Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Selling 101 - Introverts: Alert!

As some of you know, I have been a published author since 2009 when my first book, The Ninth Curse, was released. However, I can honestly say I have missed out on almost SEVEN years of promotional opportunities because of my ignorance about what it takes to sell a book.

I am here to enlighten you a bit and, hopefully, give you some ideas on how to promote your book. And it all begins with the problem many of us writers have: Introvert tendencies.

Yes, I am an introvert. Some of my close friends and family may not believe this, because I can be incredibly loud and chatty when I know someone well. Along with my introversion, I also have a terribly self-conscious personality. I don't like a lot of direct attention on myself. I feel like talking about my writing face-to-face with someone comes across as bragging. That is why I thought the internet was such a great thing: there is a distance between me and other people. It is a much more comfortable environment for me.

Well, sadly, these qualities (introversion & self-consciousness) are both terrible ones for an author who wishes to sell books.

I think we all want to believe that if we just pick the right online promotion - a Facebook ad, a blog post that gets a piles of views, a tweet that goes viral, a few more reviews on GoodReads, a blog tour, etc. - that our books will suddenly sell.

I've been waiting for that to happen. Although these online avenues do sometimes pan out for some authors, this has not worked for me.

2016 arrived, and I decided to change up my whole game plan. Go outside my comfort zone. Put myself out there. It all started with handing my book to my hair stylist.

Yes, my hair stylist.

That translated into me talking to my local bookstore and getting my books on a "local author" promotion table, which led to my reaching out to the local newspaper, which led to the library inviting me to do a book signing, which has led to increasing sales and a self-confidence to talk about my books and my author self at a large women's charity group, my church and with scattered acquaintances all over town. I've met more people in the last month than I have in the last 5 years. All positive experiences.

The few books I dropped off at the bookstore have sold, and I've delivered more. A stranger to me saw my article in the newspaper and requested the library order one of my books - she checked it out, and it is also on hold for someone once it comes back.

I now realize that I have to pound the pavement and get out there in order to sell my books and find readers. Now that I've had success with my one local bookstore, I plan on reaching out to a couple of small towns nearby with bookstores and see if they are interested in carrying my books. I am also going to talk to the manager at a supermarket in town that has a local books display.

My book sales are on an upswing (nothing major, but impressive to me) and I'm hopeful some of those sales will lead to word-of-mouth sales or reviews.

And this has all happened in less than 2 months! So, let me boil down what I've learned for you...

Book Selling 101 - Tips for Introverts:

1) Reach out to people you know. Your hairdresser, nail tech, mail delivery person, church friend, etc. Believe it or not, people think it is really cool that you wrote a book. They want to hear about it! Have a business card or bookmark ready to hand to them.

2) Be positive and confident. Don't make excuses for yourself or your books. Talk about your book with a smile on your face. Even if you think it is not a book this person might read, they may buy it for a friend or relative. Your book is awesome! Act like it.

3) Talk to bookstores. Small, local bookstores are interested in featuring local authors. They know it gets people in the door. Be professional. Come with an author bio and be ready to talk about your books and what genre they fit into. Most likely it will be sold on a consignment arrangement, so be prepared to stop by occasionally to see how the book is selling.

4) Call/email local newspapers or magazines. I am lucky enough to live in a pretty small town. Our newspaper features a lot of local events and talent. If you don't have a newspaper like this one, try any number of local events/arts papers that you see in your neck of the woods. They are always looking for content. Contact them and tell them about yourself and your books and that you think their readership might be interested in hearing about you.

5) Visit your library. Libraries sometimes have a local writer table or display. Why not donate your books to your library and meet with the person in charge of the displays?  Ask to do a presentation on writing or your books. Libraries like to have interesting, engaging events for the community.

6) Call the local radio station. This one is next on my list! We have a few local stations that have featured local content at various times throughout the day. Or some radio stations read off events and happenings in town. If you have a reading or signing happening, call them and let them know you want to be added to the calendar.

Those are just a few tips I have. A writer has to come out from behind the computer screen once in awhile and reach out to readers. People love to get to know an author. They think you are interesting! Many wish they had written a book. Project yourself as a successful person, and people will fall in line behind you. Don't be afraid to tout the awesomeness of your accomplishments and the books you've written!

Any other tips that have worked for you when selling a book? Please comment! I'm open to suggestions!!!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Some Good Advice a Marketing Professional Gave Me

This past Monday I met with very nice man who works for a local graphic design firm.  I needed to get some promotional materials together for my upcoming book signing (March 12th at 1 pm for anyone who wants to stop by. Check out my last post for details!). Nothing too fancy. I wanted some decent bookmarks and a one-sheet that attendees could take home with them.

