- Find free or low cost methods to market book
- Advertise and sell your book
- Organise Promotional Materials
- Make list of potential target audience
- Make list of potential distributors
- Make contact with potential audience
- Approach or contact potential distributors
- Market, sell and distribute your book
FINDING MARKET SPACE
Are printed books out of fashion?
According to many ebook experts, printed books are on their way to never, never land.
Nope, not true. indeed, far from true.
Infact, plenty of vanity publishers would have you believe they’ve paved the way to a printed book revival and that their role in the Print on Demand (POD) book industry is a testament to that.
Hmmm…also a bit of porky pies.
What’s more likely is they are feeding a frenzy of fragile egos caught up in dreams of a book deal and an audience of millions. Coupled up with a free platform to churn out sub-standard quality books like link sausage and who’s NOT gonna jump on the band wagon of no return? Some authors would trade in their writing hand for a bit of exposure. Lots of vanity pubishers cash in on that vulnerability and manage to convince many they they need to be on the shelves at any cost. Most of the time this is at the expense of the struggling author who is already feeling like he can’t catch a break. Now he’s about to excitedly empty what little profit he might make, out of his back pocket…and into, yep–there it goes…into the cyberpiggy banks of the online predat…oops, I mean publishers.
But look, despite the range of the cheap rubbishy publications that have flooded the market expecting to garner attention, plenty of readers DO prefer the feel of a real book nestled in their hands. But a good quality publication. With some time dedicated to the design and presentation. Think of it like a gift to the reader. Not an insult you’ve thrown together and hurled at them, insisting they appreciate it like fine wine. And then of course you have the gaul to ask them to review it online and expect honesty in absolution.
Real readers want real books. Printed books. Stuff the trendy ebook revolution! Who wants electric books and cybermutations of text and technology? Damned textnology!
Readers want books in an array of different sizes and colours. They don’t want to be faced with the same old boring bit of crumpet time and again. Imagine trying to curl up with a good ebook. That hard, unfeeling nine inch plastic moulded screen…your overworked retinas now pixellated and numb with the glare. Gnarled hands aching from clutching it in the same position from page one to three hundred. You can’t even make use of your favourite book mark. Not to mention the frustration of having to shelve the stupid electric book once it’s turd flat and you can’t finish the cliff hanger before bed because you’ve mislaid the charger.
So, don’t worry, the trusty old printed book will stay in vogue for many years to come. Hard backs may disappear in the dust with the outlandish prices they’re manufactured for and the ebook may fizz when the internet blows up but the good old printed paperback is here to stay, along with the unwavering support of millions of book lovers out there.
Well that’s my point of view and I’m prepared to argue it out in literary court, if need be.
So, now you’ve established the fact a printed book is sellable…it’s time to work out how and where to pitch it.
Before you appear on the scene with your book it’s good to have some kind of literary creditibility. You can’t just arrive with your brand new book and shout “I’m here…Buy my book!” Well you can, but chances are, they won’t. Then your prime opportunity will have been and gone in the blink of an eye. Remember you only get one chance to make a first impression. If you can gain any kind of literary traction before you take to the streets selling your wares then the job becomes much easier. People already know your name and are hopefully familiar with your work or your style.
Network and hang out with those who can provide you you opportunities to springboard your writing into the spotlight. Working quietly in the background before your book hits the shelves can be of great benefit. You can create a buzz before your literary rocket actually launches. With the right things in place you can be a well organised but unassuming looking marketing machine. This may give you a more genuine shot at selling your book to the masses. You’ll have a less confrontational approach too, than the traditional cold hard face to face sell.
Below are some suggestions to try which may pay you dividends in the long run. At worst, they’ll improve your writing and PR skills.
Look at doing some of the following things:
- Joining a writing community
- Joining a writing forum and participate
- Initiate discussion and start your own forum
- Volunteer Readings at your Local Library
- Volunteer Readings at your Local Schools
- Joining a Local Reading Group
- Brainstorm with like-minded people
- Submit samples to online ezines
The range of suggestions mentioned above give you different strategies and opportunities to have a voice and make it count. When you’re book comes out, chances are there may be more interest generated if you’ve already left your personal stamp or made your literary presence felt in some significant way. At best, it’s a start and most of the suggestions merely involve the giving of some of your time and effort, more so than your cash.
With that said, you CAN try and buy sales.
