by Janet Kobobel Grant
We all care about how many copies our book sells, right? But who among us is thinking about sales velocity?
Velocity is created when you emphasize garnering significant sales for the day (or week) the book releases rather than being concerned about how many copies the book ultimately sells.
Why does velocity matter?
- help to create word-of-mouth and therefore generates more sales
- put books on best-seller lists
- cause readers (and sometimes media) to pay attention
How to create velocity
Amazon sales rankings
Cathie Beck self-published her memoir, Cheap Cabernet, after trying to place her manuscript with a publisher for ten years. In Publishers Weekly, she explains how she leveraged the idea of velocity to jump start sales. “What if I treated it [self-publishing the book] like a small business and just did an exhaustive marketing campaign online, and I got everybody to buy the book one day on Amazon so sales rankings would go up, and I created buzz around that and put that buzz in front of agents and publishers?”
Her strategy worked. As a result of her Amazon sales efforts, she obtained an agent who then found a publisher for the book, presenting it as an Amazon “heat seeker” to the editor.
Create a launch team
Gathering readers who are enthusiastic about your soon-to-release book and giving them specific assignments to fulfill the week of your book’s launch, is a great way to create velocity. And your not having to do all the work; you have a raft of friends and fans multiplying the effort. Nowadays publishers expect every author to create a launch team. They can vary in size from 20 to 500 people.
Rally your readers
Another author sends stickers to everyone on her mailing list, asking them to put the stickers on their calendars to remind then to buy the author’s newest book on the day of its release. The goal? Create velocity. Get on the best-seller list.
Find fans among other writers
Still another author created velocity by asking a well-known writer for an endorsement of her debut novel. When the writer provided the endorsement, she loved the book so much that she suggested she ask some of her published friends to endorse the book as well. The enthusiasm among these women for the book was so great, that each of these authors “adopted” the debut novelist, and they formed a plan to promote the book among their individual readers via social media the day it released.
In turn, the media picked up on the frequent mentions of the novel and started to ask the author for interviews. The result? Velocity. (All based on writing a fabulous manuscript and not being afraid to ask an established author for help. And a gang of authors knowing the power of velocity.)
Why velocity rather than sales?
My point is that, in many ways, it’s easier to create velocity than it is to work to generate long-term sales. Velocity is something you can focus on. You think in terms of either generating as many sales through as many venues as possible on a given day, or you concentrate on one venue for a given day (such as Amazon). You, as the author, are very focused, and you give your readers a very focused way to respond.
It’s such a simple concept; yet it can have such a profound effect.
So, if you’re stymied as to how to generate sales, think velocity.
Have you ever used velocity?
What ways can you see using velocity to make one of your titles a success?
How velocity can create more book sales. Click to tweet.
Why an author should focus on velocity rather than long-term book sales. Click to tweet.
Ed Abbey called his ‘Solitaire’
a patient, burrowing mole.
Sales never hit rarefied air,
but year to year it paid his toll.
It came out when word of mouth
was exactly what it meant;
his ramblings in the dry hot south
formed elegance rarely lent.
It stands apart in quiet grace
and an arid dignity;
commending us to sense of place,
leaving wonder as legacy.
The hard-won truths of rough-shod feet,
these decades on, are still a treat.
The collection of essays comprising ‘Desert Solitaire’ is actually (in my opinion) matched by ‘Down The River’, and surpassed by ‘Beyond The Wall’.
A writer like Ed Abbey sets his own velocity of the heart, and few have ever matched it.
Morgan Tarpley Smith
Wow!! Great plan!! It makes total sense to focus on velocity. I’m definitely keeping this all in mind so I can do this when I am published. Thanks, Janet!
You’re so welcome, Morgan.
Wow…you ladies post the most interesting and helpful information. Printing this out now for my release day goals! Thank you!
There’s a spiritual parallel here, Janet. Are we counting (or comparing) the outcome of ministry instead of stepping forward as the Spirit moves?
Janet, this makes so much sense. We can’t necessarily control long-term sales. But, we can do things to create velocity. Thanks for sharing this!
Exactly, Jeanne. It makes all the difference in how you think about obtaining sales for your book.
This is so interesting! I enjoy doing things like this–as an art teacher, I love promoting my students’ work when they appear in shows etc., so it seems to come naturally. Wonderful to imagine my work being endorsed– An uplifting post, Janet–thank you!