This article focuses on the Self Published writer who wants to get their work out into the hands of the paying customer!
One of the toughest things about being a writer is when you have to come out from behind your desk, book in hand and become your own best salesperson. Suddenly figures are dancing around your mind and you have to pitch a spiel, somewhere somehow to convince people to dip into their pockets and purchase your book.
Of all the kinds of publishing available today self publishing paper product books must be the most risky. Perhaps too the most tantalising. The idea of watching a stack of books dwindle at ever quickening rates until they are all sold is quite tempting. The idea of being stuck with a garage full of books which you can’t sell is the flipside to this coin.
Be sensible and publish using one of the reputable Print-On-Demand publishing services available. Unless you are like me in which case the whole idea of having that stack of books and then watching as the stack dwindles is too tempting.
If you are choosing to self publish by using a printer’s services to print and bind your book your way there are many considerations to make. Take your time planning the font, cover art and binding.
After the hard work is done and you have written and laid out the book, checked and double checked with the printer that you have all the right information, ensured your files are all in the correct format so the printer will think you’re king of customers the next stage is the waiting game. You wait until the printer rings to say, “We now have 1000 copies of your book and you can pick them up today.” Nail biting stuff… (one thousand copies gets you a neat discount with most printers!)
Now your garage is overflowing with neat boxes full of books and you are sure you are king of the self publishers. You are. It is a long road from concept to finished product with the weight of the whole project on your shoulders alone. Congratulate yourself heartily! You deserve it.
Once your celebrations are over you are left staring at those boxes and the realisation sets in that the next few months is going to be spent flogging off your book to every human being you come across.
You need to market your book. You need to pick it up and place it on a silver platter and garnish it with parsely. (Actually that is probably not a bad idea if your book is about cafes, cooking, restuarants, herbs or a whole host of other related topics.)
You need to put your book within reach of readers who buy books! Getting your book out there in the faces of the consumer and convincing them your book is worth buying is nothing short of hard work. Hard work made easier using skillful marketing.
Have you ever joined one of those multilevel marketing type programmes? Ever read those horrid marketing books that scream figures, sales, and have that sell sell sell attitude? Well now is the time all the hoo haa you boohooed at is going to bring you a lot of benefit.
Marketing is marketing is marketing.
If you can sell washing powder to your neighbour or perfume to your cousin you can sell your books! Same diff. Ever worked in a shoe store? A burger joint? Ever sold anything to anyone? That practice is going to come in handy.
Do you now why those marketing schemes work? Because they are in your face! Because they are planned. Because the person selling that washing powder believes, (or can fake believing) in that product. Now we writers of course are at a distinct advantage because we know our book is good. But don’t be fooled. Marketing your book takes a great deal of planning, time and activity.
Here are some marketing tools which are effective. Use combinations of these.
If your book doesn’t have a web page create one. Use the web address of your book as a ‘signature’ on every single email that goes out from your email box. There are free websites. Get one.
As soon as your book is ready for purchase send out an email to your entire email list announcing the birth of your book and include the details of how to purchase the book.
Exchange links with other writers. If several writers each advertise each others website they all benefit. If you have 12 links on your links page that means there are 12 sites out there directing traffic to your site.
Can you advertise locally? Is there a sporting organisation, church, school or charitable organisation who sell advertising space? These are often a less expensive way to advertise.
Think about who may enjoy reading your book who may pass on recomendations about it.
Write your query letters to media persons individually. Find out why that particular person would be interested in your book and focus on that issue.
If they are a triviaphile they may be interested in some trivial detail in your book or even about you. Play on that. Make your query fun and interesting to read. Be real and positive.
That radio announcer who always talks about his game of golf last weekend just may enjoy reading your book about ‘being a golf widow’ or your ‘golf courses of the world’ book or maybe even a novel where one of the characters is a golf nut!
The editor or subeditor of your local paper who write regular articles about the arts in your area may be interested to know of a published writer that they can interview.
Have your kids school got a student newspaper? arrange an interview, if the book is appropriate.
Be bold. Be brave. Be brassy!
You don’t have to be like that all the time just put the face on when you need it and peel it off again when you get home.
Be creative in the ways you get your book out into public view. Does your child’s school have a christmas hamper raffle, what about donating a book to the hamper and writing a special christmas message in it.
Do you know someone running a writer’s course? They may be interested in a little mutual exchange, you come along and entertain the class for half an hour and they will let you bring your books or leaflets about how to buy your book along with you.
Attend writers groups, meetings, and conventions with a stack of books at hand. Be there and be ready. Make up an order form so if you sell out you can take orders and post them on.
Is there a fete, fair, festival, or garage (yard) sale in your area? Check it out. You may be able to hire a table inexpensively and sell your books. People will adore being able to feel they ‘know’ the writer of your book.
There are many creative ways to market your book and you are sure to think of many more. There is no single simple way to advertise and market your book at a low cost but it is not impossible. It just takes some time and energy.