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Building a Pathway to Success: How Small Goals Lead to More Book Sales

By Penny Sansevieri

When it comes to publishing your book, all authors have the exact same goal in mind: to sell more books. And this is a great goal to have! But getting there can be a lot more complex than many authors realize.

The key is in creating focused goals that contribute to the big picture of selling more books, and in this article, I’ll break it all down for you and change your approach to book promotion in the process.

One thing is very clear: anything you do around goal setting has to be insanely specific.

When I speak to authors on the phone, or in person at conferences, I always ask them what their goals are.

Sometimes I get super specific answers but in most cases, authors say: “I want to sell more books!” And while “selling books” isn’t a bad goal, per se, it’s a big picture goal. And that won’t get you to where you need to be.

Having no direction other than “book sales” often leads to bad decisions, spending money you shouldn’t on strategies that aren’t improving your discoverability, and ending up nowhere near the final, end goal of selling more books. When you focus your direction on the individual book promotion elements that result in more book sales, your end goal can be achieved.

Creating the Path to Book Sales Success

Let’s break this down and start creating a path to success. For example, let’s say you have a fiction book, a mystery. It’s got a great cover, the reviews have been good thus far, but it’s not really moving the needle on book sales. So, what can you do? Well, let’s take a look at this more closely.


A lot of times, I’ll look at other pieces that maybe the author hasn’t been doing. Let’s say that there hasn’t been an eBook promotion in a while. Since his market is very eBook centric, that’s maybe a good place to start. So, let’s add eBook promo to the list. Now we have:

1. eBook Promo = Sell More Books

Ok, so what else can the author do? Well, maybe they haven’t started building their mailing list yet, so let’s add that to the list.

2. Mailing list > eBook Promo = Sell More Books

But that’s really not enough. Is the author on Goodreads? If not, let’s plug that in. And while we’re at it, maybe he should do a giveaway there, too!

3. Goodreads > Mailing List > eBook Promo = Sell More Books

Getting the idea?

So, each bigger goal is a combination of a series of smaller goals that lead you to bigger sales or whatever is it you’re trying to obtain. Let’s look at a different example.


Let’s say that you don’t care about book sales, but you really wrote your book to get more speaking events. What would that look like for you?

Using Speaking Events as your big picture goal, what does it take to book these? Well, you need some experience. So let’s start with maybe some smaller gigs around town, bookstores or wherever is most appropriate to your book. Chamber of Commerce meetings perhaps? You get the idea:

1. Local Events = Big Awesome Speaking Gigs

But local events in and of themselves aren’t going to land you a big keynote speech. You’ll need more for that. What about a speaker one sheet? If you don’t have one, it’s a page all about you, your speaker topics, and bio. Ideally, it will include blurbs from people who have heard you speak and who were in awe of your topic and delivery. So then we have:

2. Speaker One Sheet > Local Events = Big Awesome Speaking Gigs

But what if you need experience beyond the local events? Have you ever spoken in public before? If not, you can attend a local Toastmasters group. You don’t have to go to a ton of them, but enough to get your sea legs might be helpful. Which would make your new action list look like this:

3. Toastmasters > Speaker One Sheet > Local Events = Big Awesome Speaking Gigs


Running through the process in this article is one thing, but coming up with it on your own is an entirely different matter. Believe me, I appreciate how difficult this can be.

More Social Engagement

Before you get started on this one, you’ll need to read up on what it requires since it is constantly changing. I encourage you to visit the “for business” resources on the specific social media platforms you want to focus on. So “Instagram for Business” or “Facebook for Business” are great examples. Not only are you guaranteed to get the most up-to-date information on using the platform and all the features, I guarantee you’ll learn a lot about what works best in the process.

1. Platform research = More Social Engagement

Social media is also about networking. By keeping an eye on your competition, you’ll learn a lot about what’s working for them plus, you can foster relationships for shared exposure. You’ll also want to figure out who you need to be following and networking with.

2. Networking research > Platform research = More Social Engagement

But research does nothing without some sort of structure to execute everything you’ve learned. So I suggest starting with our Monthly Book Marketing Planner to establish a recurring plan of action.

3. Establish a recurring action plan > Networking research > Platform research = More Social Engagement

But a plan needs details.

So take what you learned during your research. It might be asking more specific questions, getting feedback and opinions, doing polls, posting more videos, etc.

Decide exactly what you’re going to do. Work on some videos, outline your polls and some great questions, wherever you need to put the time in. Then, put it all in a bank you can continually feed so you’re never left staring blankly at your computer wondering what to post.

Create some advance content > Establish a recurring action plan > Networking research > Platform research = More Social Engagement

Now You’re Ready to Roll

So now you have an idea of how to create a list, or a pathway, for your goals. And you should have a better idea of what you need to get to your final, big and awesome goal like selling more books.

That’s the point of this whole exercise.

Before you spend any money on book marketing, it’s important to break down all the specific things you need to do and look at all the pieces that are missing from your promotion.


Because you can waste a lot of money doing things that won’t necessarily help you gain more readers, or sell more books, or whatever your big picture goal entails.

Also, breaking big goals into small, manageable pieces makes it incrementally easier to manage on a day-to-day basis. And, if you’re hiring out your marketing, it’s also easier to know what you need, specifically. That way you aren’t spending money on a bunch of things that may or may not get you to where you need to be.

Having a big goal for your book is a great first step in planning your book promotion. But when you take the time and put in the effort to plan and execute these smaller goals, you’ll find you have the building blocks of a successful marketing plan that puts your end goal right within your reach.


Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit