After a writer has written and self-published a book, she may be surprised that it will not move off of the bookshelf, virtual or otherwise, without marketing the thing. We often expect things to magically happen, especially after we’ve put so much time and energy into creating said book. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The final chapter in self-publication? Marketing your book.
Marketing is this thing people get college and graduate degrees in. Successfully marketing a product is a long and arduous process. (Success= you were somewhat profitable!) I could give you a detailed list of ways to market your book; however, this information is really too involved to write about in 600 words. There are long, long books written about marketing a self-published book. (Links below!)
You don’t have to be a slick salesman or have a gregarious, charismatic personality to successfully market your book. It is more important to take time to develop a marketing plan and, above all else, to remember basic manners: be kind and be respectful while maintaining confidence in your product.
I’d like to give some tips from the perspective of the buyer. I have never self-published a book, but as a former bookstore manager, I have had authors and songwriters come and try to persuade me to sell their books and CDs. I’ve written two exciting stories of self-publishing intrigue below. The first? The shocking story of a story of a local singer/ songwriter who self-produced a children’s CD. I’ll call him Rufus.
1) Rufus came into the bookstore, approached a seller, and demanded to see the store manager. When the seller told him the manager was not in, Rufus demanded to make an appointment with him. I was called over at this point. I told him we couldn’t very well make an appointment without consulting our store manager, who was away for the weekend, but I would happily leave a message.
That Monday, as soon as the store opened, Rufus began inundating our store with phone calls, demanding to speak with the store manager. He was impatient and rude to those who took his phone calls.
What this guy (obviously) did wrong: He came on too strong. He pissed off a) sellers who could have been great ambassadors for his CD. Instead, they vowed never to promote his music and b) me- he was rude, pushy, and looked past me when I spoke to him. Someone had obviously told him to insist on talking to the one person in charge. He would not listen when I told him our store supervisor was not in charge of buying local merchandise and spent a minimum amount of time out on the actual floor.
The store did end up buying a few of his CDs. He called to set up a time to come and do a concert. Guess who was in charge of concerts? Me. Guess who never gave a concert while I worked there? RUFUS.
Lesson: A little humility goes a long way. No matter where you’re selling your book, remember that it’s usually the “underlings” who are on the floor, letting the public know what books are out there. Whether it’s a seller at Barnes and Noble or Borders, an amateur blogger with a book review site, a cashier at the drugstore where your books are on display, or the leader of a small book club- remember that these are the people who make or break a book. Be kind, don’t be pushy, be personable.
And now for the feel-good scenario:
2) A woman I’ll call Daisy wrote a book about natural dog care. When I first met her, she offered me the book at cost because she wanted me to know what I was selling. She apologized for not giving it to me for free; her budget didn’t enable her to give the books away. She asked if she could do a talk/ book signing. I told her I’d get back to her with some dates. She asked me if she could call if she hadn’t heard back from me by a certain date. She was so kind and accommodating that I found a date and called her back the next day. When she came in for her lecture, she brought the sellers donuts.
Her dog ate mine, but that’s okay. (So much for natural food.)
Lesson: Daisy was persistent, but in a way that showed me she was serious about her book but also respectful of my time and energy. She wasn’t the most outgoing person in the world, but her smiles and thoughtful acts of kindness made up for her lack of charisma. Those working on the day of her lecture always remembered the donuts and the fact that she was so thankful for our time and effort. When anyone asked for books about dog care, we showed them the self-published book by a local author.
As for the logistics of marketing your book? You can spend tons of money and time or do the bare minimum. Marketing takes a lot of work and time. If you’ve published through a self-publishing company, be sure to utilize their marketing materials. Here are some other basic ideas:
1) Figure out your marketing budget and form a plan.
2) Start with a website. Website should have information about the book, locations where to buy the book, an option to buy online, and a link to the self-publisher, if there is one. Optional: a blog and an e-zine subscription.
3) Start local and build outwards. Target local gift shops, supermarkets, bookstores, drugstores, etc. Remember to be kind to those who are on the floor with your book.
4) Create an e-mail signature for EVERY e-mail you send out. It should include your name, number, web address, and a link to where your book is sold. This is an easy way to let everyone know you have a book for sale.
5) Contact local papers and arrange for a press release.
Books to check out:
Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors, Book Publicity through Social Networking
Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com
Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, 16th Edition: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self Publishing Manual)
1001 Ways to Market Your Books, Sixth Edition (1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers)
The entire self-publishing series:
Were there any other pressing questions you had about the self-publishing process? I aim to be thorough!