Five Essential Elements You Must Have in Place to Sell More Books


write a bookIs one of your business goals to publish an ebook (or physical book)?

Seems like a lot of my clients and colleagues are writing and publishing ebooks right now. You may also be in the process or about to start and I congratulate you for making the decision and taking action.

I’ve had quite a few conversations with entrepreneurs in various stages of writing a book, and I found most of them have one frustrating thing in common.

These smart, successful entrepreneurs are struggling to sell more books.

After doing a couple of brief audits of their online presence, I discovered why...

Most author entrepreneurs do not take the time, or know how to, create a solid online foundation before they write, publish, and sell their books.


These smart professionals are focused entirely on writing their book and frankly, don’t want to think about the marketing part of their author journey.  They believe they can start the visibility and marketing tactics after their book is complete. But, that is too late to make a significant impact on sales.

You need to set the stage and begin your visibility campaign well in advance of publication if you really want to reach a bigger audience and sell more books. As the Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

If you’re at the beginning of your book book journey, start now. If you’re in the middle of your manuscript, start now.

Without a foundation (also known as your “platform”) on which to build a visible presence on the Web, it’s going to be difficult to attract attention and get connected with enough potential readers to make a significant number of book sales. Period.

A traditional publisher is not even going to look at you unless you have your own platform, which means a Twitter following, Facebook following and/or a significant blog following. ~ John Altucher

Before you can initiate an active visibility campaign, there are five foundational elements you must have in place.

5 Elements to Sell More Books

 5 Essential Elements for Your Visibility Plan
  1. Blog – this is a no-brainer. You absolutely must have a piece of digital real estate you own and control. This is where all traffic is directed as you build your audience. This where you post the search-engine friendly content that helps you get found by those searching for the solution you and you book offer.
  2. Email management service – this is also non-negotiable. Without an email list of qualified prospects and customers, you will always struggle to sell your book. The people who give you their email address are telling you they value what you offer and want to hear from you. Do your research and find the best email service that meets your needs and your budget. The most widely used are Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, InfusionSoft and KickStartCart (1ShoppingCart private label and the one I use).
  3. Optin/Landing page – you need a blogsite (#1) and an email service (#2) to set this up. Create a simple page inviting people to get free updates about your book. Offer a gift like a free chapter in exchange for their email address. This is list building 101. (Sample optin page)
  4. Know your audience. Maybe this should be #1 since it dictates everything you do, from the topic of your book to the content you publish on your blogsite.  Where does your ideal reader hangout? Use Quantcast to check out demographics on the sites your audience frequents. Use your Facebook Page Insights to learn more about the demographics of your followers. Use Google Analytics to find out how your blog readers are finding you.
  5. Set up and complete your social profiles. Make sure you are using the social networks your ideal readers’ are using (#4). If they are on Twitter, you better be using Twitter as well. It should go without saying, but I see this mistake all the time… make sure your social profiles are COMPLETE. Include your headshot, cover image, bio, and links to your site and other social networks.  Your social networks are where you will be posting microcontent to entice your readers back to your blog.
Facebook Page Insights

Use Facebook Page Insights to learn about your audience.

Know Your Why

I recently read an article by Kimberley Grabbas about the two things that will make your book marketing easier: know your why (based on Simon Sinek’s work) and know your audience.  It’s the perfect fit and pre-work for building your foundation.

Here’s your Action Plan:
  • Watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on how great leaders inspire action
  • Read Kimberley Grabbas’ article on two things that will make your book marketing easier
  • Review the five foundational elements listed above. What do you have in place now? What do you need to add?
  • Fill in the missing pieces.

When you commit to and implement these early steps in your book marketing strategy, you’ll be well on your way to creating a highly visible presence on the Web and set yourself up to sell more ebooks and books.

I’m curious, what’s your experience been with building your author platform? Did you start early or after your book was finished?  What would you do differently now? We’d love to hear your experience with building an author platform and invite you share with us in the comments below.

Denise Wakeman
Denise Wakeman is an Online Business Strategist and Co-Founder of The Future of Ink. Denise is the host of the popular Hangout show Adventures In Visibility, focused on helping small businesses and online entrepreneurs optimize, leverage, and strategically use social marketing tools like HOAs to gain visibility, build credibility and make more money selling their products and services. Denise is passionate about Adventure travel and how it can inspire you to think bigger and go for what’s possible in your business and life.
Denise Wakeman
Denise Wakeman


  1. Thanks for this! I too have written my first Ebook Go From Blog to Brand in 30 Days and find that while I am well educated on blog marketing, I am less so on Ebook marketing. Using a blog platform seems like a wise idea.

  2. Some very interesting points made. I have done things the other way round – released my eBook, then really started online engagement via my website, blog, and social networks as I write my next two novels. I do agree it is harder this way round but I am now finding it very valuable having my The First Sense , my first eBook as a starting point as I connect/swap tips and engage with others during writing the next two novels

  3. May I add a sixth item to your list?6. Have your own branded email address.When I speak at authors conferences, more than half the business cards I collect have Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail addresses, or and email with the name of their ISP. If you don\’t have a website or a blog, you shouldn\’t be writing a book that you hope to sell. If you have one, get your domain name in your email address. If you don\’t know how to do this, find somebody to help you or Google it. Yahoo and Hotmail addresses, especially, scream \”Amateur!\” and \”I\’m cheap!\”

  4. Thanks for your helpful insights. They are right on track. Preparation prior to a marketing campaign is vital. I am late from the world of surveys, focus groups, test schedules, etc, for many years. I am now focused on being a Boy Scout — “Be Prepared.” I have three E-novels that I will publish in 2014. The marketing campaign for the first: “Body Scavegers” will start in December with the Cover, Logline and Blurb. and targeted PR releases, Facebook, Twitter and my Author’s Page. Free incentives will be a part of the process.

    Thanks again, for the your excellent article and list of resources. Best…


  5. Great post, Denise! If I had not built my platform for my book, How to Blog a Book, with the blog by the same name, it would not have stayed a bestseller on Amazon for more than a year and a half. Nor would I have landed a traditional publishing deal.

    The fact that I have two (I had three until recently) blogs on the topic of writing and publishing, both of which had growing subscriber bases and readership also helped me land that deal and my second traditional publishing deal. I expect that to help me sell my second book, The Author Training Manual.

    I’ve also built platform for the last 9, yes, 9 years on all social networks. While this has been slow going, it’s starting to grow faster and faster now, and this helps me sell books daily.

    And I do use my mailing list…which is also growing now daily, while at first it hardly grew at all.

    I, of course, blogged my first book to help me write and promote (build platform) at the same time. I also blogged most of my upcoming book as well. This is a great strategy.

    It all takes time and effort, which is why you MUST start early–when you first have the idea for a book or decide to become an author.

    You have offered wonderful advice. I hope the readers of TFOI take it to heart.

  6. Thanks for the mention, Denise!

    I agree with your essentials – building a brand and a successful ‘platform’ requires authors, artists and other entrepreneurs to have these basics in place first.

    Much of the ‘pain’ of marketing stems from skipping one or more of these steps; with people rushing headlong into frantic sell-mode because the book (or product) is ready before the marketing foundation has been laid.