Advice for writers

Transforming How Writers Promote Themselves


A big question looms for many writers as they face into an uncertain future. How can I, as a writer, promote my books in a way that doesn’t feel grubby and exploitative?

I propose to answer this question by suggesting that writers should consider one of the most influential business gurus, Robert Greenleaf, who created a business philosophy, which inspired Starbucks. South West Airlines and others.

The philosophy is simple, “serve to lead”. Based on a novel, appropriately, it puts forward the idea that leaders will succeed if they serve first.  This philosophy includes key attributes, relevant to writers who must sell, of awareness, persuasion and community, which we see already being successful in the online communities, which many leading writers provide for their readers.

This approach suits the selling of books in this new internet age, as it requires the author to think first about how they can serve the potential readers they meet online, rather than how they can extract money from them.

It is an approach I adopt. I spent twenty five years in sales and at the end, five years ago, I was a sales director for an international software company.

I propose that this philosophy, serving to lead, can help authors who hate the idea of huckstering for sales. Here are some practical ways this philosophy could be used to sell your books in 2015:

1. Be aware of what potential readers want; unique voices, insight, entertainment. Provide something unique to readers, and you will have a much greater chance of success. Saying we wrote a book or what price our book is, are unhelpful ways to promote ourselves. Writing a book, which is a copy of another, is not the solution either. We must bring something new forward. This is not easy, as we still must work within the rules of our genres, but through this we can achieve what we desire as a writer.

2. To persuade potential readers to buy our work we must show the uniqueness of our books in a way that appeals. That means well-edited books, great titles, stunning covers, appealing descriptions, and engaging web sites and blogs for our readers.  Writers are idealists, they believe in what they sell. We want readers to believe in our books too and to spread the word about them. To do that we must serve readers with the best possible books we can make. Writers have been cut off from their readers ever since agents and publishers inserted themselves between the writer and his audience. Now we can get feedback quickly. Let’s use this opportunity, not waste it.

3. If you treat every potential reader like a family member who you want to help, you will listen to the reader, be aware of what they want, and present what you do in an appealing way. Beyond that, we can also include readers in our community in other ways too. We can invite them to be early readers of our next work, ask them what they thought about what they read and listen to their answers. Amazon reviews force writers to consider what their readers think. We can open up to our readers and potential readers by asking them what they think about plot options, character choices, covers and titles.

Developing ourselves in these three key areas in 2015, awareness, persuasion and community, will allow us to sell, without “selling,” and to feel that we doing the right thing, not selling our souls for a chance to survive as a writer.

By serving our readers we can remove the negative aspects of selling and take pride in what we do. Having satisfied readers is one of the greatest pleasures a writer can get. Let’s focus on that in 2015. Good luck to us all!

Email me now if you have any questions on how we can help you sell more


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