Using a call-to-action to sell more books

18Aug10

For an author, word of mouth is critical. When readers enjoy a book, they might give that copy to a friend, tell other people about it, or purchase more copies as gifts. All of these lead to higher sales, but I bet only a small portion of readers ever think about doing that type of thing. How can you get more people in the right word of mouth mindset? Simple: provide an appropriate call-to-action at the end of the book.

Yes, I’m aware that many books have a page at the end that tells people about other books from the author or the publisher, or lets people order bulk copies. These look like classified ads or order forms, and rarely make the emotional connection between the reader’s feelings about what they just read, and the action the reader is being asked to take. Instead, I propose using the first page after the book ends — or the back cover — to house something like this:

“Did you enjoy this book? If so, I’d really appreciate if you can pass it along to a friend, tell other people about it, or buy a few copies as gifts. To learn more about this book or see what else I’ve written, visit my website at XYZ. Sincerely, Joe Author”

This call-to-action is short enough to maintain the reader’s attention, personal enough to be taken to heart, and specific enough to make people act upon it. Will everyone rush to take one of the desired actions? Of course not. But if even 5% of the otherwise passive readers are inspired by this targeted message, it should lead to a significant increase in word of mouth recommendations, and a corresponding increase in sales.



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