It’s an interesting time for ambitious authors. Anyone with a story can share it with the world, promoting it through social media, blogging, podcasting, etc. That said, there’s so much content around that it’s hard to stand out. Authors with ambition need to take advantage of all the marketing opportunities available to them.
So let’s say you’ve taken the plunge and written a book, and you find yourself with one overriding concern for the moment: how do you maximize your sales? You want to figure out how to stand out and take full advantage of the digital world — and one option you might not have considered is hosting webinars. Should you use it? Let’s answer some relevant questions.
What can a writer offer through a webinar?
If you’re not familiar with the webinar format, it’s essentially an online seminar that gathers people together to view a presentation and discuss the topics involved. A webinar can be live, featuring a presenter engaging in real-time with the attendees, or it can be recorded and made available to anyone interested in viewing it (you can find more basic details here).
Professionals of all types can use webinars to good effect, but what about writers in particular? Because most people attend webinars to learn, you can focus on skill development — passing on the tips and tricks you’ve cultivated in your writing career. This is great because writing is a dense field with a lot to learn. You can choose a broad topic and teach about writing short stories — or you can focus on something niche like writing first sentences for short stories.
Alternatively, if writing isn’t your main focus but merely your method of conveying your ideas, you could just focus on those ideas. This is what JJ Virgin does: she’s a nutrition specialist who hosts webinars through her community, and passing on her knowledge of nutrition is the perfect way for her to promote her books such as The Virgin Diet.
You could also dish out advice on the practical side of modern authorship. There are plenty of ways to become an author (Jericho Writers details various routes to get published), and it’s natural for an aspiring writer to wonder which path is best for them. Consider that the topic doesn’t matter so much, because no matter what it is, you can find a way to discuss your new book. If you talk about themes, you can bring up how you chose the themes for your book. If you talk about publishing, you can discuss how you got your book published.
This is what Brian Jud does. He concentrates on helping people sell books and sells his own in the process: How to Make Real Money Selling Books. As well as hosting free webinars on occasion, he also sells a series of 3 webinars. The more he sells, the more justified he is in charging people to learn his methods.
How can your webinar drive sales?
General promotion of writing is excellent, but your webinar has a specific goal: to get people buying your new book. How can you manage that? Let’s break it down very simply. Considering that your audience will consist of ambitious writers who want to learn from you, here are some of the key ways in which you can win some conversions:
- Convince the attendees to buy your book. This is the most direct way to sell your book. Open and close your webinar with a plug for your book, and provide clear options for buying it. You know the people attending are likely to respect your skill, so they might want to read your latest work — and good writers need to read.
- Impress the attendees, so they promote you, leading to more sales. Even if someone viewing your webinar doesn’t want to buy your book, they might be sufficiently impressed by your presentation that they decide to mention you through their social media profiles. You could politely ask them to include a link to your book if they do.
- Charge for your webinar and offer a package deal with your book. If you have the expertise to offer, it isn’t unreasonable to expect financial compensation for it, and many professionals build their incomes around selling tuition. One interesting option is to offer your webinar and your book for a reduced price.
How can you promote a writing webinar?
When you’ve figured out what you’re going to offer in your webinar, and how you’re going to use it to drive sales, you need to promote your webinar. After all, it won’t do you much good if no one attends. Here are some tips for getting it done:
- Add a pop-up to your personal website. If you build a custom registration page for your webinar, you can then link out to it through a pop-up on your website. Be careful, though: pop-ups can be very irritating if timed poorly, so get the timing right.
- Distribute a teaser snippet. Try recording some of the content you intend to put in your webinar and uploading it to sites like YouTube and Twitter. It’s akin to offering the first chapter of your book: get people interested through the teaser (set up what you’ll teach people through your webinar), then tell them how they can find out more.
- Write a supporting blog post. Whether you already have a blog or know of some relevant blogs that accept pitches, you could get some good value from writing a blog post about the topic you’ll be addressing in your webinar. Lay the groundwork, then push people to view the webinar.
- List it as an event where you can. Every event listing for your webinar will get it slightly more attention. Eventbrite gets a fair amount of traffic, and there are also sites like TellOnline that are worth considering.
Overall, to return to the titular question — yes, you should use a webinar to sell your new book. Why not? It’s a great way to build up your personal brand and tell people about your work without being too nakedly promotional. Give it a try!