A book sales funnel is a series of steps carefully designed to guide readers toward your book, your brand, and ultimately toward making the decision to purchase from you. In this guest post, bestselling author and co-founder of BookAds.co, Brian Berni, shares his insights on why book sales funnels are a critical component to growing your book sales (while still allowing time to write).
Most writers got into the game to write, not spend every waking hour of the day promoting their books.
However, there is a way to sell more books, reach new readers, and build your audience, all while giving you more time to write.
It’s through building a book sales funnel.
Ultimately, the goal of a book sales funnel is to bring new readers into your world. A solid book sales funnel will help you get reader email addresses, so you can stay in touch, build a connection, and sell more books with ease.
Below you’ll learn how book funnels can help your author career, and the steps you can take to build a funnel today.
Why You Need a Book Sales Funnel
Imagine spending hours pouring over your new book. You’ve done rounds of editing, have the cover designed, book copy all finished up, now it’s time to launch your book to the world.
There’s only one problem, there’s no one waiting to buy your book.
Sure, you can run ads for your book, but good luck converting to a book that doesn’t have any reader reviews. You could blast it out to social media, hound book bloggers, or get family and friends to buy your book, but none of this works long-term.
Instead, you can put in a little work upfront to build a list of readers who are eager to buy whatever you release.
The goal of a book sales funnel is to help you generate new leads – aka future book buyers – and sell copies of existing books.
With a book funnel, you’re using a single book as a way to acquire new customers and get people into your world. Ultimately, you are offering something of value to your readers in exchange for their email address. Then you follow up, bring even more value, and when you have another book to sell, you have a huge list of readers to promote to.
One of the best parts of having a book funnel in place is that it gets stronger with every new book you release. This helps to put your book marketing on autopilot, so you can focus your energy on writing more books.
Every book you release will have a freebie offer in the first few pages, which encourages new people onto your email list. So, not only do you have your existing list of readers to promote your book to, but new people will be coming into your world every day.
Four Crucial Book Sales Funnel Elements
A book sales funnel can be as simple or complex as you’d like it to be. But, here are the 3 main components of every book funnel:
1. A Book
Naturally, you’re going to need a book. No matter what kind of author you are, or the genre you write in you’ll need something published in the big online marketplaces: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and more.
You can price this book, or list it at $0.00. It depends on the type of funnel and how many books you have written.
2. A Freebie
To get people to join your book funnel you’re going to need an offer that makes them want to give you their email address.
The type of freebie you give away will depend on the genre you write in. For example, fiction authors can give away a short story or a free book. While non-fiction authors can create a free course, email series, worksheet, or small eBook.
3. An Opt-in Page
An opt-in page is where you’ll send your readers after the freebie offer. This page is simple, the only goal is to get readers to enter their email address. A compelling headline, book cover image, and email subscribe box are all you need.
4. An Email Sequence
The whole goal of your funnel is to get readers onto your email list. Once a reader joins your list you’ll want to do two things: build trust and let them know about other books you’re selling.
This is where automated email funnels come into play. You create an automated sequence that runs the moment a new reader joins your list.
Two Tried and True Book Sales Funnel Methods
There are a ton of ways you can create funnels, but the two approaches below apply to both fiction and non-fiction authors.
1. The Three-Book Funnel
One popular approach for building a book funnel for fiction authors is the three-book method. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Book one is entirely free. This allows you to get free eyeballs on your book, and build a readership. You can also use paid advertising with this book and convert more people to your email list.
- Book two can be used as a freebie. You can give this book away as the freebie to entice subscribers. However, you can also list this book as a paid book on online retailers.
- Book three is paid from the start. By now, readers are already into your world and interested in your new releases, so use this as the main asset you’re going to direct buyers towards.
This funnel setup works great for fiction authors who publish series fiction. Now, it is more of a long-term strategy, as you’ll have to write 3 books just to create the funnel. But, you’re building long-term reader relationships this way as well.
You’re getting an email address from someone who’s already enjoyed your first book and is excited to read the next one. Now, you can promote every new book you release to the same readers.
2. The Free Offer Book Funnel
The free offer book funnel is a popular funnel for non-fiction authors. Instead of creating an entire series of books you can sell your first book and create a free offer that’s related to your book.
This can be a lot of things like:
- A 10-part email newsletter
- A short video course
- A workbook or toolkit
- A related eBook that solves a specific problem
You can also use the free giveaway that you create to upsell to high-level courses, coaching, and masterminds later on.
Setting Up Your Book Sales Funnel
A successful funnel only needs three things. Here’s a deeper look at how you can integrate your books with your freebies, and ultimately get new readers onto your list.
1. Create Your Freebie
We’ll assume that your book is already written, so the next thing you’ll need to create is your freebie.
If you’re a non-fiction author, then think about what free offer will enhance the book they’re reading. If you’re a fiction author, then the best free offer will be another book from the same series, a short story, or an epilogue to your series.
For example, in the non-fiction space author Steve Scott has a free quick-start guide that accompanies the main book:
While in the fiction space, Nick Stephenson offers a free prequel to his thriller series:
Think about what type of gift your reader would love that’ll enhance the reading experience.
2. Build an Opt-in Page
The good news about your opt-in page is that it doesn’t have to be super complex. The goal of this page is to present your offer and have your readers enter their email address, that’s it.
Your opt-in page will include your offer. This could be a short story, an email course based on the principles in your book, a short eBook, or even an entirely free book. The most important thing is that your offer (or freebie) is incredibly valuable.
You’ll present this, with a compelling headline, an image of your offer (usually a book cover), and an opt-in link or button so your readers can join your list.
Here’s the simple opt-in page for the thriller book mentioned above:
3. Create Your Email Sequence
Your email list will be one of your most valuable assets as an author (that, along with your books of course).
Before you launch your books you’ll want to have an email funnel sequence in place. That way if your book does sell a ton of copies during the launch, you’ll be ready to convert new readers and visitors into email subscribers.
Here’s a quick outline of an email sequence you can create:
- A confirmation email sharing the freebie and welcoming new readers to your list.
- Freebie reminder (if they didn’t download) and more about you.
- A value-added email to help your reader solve a problem (or entertainment-based if fiction).
- An upsell to something you’re selling for a discount, could be a course or eBook, or another book in your fiction series.
- Reminder email that the discount is expiring soon.
- Follow-up emails that are a mix of value-packed information, stories, and selling products or books.
Book Funnels: A No-Lose Marketing Strategy
Creating a book sales funnel takes time and energy.
But, the upfront creative investment will pay dividends in your author career. The more books you publish, the more readers you’ll have coming into your world.
Plus, with your ever-growing email list, every launch will get easier and you’ll start to build a group of raving fans that support your work and can’t wait for your next release.
If you want to spend more time writing books and engaging with readers, while selling more books, then sales funnels should be a part of your author toolkit.
Brian Berni is a bestselling author under multiple pen names. He blogs for writers and self-publishers at AuthorsTech.com and is the co-founder of BookAds.co, an agency that helps authors advertise their books through Amazon and BookBub Ads.