. It is so valuable, that it should be guarded as though it were the most precious thing in the world. Give your potential readers a reason to distrust you, and you may find it hard to ever sell another book. Or, at least sell enough books to make writing worth your time.
There are some really quick ways to loose trust. But, in our zest to sell our product, we might not even realize that we are doing them. That is dangerous. So let’s look at some of the ways we lose our reader’s trust, shall we?
1) Stating a blatant falsehood in your pitch.
“Buy my 5 star rated book!” you might tweet as your enticement to get someone to look at the attached link. But what happens when they click on that link and head on over to Amazon? Will they see only a “4 star” average rating? Or maybe even only a three point whatever ranking? If so, you’ve just lied to your customer and they are going to wonder what else it is you aren’t telling them.
Ok, sure, SOME people might have given you five stars … if you want to play that game to justify what you said. But it still seems awfully fishy. You said it was “5 star”, but I only see “4 star” … am I likely to trust you?
2) Over promising to the point of absurdity
When someone asks you about your book, you claim it is “You know, like a cross between The Hunger Games, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Game of Thrones, with a little Twilight thrown in.”
Really? Think anyone is going to buy that? You’re comparing your book to four best sellers!
What are the odds people will trust you? Especially if your book is not currently being published by one of the big publishing houses? And, frankly, even if you are currently being published by some big, powerhouse publisher, it still seems far fetched. That is, unless you managed #1 on some prestigious Best Sellers list and got that review from some really, really, really respected book reviewer.
This is a classic example of over promising. The savvy reader is going to know you are exaggerating. The savvy reader is going to wonder why you are exaggerating. The savvy reader is going to automatically default to considering your claims to be absurd. The savvy reader is likely to look elsewhere and ignore you.
3) Offering a bribe
I see this so often. Someone is offering something in exchange for buying their book (or even leaving a review). Be it iPods, Kindle Fires, gift cards, etc, the first thing that goes through someone’s mind is, “Why do you have to bribe me to read your book?”
Why indeed? It’s easy to justify doing this by saying that you have to get people interested in your book somehow. But, deep down, people will question your motivation. Yes, even if they jump at the chance for free stuff … they still wonder why the free stuff is needed.
4) Using obvious sock puppets to review your work.
It might work the first time, on your first book; getting friends and friendly reviewers to give your novel glowing words of endless praise. But once those couple dozen people post those praises, other people buy your book, realize that it is nothing like what the glowing praise said it was, then what? If you have six other books, do you think these people will be interested in buying any of them? Here’s a hint: the answer is NO!
Fake reviews, even though they aren’t you directly making the false claims, still hurt you. People are savvy enough to realize that glowing praise that doesn’t seem to match with what they have just read had to be somehow given as a favor, a sort of quid pro quo, and comes back to negatively reflect upon you.
It’s better to be honest. Look, readers are much more likely to give you another shot if the reviews were fair and matched their own experiences. A good book that is called such, gets honest, good reviews (reviews that readers used as a basis to buy the book) will not tick people off as much as a good book (but not great book) that had sky high praise from sock puppets, but that obviously fell well short.