Why People Don’t Buy Books!

book marketing Jan 28, 2022

When authors ask me to publish their book, there are two questions I ask them. I’ll address one question here and the second one in the following chapter.

The question I want to draw your attention to here is “What do you want your book to do for you?”

Believe it or not, the most frequent answer I get to this question is “I want to sell a lot of books.” When I ask for a quantity they had in mind, I get numbers in the hundreds of thousands and even a million.

To delve deeper into my prospect’s answer, I ask if they have a plan as to how they will do this. More often than not, there isn’t any plan other than having several thousand followers on social media, usually Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Digging even deeper, I ask if they have their own database they currently market to. Some do, but most don’t.

Without being a psychic, this conversation speaks volumes about what’s going on in the author’s mind. Why? Because it’s so common.

The Book Marketing Myth

What’s going on is a book marketing myth, which goes something like this.

1. You write a book

2. You post it on Amazon.

3. You tell your family, friends, and followers that you’ve published a book.

4. You expect it’s going to sell like hotcakes.

And it might!

However, with more than 30 years of experience publishing books and helping authors with their author marketing, I’ve yet to see this formula play out according to the fairy tale myth.

You’ve invested so much time, energy, and money for your book not to sell. And, you’re not alone because most authors, non-fiction and fiction, struggle to sell books.

Why the fairy tale myth doesn’t work

The fairy tale doesn’t work for the simple reason that people don’t buy books!


Before you attack me for saying this, let me explain.

I love books!

And, in addition to having a copy of every single book, Aviva Publishing has ever published (over 450 titles to date), my bookshelves are jam-packed with more than 500 books that I’ve personally bought. You could say that I’m the “Imelda Marcos” of books!

For those unfamiliar with Imelda Marcos, she was the first lady to the President of the Philippines in the mid-1960s who amassed a personal shoe collection of several thousand pairs. She loved shoes and I love books. That’s as far as the comparison goes!

Why I Buy Books

If people don’t buy books, then why do I buy them?

My love of books isn’t for the tangible item, rather it’s for the value each and every one of my books offers. Plain and simple, that’s the reason I bought them.

I bought them to learn. To learn how to improve my sales, marketing, or customer service competence;’ how to upgrade my ability to be a better speaker, trainer, coach, or consultant; how to master writing copy that sells or how to draft book proposals that excite publishers.

And, the list goes on and on.

People don’t buy words on pages encased in a soft or hardcover. Rather, they buy what the book can do for them. They buy the value the book provides. They buy non-fiction books for inspiration, motivation, or education.

Fiction books, on the other hand, are a whole different animal that appeals to various emotions and ways to escape the real world.

In summary, people don’t buy books. They buy what the book can do for them.

If you want to focus on selling books you better know the value your book offers your target audience. And, you better have a strong action plan because chances are almost zero they will sell themselves.

What value does your book provide your target audience?