Note: My work with new clients often begins with a conversation on the options they have for publishing, the timetables associated with those choices, and the costs. The majority of my clients choose to self-publish for various reasons, among them that they are unknown, their work is simply for their family and friends, or they don’t want to wait to get their work out into the world. I’m following up a two-part series on traditional publishing versus self-publishing with a series on the topics I counsel authors on as they consider which road to choose. This blog discusses selling books and it is the last in this series.
Selling books. It’s another full-time job, no matter which route you go.
Whether you publish your book in the traditional way or self-publish, you will be in charge of marketing and sales. And your marketing strategy should begin at least a year before your book hits print so that you have time to build audience and interest, and execute your plan.
As the core of your strategy, you should have an online presence. Ideally, you will launch a website and create a profile for yourself on social channels. Do the research to determine which platforms you should be on—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Where will your readers be? Perhaps you should be on all these channels.
The creation of your online presence should happen as soon as you have the idea for a book and begin to execute it, as it takes time to build relationships and create a virtual following.
If you have a traditional publisher, they will get your book into stores and libraries, and they may send a press release and may even schedule a launch party. But you will have to take on many other tasks, including the following:
Scheduling a book launch in your region: Plan some kind of gathering at a bookstore or other venue in your area, and send a press release to local media; include a photo of the book’s front jacket and a photo of yourself. Deliver a copy of the book to anyone in the area who reviews books—including bloggers and podcasters—and enclose a copy of the release. Promote your launch on your website and also on all of your social media channels. Make sure you have someone at the launch who can take photos for you. You can post those afterward on your social media platforms, and you can create an Events section on your website where the photos can be posted as well.
Finding someone to fulfill book orders: If you publish traditionally, your publisher will manage this piece. If you self-publish, you will need to figure out how you are going to manage book orders. Will you sell books on your website and mail books to those who order, or will you pay someone to do that for you? I use Off the Common Books as the printer for my books and those of clients; I have begun to fulfill my own orders, but Off the Common Books will take on that task for a few dollars per order. Off the Common Books also puts my and clients’ books on Amazon, and they will fulfill those orders as well.
Developing a schedule of events: You will need to plan a book tour that takes you as far and wide as you are willing to go. Schedule events in different geographic areas where you live and work, and keep expanding the reach. While I love bookstores, I have chosen not to schedule too many readings at bookstores as they typically take 40 percent of sales, and I simply can’t afford to subtract that from proceeds as self-published authors also pay the per-book print costs. I like to do readings for book groups, groups from organizations like churches or clubs, or at venues like coffee shops, libraries, or even a brewery or winery. Think creatively and seek out organizations that have an audience sure to be interested in your subject matter.
Promoting your events: Each time you host a reading, go to a different region so that you can send a press release to new media and get more interviews and exposure. Also, use the online channels you created to promote your event schedule. Each time, do a post or two beforehand, one during the reading and one afterward. Ask a friend to accompany you and take photos while you are reading and signing books.
I wish you all the best as you develop your book and bring it to market in the way that best suits you! I am happy to help if you’d like to reach out and start a conversation!
I hope you have enjoyed this series!