It’s called PAID ADVERTISING. Avoid it unless you really have the bucks to splash around because obviously there’s no guarantee or winning formula. You can pour an absolute bunch of money into it for no return. Be wary of online companies trying to diddle you out of your dollar for this kind of advertising. They don’t give two hoots about selling your book, just selling you an advertising package.
Exhaust your FREE or cost effective avenues first!
GETTING YOUR BOOK INTO THE MARKET PLACE
So, let’s get to it!
Just where do you go to set about promoting your brand new publication?
Locally is a great place to start. Have a mini book launch. Don’t be afraid to promote your book to anyone and everyone, unashamedly. Get right behind it! You WILL make sales and it will show you believe in your book. Plenty of writers who vanity publish with online companies don’t go much further than getting it to print and selling a few dozen copies. They don’t want to promote it themselves, so live in the hope and expectation that some vanity publisher is going to magically be doing all the work, busting their big ones to promote it.
Unless you have an absolute best seller, no one will be snapping you up and doing you any favours, pushing it on your behalf. So it’s up to you in every way, to get yourself out there. Once your book is read, if it’s the goods, it will start to make it’s own mark. If it IS outstanding, then it WILL create it’s own postcode and everyone will want to live there. It effectively promotes and sells itself. So I guess the key is to write a fantastic publication and your book will do the rest for you! Well, that’s the plan.
And hey! Why put your profit in someone elses open pocket instead of your own, for crying out loud?
Take charge! Be bold! Be ballsy.
Sieze any or all opportunities that don’t involve giving the book away directly or at best, as few times as possible. After all, it’s about book sales, not book giveaways. With that said, if you can use a sprat for bait, it may be worth the mackerel.
Below is a list of suggestions of places and opportunities where you may be able to openly promote your book. Approaching wholesalers that might give you a good deal or extra exposure when your book first comes out are worth looking at. But a wholesaler will usually want a decent percentage somewhere between 30% – 40% of the retail price. So weigh up volume against profit margin. With that said, they have to be turning the books over regular for you to benefit greatly from a deal like that plus you’ll need a hefty retail and low production cost.
So if you want ALL your profit, you’ll have to control direct sales. Look at leaving complimentary copies where it might be read by a broad audience. this helps get it out there and generate interest. It will depend on the type of book you have written and where your potential market is. You’ll have to expect to give a few copies away, to drum up some action, but NOT to friends and family. They are the ones who should be supporting you and buying your book. At full price. Basically every little bit of promotion you can muster, gives it awareness in the potential market place and gets your book right in amongst it.
PLEASE NOTE: Some suggestions may NOT be suitable as it will depend on the type of publication
- Work Colleagues
- Facebook Friends
- Other Social Media Contacts
PLACES TO PROMOTE AWARENESS FOR YOUR BOOK
- Local Events
- Promotional Occasions
- Your OWN Book Launch
- Poetry Slam Nights
- Open Reading Nights (chapter readings)
- Online Writing Communities
- Your own Website
- A Link on someone elses Website
POTENTIAL PLACES TO SELL YOUR BOOK
- Local Markets (weekends / monthly)
- Your OWN Book Launch
- Your own Website
- Local Newsagents
- Local Shops (where suitable)
- Specialty Shops – Cafes – Coffee Shops
- Book Shops
- Book Warehouses
- Local Library
- State Library
- National Library
- Local Services – Dentist – Doctor – Hairdresser
- Local Coffee Shops and Cafes
- Your Child’s School
- The School Library
- Donate as Raffle Prize
- Places people are waiting
THE TECH SAVVY AGE OF ADVERTISING
I also have to get on the tech band wagon. Through the emergence of popular social media platforms, the time has never been better to advertise your publication online whether it’s a printed book or otherwise. You can definitely give it some free traction in a fast-growing market, with an audience that consumes online products and infommercials like artificial sweeteners. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any quirky places that look like they could be a niche market space for you…pounce on.
There are so many ways these days, to spruke your wares, with a plethera of free avenues to travel down. So get your thinking cap on, do plenty of homework and you’ll be sure to come up with a strategy to get your book out there amongst it. I say take advantage of any unique and cost effective opportunity to flaunt your baby and the way it’s pages turn…
VIDEOS AND PODCASTS
You Tube clips and videos can have a real presence, not to mention the inate ability to go viral when you’re not trying to. When put together right, they can be both dynamic and entertaining with their visual aesthetics. So look at all your options, particularly ones you can manage to do yourself at little, or no cost. Pull a favour from a tech head mate, if need be. Don’t be afraid to ask because it will be a cinch for them and they’ll probably be delighted to be able to assist you. I’m planning on enlisting my eleven year old son for help when it comes to the making and uploading of my poetry readings to Youtube vids etc. He is also a whizz at Stop-Motion Videos which led me to thoughts about creating simple animated clips to go with some of my short poems.
