Thursday, March 21, 2019

How to Use Pre-Publication Planning To Sell More Books

by Susan U. Neal RN, MBA, MHS @SusanNealYoga

Have you ever sold one thousand books in a few months? I did. I published my tactics in the Southern Writers article, “How to Sell One Thousand Books in Three Months.” Edie Melson suggested I share some tips from this article. I will review my strategies in two blog posts: “Pre-Publication Planning to Obtain High Book Sales” and “Marketing Strategies to Improve Book Sales.” To sell this volume of books an author needs to develop a plan that covers book inception to years after release. Here’s my method:

Target Market
When developing a book idea, first determine the size of the readership. For example, the Center for Disease Control indicated “half of all Americans live with one chronic disease.” From my healthcare background I knew many chronic diseases could improve through healthy eating habits and exercise. Therefore, I specifically wrote 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates to improve the health and weight of this audience. As I wrote this book, I kept my ideal reader in mind.

Passionate Personal Story
Everyone loves a story. Even non-fiction authors need to weave stories into their prose to engage the reader. Jesus used parables. In my self-help book, I combined a personal account of how I guided my sister to stop eating sugar and carbs which helped her to lose weight and cure a chronic ailment. 

I also included my passion for healthy living and God’s Word. When you write out of your passion the prose becomes powerful. I wasn’t afraid to add my faith in the manuscript. I believe an individual needs to utilize God’s power to overcome food addiction and emotional connections with food. Therefore, my target audience narrowed to Christians who experienced a chronic condition. 

A book cover should be visually appealing, yet stand out at the same time. Check the thumbnail version of your book to ensure you can see the image and read the title. The title and subtitle should portray the topic of your book and include keywords. 

Two of my book subtitles include: “21 Bible Lessons for Christian Yoga Classes” and “Healthy Eating for Healthy Living with a Low-Carbohydrate, Anti-Inflammatory Diet.” Well-defined titles and subtitles help the reader know they are getting what they want. Including keywords helps readers find your book. Almost every word in both of my subtitles were keywords. 

Reader Benefit/Hook
To attain high sales the target audience must benefit from the book; this is the “what’s in it for me” mindset. Readers may enjoy a novel or gain insight and knowledge from non-fiction prose. Your audience needs to understand how they will benefit from your product. Therefore, incorporate its value on the back cover and in the first few pages of the first chapter. A buyer may peruse those first few pages to help them decide if they will purchase the book, so catch them with a sharp hook.

My hook was “would you like to improve the way you feel and look while increasing your energy level and clarity of mind? How about losing weight naturally without going on a fad diet or buying prepared meals and supplements? You can achieve these results through simply changing the types of food you eat.” Apparently, this hook is working because I sell over 400 books per month.

As a self-published author I needed to find a top-notch editor. I contacted the chair of a large Christian writers conference and asked for her assistance. She referred me to a nonfiction, Christian editor. We worked well together. I sharpened my writing skills, and she learned healthy living habits. She lost twenty-five pounds in five months, and my book won the Selah award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. I love it when a plan comes to fruition.

Before you begin writing your next book develop a well-thought-out plan that includes:
  • Large target audience
  • Personal passionate story
  • Appealing book cover
  • Book title and subtitle includes keywords and defines the book’s topic
  • Reader benefit
  • Hook
  • Superior editor

As you begin planning, pray and receive spiritual direction. I had numerous subjects I could write about, but helping people get off sugar and carbs would improve their health. A healthy individual can serve God better than one who is sick.  My book also met a need in the market.

Currently, I am writing a book on gluten sensitivity and eating a gluten-free diet. Gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) causes troublesome symptoms in many people. In fact, up to 10 percent of the population has a gluten-related disorder. Therefore, I want to use my knowledge as a nurse and experience as an individual who suffers from one of these disorders to help my readers alleviate their symptoms. Jesus wants us to live an abundant life, not one where we suffer from illness. Using the steps listed above helped me determine the subject of this book. 


Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS
Susan’s mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She has her RN and MBA degrees, as well as a master’s in health science. She is a CERTIFIED HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACH with the American Association of Christian Counselors. She published five books, the Selah award winner 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATES, CHRISTIAN STUDY GUIDE FOR 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATESHEALTHY LIVING JOURNALSCRIPTURE YOGA a #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book, and YOGA FOR BEGINNERS which ranked #3. She published two sets of Christian Yoga Card Decks and two Christian Yoga DVDs that are available at CHRISTINAYOGA.COM. Her digital product HOW TO PREVENT, IMPROVE, AND REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA is a great resource. To learn more about Susan visit her website SUSANUNEAL.COMYou can also connect with Susan on FACEBOOKTWITTER, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. Chriswells.grace@gmail.comMarch 21, 2019 at 10:18 AM

    That is a good looking road-map, Susan. Thanks for the insight. Now to just get my creative, free- flowing side to look at the map. Lol

  2. Great, I am glad it makes a logic road map for you. Yes, as an author we have to do it all, don't we?