I received an email from a client last week asking my opinion on adding additional content into her book project. Her manuscript is nearly done and she wanted my advice on adding in some additional chapters with resources, tips, and a “plan” to follow.
I suggested against it.
Oh! Did I surprise you? Let me explain:
In the industry where she works (health coaching) it is a very common practice to add several bonuses to the main offer. The thought is that you’ll come for the meat of the topic (main offering) but stay for the potatoes, salad and dessert (bonuses).
However, in the book publishing world, this approach often backfires. Your reader purchased your book for a very specific reason; they were looking for a very specific solution. Offering them more than what they came for usually doesn’t scream “BONUS INFO! This author really knows her stuff!” It says: “This author couldn’t figure out how to stay on topic!”
I’ve seen it in a lot of independently self-published titles, both in fiction and non-fiction. Here are some examples:
I buy a Kindle version of a novel. Upon “finishing” the book, the progress bar that tells me how much of the book you have left to read is saying 20%. That last 20% of the book are excerpts from the author’s other novels.
Now, at first glance, that seems like good marketing, right? I just finished this novel, presumably liked it since I got to the end, and I get a taste of more stories. But think about the math: I paid $4.00 for the book. But 20% of the “book” wasn’t a book. It was just advertisements placed there by the author.
I really spent $3.00 for the book and gave the author $1.00 for the PRIVILEGE of selling to me. I think I might be a bit annoyed.
I purchase a book on how to use a trade show event to attract new clients to my business. I’m expecting a book that will have tips, tricks, techniques, sales tools, etc all revolving around a trade show.
I get one chapter about finding the right trade show, one chapter about setting up the booth, one (short) chapter about a free giveaway to build my newsletter list. Then, I get six chapters about how to email that list, how often, what to say, etc and a call to action to buy the author’s email newsletter building program.
Again, it seems like good marketing, right? I’m learning how the author is an expert in list building.
Here’s the rub, I really spent my $6.00 on a book about TRADE SHOWS! I got three chapters about trade shows and six about email newsletter lists. I’m feeling flat-out ripped off!
So how can you fix this problem?
1. Deliver what you’ve promised
If I’m expecting a novel, give me a story. If I want a non-fiction book, especially a how-to, solve that problem for me.
2. Offer related “bonuses”
My recipe books offer 33 recipes and four tips on camp cooking, each under a page long. It works out to approximately 36 pages of recipe content to 4 pages of “bonus”. Or, another way of looking at it is 90% content they paid for (recipes) and 10% bonus (tips).
3. Point them at a second book!
Break your content into targeted chunks. Then make each chunk its own book. At the end of each book, give links to the others.
We’ve been trained that offering bonuses is the key to getting more sales. But in books, the price point of purchase is so low that only the most targeted of bonuses really impact sales.
Coming back to my client; she decided to keep her initial book with a highly targeted focus. We’re moving all the “bonus” material into a companion book project that will dovetail into her existing marketing.