A Podcast is another option and an attractive one for those who don’t like to get in front of the camera but perhaps have a standout reading voice. A Podcast is a digital audio file that is typically available as instalments or a series. It is available on the Internet and can be downloaded to a mobile device or computer and can be received automatically by subscribers. Perfect for all sorts of book genres and scenarios. Excellent for poetry readings and short stories as they create vivid pictures that unfold from the words created. But also ideal for novel chapters as they invite the reader to invest in the plot, sit back, relax and enjoy the story, but it hooks them in so that they return for the next instalment. You can set up a Podcast as a free subscription service that notifies fans or followers when the next instalment or offering is.
So look at both mediums as a very effective tool in the way you’d like your work to be received, read or promoted. It gives you the direct opportunity to deliver it, exactly how YOU intended.
- Business Cards
Printed promotional material gives potential or interested customers a sneek peek at your wares, but costs. There are different types of things available and it’s a matter of deciding what works for you if anything. Even something small and informative like a business card for your book is helpful. It looks quite professional, you can have all the contact details on it and get a few hundred printed and delivered for a low cost. But bear in mind you’ll have to provide your own artwork, supplied as a print ready file or files and if not, you’ll hve to pay someone to set things up for you.
I had a 20 page sampler of my book printed and selected around 12 poems to feature in it. It gave me an opportunity to road test my printing people for efficiency and quality. I had a quantity of a 100 printed for a few dollars each and was most pleased with the result. It was actually BETTER than I expected. I’ve found it to be ideal as a teaser to pique the interest of potential buyers. I find I can target a specific audience and give them something in their hands that reflects what they’d be investing in. I really want MY buyers to WANT my book. This style of advertising I found had quite a personal appeal and definitely struck a chord with my audience, instantaneously.
For those who might feel a bit uncomfortable with the hard, face to face sell, something like this is perhaps a less confrontational approach in promoting your printed publication and getting it out there. Anything you can do is a step in the right direction but look at your budget and what makes good sense. The aim is to give the buyer enough information to pique their interest and then make an informed decision based on what you’ve presented them with. They can either commit their bucks or quietly decline. Food for thought though…the more sales you get from people who’ve enjoyed your sampler, might mean it’s more likely that you’ll get a positive review for your book when and if the time comes. Food for thought!
ISBN AND BOOK TITLE LISTINGS
With an ISBN your book will show up in all sorts of listings over time. From various online book title lists to general and rather popular searches like Google Books, before long your book will have a presence and awareness about it. Not to mention, the details can be looked up online at any time. I got an ISBN and Barcode but I was definitely wanting to sell to wholesalers and beyond. With that said, I still benefit from the Google Books listing when you do a Google book title or ISBN search. As mentioned in the ISBN section, that happens automatically through Bowker, once you have an assigned ISBN and your relevant title details have been inserted. The good thing about an ISBN is that people can stumble onto your book details online, without you having to do a thing. Also, automated information displayed in your Google book listing invites and encourages readers to review your book once they have read it.
DO ONLINE REVIEWS HELP SELL BOOKS?
There is some conjecture over whether online reviews are actually credible. Many would argue they are cooked up by the seller and yes, there are times when unfortunately that can be the case. In spite of that, plenty of people still check them out and a percentage ARE genuine. Once your book is listed on Google then you can take advantage of online reviews as mentioned above. Be prepared though and take the good critique with the bad. A sensible thing to do is acquire a small cluster of genuine readers, prepared to support you and read your book front to back, then give you a genuine review…good or bad, or ugly.
Hopefully you don’t end up as road kill on the DIY publishing highway as a result!
Remember, at the end of the day, you won’t please humanity and your book, despite your best efforts, simply just won’t appeal to everyone. But start with friends and associates that you can trust to give you a genuine opinon. With any luck they won’t hang you out to dry, but sometimes a bit of controversy CAN work in your favour. In fact, anything that garners interest in your publication is a start. Unfortunately with Google Book reviews though, you cannot edit what some wise ass might say about your book, once it’s set in cyberstone.
So…make it a best seller!
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