Why The Reader is More Important Than The Sale

When you focus solely on the sale, you lose out on your most valuable resource of all: the reader. A lot of indie authors are too concerned about making the sale that they show very little interest in the reader. Once the book is sold, they conclude that the mission is accomplished. Off they go to find the next buyer. Off, too, goes the book buyer — never to be seen again.

Authors like this tend to struggle for many years, often ending up with nothing tangible to show for their efforts. They focus so much on earning the sale such that they earn neither sales nor readers. These authors may be brilliant writers but, as you can see, they are bad publishers. These are the type of authors who treat their readers as objects of gain rather than as objects of interest.

Unfortunately for these authors, many readers are smart folks and can see through the deception. Once they do, they quickly abandon the author in favour of another who respects them. When you’re losing readers quicker than you’re gaining them, you know what that means.

It should be easy to see why the reader is more important than the sale. Your royalties do not come out of thin air; they come out of someone’s pockets. Since book sales are not tangible assets, it is foolish to chase the sale and ignore the reader. The reader is responsible for the sale. Without the reader, there is no sale.

Readers determine the success and failure of any author. When you treat your readers as respectable human beings, they’ll be happy to patronise you with their monies. When you treat them as dollar signs, they’ll actively avoid you. If you are self-published, then woe to you when your readers begin to avoid you. For each reader that you lose, you lose, at least, ten others that they could have introduced you to.

As an indie author, especially as one who is selling a reasonable number of book copies every month, it is easy to get carried away and begin to take your readers for granted. Unless you know your readers personally, you can’t accurately determine which of them is making you the most money. So, when the reader becomes a customer, keep the customer; and when the reader doesn’t become a customer, keep the reader.

I always recommend keeping an email list of your readers, fans and followers, using an email marketing platform like Mailerlite. This way, you can keep abreast of your relationship with your readers and their relationship with you.

If possible, divide your readers into two segments: Customers and Subscribers. Everyone who has purchased your book in the past is a customer; everyone else is a subscriber. Now your goal is to turn all your “subscribers” into customers, and all your “customers” into repeat customers. It pays to know exactly who and who are buying your books. Pay particular attention to your customers (since they’re the ones who keep you in business), but also make sure to maintain engagement with your entire email list.

When you focus solely on book sales, you’ll eventually exhaust your reach and run out of sales. But when you focus on the reader, two things can happen simultaneously: you acquire lots of readers who will eventually become loyal customers and you’ll enjoy repeat sales that will last as long as your relationship with your customers.

Selling lots of books is not rocket science once you know what you’re doing. The more you learn about the art of selling, the easier it will be for you to understand how much common sense is prevalent in the selling process.

Book selling is a very simple business if you’re willing to keep it simple. When you have a good book product, and access to your readers, it shouldn’t be too difficult to sell it. But you first need to set your priorities straight: It is the reader before the sale.


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