I am okay at design (as I did design two of my book covers), but it takes me a LONG time to accomplish a decent design. And I don't know the trickier aspects of PhotoShop in order to layer images and do other nifty things. So I decided to spend some dough on a professional to design some things for me that I could use for more than just my book signing event.

Thank you to Keokee for taking on the job!

The interesting thing about Keokee is that they are also a small publisher. Mostly non-fiction, local kind of stuff. Not my area. So they are an interesting combo of graphic design, marketing and publishing, which is great to find in a small town.

After I met with my contact, we discussed what I was looking for, my books, etc. And he was kind enough to talk about other promotional ideas and what has worked for some authors. One of those things was a Facebook page.

Now, I have had a Facebook group for quite a few years now. At the time I created it, I don't think Facebook pages for businesses were really that widely used. I invited my Facebook friends to join the group and posted news about my writing there. I had maybe 2 strangers ask to join my group, but no wide outreach beyond my own friends and family.

After finding out the importance of using Facebook to promote my author-y self and explaining how I create such a page, I went home and immediately set up an author page on Facebook.

Check out my Facebook Author Page!

Although I have my blog, which I use mostly for StitchFix reviews and some other reviews, along with writer topics, it doesn't work quite the same as a Facebook page. I have no idea who is reading my blog and no way to reach people who have visited before. A Facebook page gives me more personal connection with readers. I am not just a writer who wears StitchFix outfits while I craft my next story (although my blog may indicate that).

So, if you are interested in learning more about what interests me, where I live, how I entertain myself, what I might be reading or watching on tv, please connect with me on Facebook. I'd love to have you!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Signing Event on March 12, 2016

Well, this is a week of big news for me. First, the lovely newspaper article. Then, yesterday, my local library contacted me about having a book signing in March. I have done a little bit of tutoring there in the last year, so they had my contact info. I was very flattered and excited!

I had considered doing a book signing, but since that was new to me, I got a little scared about how to go about organizing one. East Bonner County Library is taking care of that for me...and is even willing to do a bunch of promotion for me! What a perfect way to dip my feet into the book signing waters and figure it out with the support from my community.

As of right now, I do not have a time for the event. I will update my graphic above when that happens. Also, I think I may have a more professional flyer to post once the library starts their PR campaign. But I whipped this together today to start getting the word out.

If you live anywhere near North Idaho, please consider attending. I will have all 4 of my books available for signing, plus some other little goodies to give away.

Monday, February 1, 2016

I'm In the Newspaper! and 3-star Review Makes Me Happy!

This post is an interesting combo. First, I was lucky enough to have my local newspaper feature me yesterday on the front page of the Sunday paper! The story is not available online, so I have posted a pic of the newspaper to prove that it really happened!

Hey! That's me!
I have a very difficult time promoting myself. I don't like direct attention on myself, so I like to do things from a distance - through the internet, for example. But I realized that I need to get over that problem because in order to sell books, I MUST sell myself. So 2016 is going to be the year of getting over my fears and just going for it.

My next thought (encouraged by friends) is to set up a local book signing. I might even reach out to the next largest paper to see what I can get out of that. Maybe after I garner a few more reviews on Amazon. We'll see.

So there's that big news.

Next is that I discovered another review posted by someone on GoodReads. I believe this person won my book in a GoodReads Giveaway. I was very happy to have her rate and review my book...even though she only gave me 3 stars and discussed what she did not like about my book in her review.

Yes, you heard that right, I am HAPPY for a middling review with complaints and criticisms. Why is that, you wonder? Well, first let me post a couple of quotes from her review (if you want to read the whole thing, click on this link).

"While the characters and dialogue fell a bit flat for me, the story kept me going."

Hard to read that my characters and dialogue did not resonate, but, hey, that's how she felt. The nice part was, even with the criticism, she still kept reading. She actually did say some other nice things about the book, but this quote was my favorite:

"Overall it wasn’t a bad read, just not my cup of tea. I have recommended it to my mother and a few others who expressed interest after I told them what it was about."

And that, my friends, was a winner of a review. She recommended my book to OTHERS, even though she admitted it was not "her cup of tea" (also a quote from her review).

Her 3 stars were a fair 3 stars. I want honesty, people. Not high fives. I understand that my book may have flaws and might not be for everyone. And that's fine. The more honest reviews I receive, the better it is for me. Thank you to Colleen for telling it like it is...from her point of view.

UPDATE 2/2/16 - My local paper added the newspaper article to their online version late yesterday. However, only the first few paragraphs are available to read. Better than nothing! Click here to read the partial article.