One thing writers love doing is write stories. Stories that are beautiful, stories that are heart-wrenching or laugh-out-loud, stories that are about love, or courage, or defeating personal demons, or reaching a life-long goal. Whatever it is, the writing is done with one purpose, and one purpose only – and that is to have it published and reach millions and billions, and if feasible, trillions of readers world-wide. That sounds like the stuff of dreams – the trillion part.
Here is what you as a reader may not know entirely, but suspect regardless: writers imagine, much to their shame, that the stories they chisel at for months and in some cases years, get picked up by an established publishing house and distributed to the millions, billions or trillion audience/readers world-wide.
Now, there is nothing wrong with that ‘grand’ vision of books selling out of shelves, flying as they would if we were in Harry Potter world. There is however, one tinny-tiny flaw in that plan. The part that really should be telling you that books don’t sell themselves. I know, I know, you’re probably saying, ‘Hang on, Harry Potter pretty much sells itself’ as your defensive argument. Fail. You fail as a defence attorney on this one. Harry Potter sells itself now, but when it first started, I’m sure J.K. Rowling had to tackle many strategies with Bloomsbury to get the first of Harry Potters on their magic brooms and out the bookstore.
UNFORTUNATELY folks, that world isn’t real. I’m sorry. If it were, I wouldn’t be writing this but watching my books sprout wings and fly out. Hmm…
Back to the point. Books, in all honesty don’t sell themselves. It’s the person that does the selling, the one who convinces potential readers (aka. you) to part with their mullahs and walk home with a book they may or may not read. You, as a writer, will never know.
SO, how do you sell your book?
Below are some things you will need if you are to sell your book.
As a writer, you will fit either 1, 2, or 3 category:
1) A ton of money so you can pay for your own editing, formatting, printing, and advertising. In which case, go forth and do it!
2) Really attract the attention of a publisher/agent who will do the leg work for you and you simply reap partial rewards.
(Many of you will fit the next category I suspect)
3) You must get over that small thing called shyness and do your own marketing, and publishing. But how do you market a book on a shoe string budget?
Well, take it from me, since I fit this category. It is not the easiest thing to do. The writing was easy compared to what awaits you after you release your book.
Confession #1: Your book will just sit there and look pretty if you do not beat that drum of yours and announce its existence. Tell the world what awaits them.
Be SAVVY how you go about this. Don’t simply let your family and friends know that you’ve published a book (finally) regardless of format (print or eBook).They can’t be the only audience you target!
Confession #2: Not all of your family and friends will buy your book in all honesty. Why should they simply because they know you?! You need to treat them the same way you would treat any other potential buyer, with respect. Don’t force them to buy it. That is SHABBY! NOT COOL.
Here are 10 of the most simple ways you can start marketing and promoting your own book, one small step at a time. Take your writerly hat off, and put on your sales hat:
1) You could let your social network or blogging community know about your recent publication. You never know who may be reading them.
2) Contact your local newspapers and tell them what you have achieved and kindly ask if they would like to write a piece on you. (You will be surprised how often they say yes, and the reach of these medium is so much more than you can do alone.)
3) Hand out flyers or sample chapters to the public for free. Every body loves free stuff. And hey, if your writing is really made of metal and enjoyable, your work will sell itself. The public will go out and buy your whole work.
4) Contact your local radio station(s) if you can with the same respectful approach. You may never know when they invite you in for an interview.
5) Visit book forums and plug your work, or approach book reviewers. There are plenty online at the moment. Request a review. You’ll find that most times reviews really push up your sales. Remember, any publicity is GOOD publicity – but do try to avoid the bad route. Approach only forums and reviewers who are honest and respectful.
6) This is probably the most obvious one. Make sure your book is in the correct industrial format, and that it has been edited to the best it can be.
7) Choose your TITLE wisely. I can’t stress this point enough. Your first point of impact for potential readers is the title of your work. It has to be attention grabbing or memorable. An example of a great title at work is ‘Ps. I love you’. What Celia Ahern has done here is given her work a unique title that is thought provoking and gives a hint to what the story might be without revealing anything at all. These kind of titles are hard to do, but when you have a perfect title, it is wondrous how well they work.
8) Have a great ‘blurb’ written for the book that succinctly entices the reader without bordering on clichéd.
9) Cover page – make sure it is clear, concise and relates to your story. You do not want a confused looking cover page that makes people put down the book in bewilderment.
and last but not least
10) Make sure you have spent as much time as necessary to fulfil 6, 7, 8, and 9. These, before anything else are what will sell your work. If these are sub-standard, then your work may be devalued unnecessarily.
Be savvy how you approach your marketing and have strategies in place. This way, you will look professional and confident. Two things that are sometimes the biggest motivator of sales. But most of all, do your homework. No one else will do them for you unfortunately. And there is always a sense of pride and joy when you are out there talking and promoting your work amongst the public.
Good luck with all your ventures. And if there are any other tips and tricks you’ve learnt on your own journey, share them with others and myself here. I’d love to know. Happy marketing!