A Book Sale Plan Worth Millions
byA publicist for James Patterson said, “A lot of authors are just grateful to be published. Not Jim. His attitude was that we were in business together and he wanted us both to succeed, but it was not going to be fun and games.”
Patterson became successful because he treated his book like a product and he wasn’t going to wait around for the publisher to get him noticed.
Keys to Success
Based on the James Patterson approach, here are some keys to his success. Keep in mind that this was his philosophy to become successful, which means he didn’t have much money at the time.
Patterson writes simple books.
Patterson doesn’t consider himself an author, so much as he thinks of himself as an entertainer. He wanted to write books that people would notice right away and be able to read with ease.
Patters said, “I don’t believe in showing off. Showing off can get in the way of a good story.”
Here are some tips based on the Patterson approach.
~ Shiny book covers with big, bold, and colorful lettering. Also, titles that are similar to nursery rhymes. (Pop Goes the Weasel!) Patterson knew that these type of book covers would catch the attention of his target audience. Also, his potential readers would subconsciously think the book would be easy and fun to read.
~ As for writing, he uses limited description, limited backstory, limited scene setting and more focus on the action.
~ Simple words and easy to understand sentences.
~ Short chapters. This means chapters that are 3 or 4 pages.
~ Short paragraphs; usually 1-4 lines.
~ Most importantly, Patterson believed in a thorough understanding of what readers want the most. He never believed in writing for himself.
Patterson researched the best markets to sell books.
There were specific cities that Patterson could sell more books and specific cities that Stephen King and Dean Koontz sold books. Patterson didn’t want to compete with them, but rather market in cities that he could be the most successful.
Patterson increased his fan base systematically. He didn’t focus on marketing in the biggest cities in the United States. Instead he focused on cities where his books would sell the best.
What cities are the best? Here’s what you can do…
~ Research cities that have a large population of people who would be interested in your genre and storyline.
For example, romantic books with a “Love comes first” theme would do well in Hilo, Hawaii and Gardena, California.
Books with a sad/dramatic ending would do well in Ottawa, Ohio and Ferdinand, Indiana.
How do I know this? Market research.
~ Research cities with a large population of mid-high income levels. Studies have shown that higher income families purchase more books than lower income families.
~ Research cities with a large population of high education rates. Studies have shown that higher educated people will purchase more books than lower educated people.
(If you don’t want to spend time doing the research, there’s an easier way. See below.)
Patterson used one advertising idea in cities that he researched.
Patterson preferred low budget television commercials.
For his first book, Along Came a Spider, Patterson wrote and produced a commercial and funded it with what little money he had left. He wanted something simple, powerful, and related to his thriller genre.
Patterson then launched the commercial in specific markets which he would have the most success. Based on his market research, he chose three cities: Chicago, New York, and Washington.
The commercial opened with a spider dropping down the screen and closed with a voiceover that said, “You can stop waiting for the next Silence of the Lambs.”
The result was that Patterson’s book, Along Came a Spider, sold millions of copies.
Patterson needed his books in the front of stores.
This can only happen with proven success. Patterson focused on the above items first, then turned his attention to getting his books in the front of stores.
It’s encouraging to know that Patterson became successful using limited funding. He worked on a marketing approach that would give him the best opportunities. Also, he didn’t depend on a publisher for his success.
Patterson admits that if he didn’t take this approach, he would’ve been just another thriller writer that was grouped with thousands of others who were struggling to be noticed.
Use the same techniques that James Patterson used by starting with one book that you think has the best chance to succeed.
Hopefully, I’ll be writing about you someday…
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