Entrepreneur’s know what a value statement is. They’re typically used to identify and express what value your company or product brings to consumers and the marketplace. Unfortunately, this very useful self-assessment tool goes unused by writers and artists who have fallen into the trap of assuming that the craft of art and the craft of business are mutually exclusive. The truth is, insofar as your goal as an artist or writer is to make a living at it, they’re actually very similar. The simple reality is this: you can’t make a living at this if you don’t sell your work.
But selling, for a lot artists, is tough. It feels fake. Mostly, I’ve realized, it feels fake because we are focusing on the wrong things. The solution, as I’ve explored elsewhere, is crafting an effective value statement. Here, we’re going to work on writing one.
If Tim Grahl’s Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book (Out think 2013) is a book marketing system, Rob Eager’s Sell Your Book Like Wildfire: The Writer’s Guide to Marketing & Publicity (Writer’s Digest Books 2012) is a general guide to all of the options available to you. Both Grahl and Eagar have impressive pedigrees helping authors become successful. For more on Grahl, check out the category links above.
By way of comparison, Grahl’s book is more a distillation of a process that has worked for him and his clients, whereas Eagar’s book is more a presentation and analysis of the many options available to you as an author.
One of the best sections of Eagar’s book expands on a notion set forward in Grahl’s book.
Identifying How Your Book Helps People
Grahl’s book encourages you to identify how your book helps people. Why? Because identifying this helps you talk about your book in a positive way. It takes the focus off of trying to sell, and places the focus on trying to help. This is the key to effective sales, and something that all natural salespeople know. Natural salespeople aren’t selling, they’re helping. If you adopt that point-of-view, it’ll help selling feel more natural.
As Eagar suggests, “When you possess a crystal clear understanding of your book’s value, your marketing will naturally become more effective.” Why? Because from a marketing perspective, it allows you identify who needs your value the most. And once you know who needs your value, you can identify where and who these people are. Makes sense right!?
Creating a Value Statement
To identify the value of your books, Eagar provides a list of simple questions to help you create a value proposition or statement about your book or work. As he explains, “A value statement is an individual sentence that describes a specific result you know you can create for your readers.”
Your books may have many value propositions; in fact, the more the better. Your goal is simply to clearly describe how your book improves a reader’s life. If you can do this, you will have naturally found a way to focus your marketing efforts.
Start by listing the common results your book (or books) creates for readers. This may seem more intuitive for nonfiction books, but fiction writers shouldn’t sell themselves short. Whether your book helps people achieve a deeper understanding of race relations, or an understanding of the effects of late-capitalism, or if it simply entertains, those are all valuable results.
Now, use quantifier words like “increase,” “decrease,” “enhance,” “strengthen,” etc., to express how your book improves someone’s life. Some examples might be:
- My book helps readers boost their monthly sales numbers no matter what they sell.
- My book helps readers understand what it is like to take care of a parent who has Alzheimer’s.
- My book helps readers diminish the negative self-talk that gets in the way of their enjoyment of life.
How to Use Value Statements to Sell More Books
Eagar suggests using these statements on your website or anywhere your book is sold in order to better appeal to your audience’s emotions. Why? Because, “Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act.” Which is to say, if you want people to buy your book, it needs to appeal to them on an emotional level.
Using these value statements when you talk about your book is also a great way to quickly communicate your book’s value to them. Personally, this process has helped me reframe my understanding of sales and made me more comfortable talking about my book. I can now focus on how my book helps people, not the fact that I want them to buy it.
So, what do you think? Can you write 5-10 emotionally driven, value statements about your book or books? List them in the comments and I’ll do the same.