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It is better to focus on selling the books you have written than it is to write the next book. 

How’s that for a controversial statement? Obviously, if you have only one or two books under your belt, it probably won’t hold true. However, for those working on their second trilogy or with a backlist in the high single digits or more, it’s a reality—even more so if you’ve written dozens of books. And I’m going to convince you why.

What is your monthly sales figure? Wouldn’t you like to double it before you write the next book? Time and time again, I have taken a pause in my writing schedule, delved into the analysis side of my marketing strategies, and increased my income by a sizable percentage. 

You can too. I have proven this with other authors. 

Let’s say you have written X number of books. You are dabbling with some ads on Facebook and Amazon, maybe running a paid promotion here and there, and you are selling $Y worth of books a month. You just need more books, right? 

Adding another book gives you an average Z percent more product on the market. The more books you have, the smaller Z becomes. But if instead of plunging straight into your next project, you instead focus on figuring out advertising and marketing for your existing books, you can make 100 percent more money. Maybe 200 percent. Heck, it could be 1,000 percent. 

That’s what I did, and I was not the first nor the last to figure out this equation. 

When I gave some real thought to how it ought to be advertised, I generated six times more sales between one month and the next. It was book 1 in a series, and you can imagine what this did to my overall income from the subsequent books.

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Figure 1.

When I gave some real thought to how the first book in my series ought to be advertised, I generated six times more sales between one month and the next.

How? I learned to use Facebook advertising. Yup, that’s pretty much it. There are multiple platforms out there for marketing your work—Facebook, Amazon, BookBub—and over the coming months, I plan to show you how to be successful with all of them. However, I urge you to focus on one for now. 

Learn one, get it right, and when it is doing what you need it to do, then consider another option. 

Maybe you are selling lots of books without advertising. It happens for some people. They write something great, they nail the cover, and the book flies. But for how long? If this describes you, how will you maintain sales when they start to dip? What are you doing about sales of your backlist?

For most authors, the very simple equation is that you need to spend money to make money. You can do lots for free: newsletter swaps, grouped promotions on sites like Bookfunnel or Story Origin. Some will have success with such tactics. But I do not know anyone who achieves sustained sales over the years without paying to advertise. 

Steve Higgs

Steve Higgs

Now retired from the military, he is having a ball writing mystery stories and crime thrillers and claims to have more than a hundred books forming an unruly queue in his head as they clamour to get out. He lives in the south-east corner of England with a duo of lazy sausage dogs. Surrounded by rolling hills, brooding castles, and vineyards, he doubts he will ever leave.

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