As of late, I’ve been pushing myself to learn everything I need to do in order to succeed at this whole writing gig thing. I’ve been trying to get my fifth book underway but I keep feeling my attention get drawn to the marketing side of writing.
How can this be? The golden rule for writers is to keep writing, so how dare I let my blue sharpie pen and notebook collect dust?
Turns out, my gut guiding me towards marketing has been right.
I bought several more “how to” ebooks and have been slowly tackling them one at a time, letting their wisdom and advice get absorbed into my brain. There’s a ton of information to sift through, and I’ve been taking it all in objectively. As a fantasy writer, not all the advice seamlessly translates to my genre. All the reading I’ve done so far is most useful to nonfiction writers.
Anyway, here’s the latest “how to” Book I’ve read that I’d recommend to any writer who wants to make a career out of his or her books:
Here’s an excerpt from the book as to why I believe you should read this book:
Not only does Tom Corson-Knowles (TCK) go into ample detail on these three steps, the part before this section of the book is a motivator, an attitude adjustment. TCK helps you build an attitude and mindset that’ll steer you towards success, instead of him simply telling you what you should do. I also like how he’s humble about the whole process. He endured his mountain of failures to get where he is today. There is no success without failure.
Marketing Avenues for the Independent Author
Before I get into my list, I want to say a thing or two about my own attitude adjustments. Instead of this meek, shy person I hope people will be nice to, I dress cleanly and present myself like I mean the business I genuinely do: my books. When talking to people I phrase my words carefully. Instead of asking simple yes-or-no questions, I push for action.
Example: DON’T SAY: Is there anyone I can talk to about having your store carry my books? DO SAY: Who can I talk to about having your store carry my books?
I’ve also made business cards with vistaprint.com and I’m working on bookmarks and posters in the inevitability that I have a book signing. I’m working on making that happen.
Last year, I would’ve cowered at the idea of doing a book signing, even though a fellow author advised me to. I’m just a small-name author. Very few people have heard of me. Why on earth would I want to subject myself to such torment? Truth is, “fake it ’till you make it” works in this situation. Do some advertising, show up with a bunch of books, posters, and bookmarks, and no one’s gonna care how unknown you are. You’re an author making yourself available to the public, and if you’re amicable, then all the better. I’m shy by nature, but I’m constantly pushing myself out of my tiny comfort zone.
These places are a blessing for independent authors. A caveat, though: not all of them will work with you. Out of about 12 places I contacted, a whopping three readily agreed to a consignment contract. I called a good 40 numbers, but the book stores had gone out of business, and the numbers were being used by Dish Network or as personal lines. I contacted an elderly lady who told me a bit about her huge collection of books but that she wasn’t selling any of them (haha!). Right now I’m just using Google to find book stores. Not sure if there’s an easier way, but when I do find an obliging store, I like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and mail them my books.
Want to know how to approach book stores? Read this sort article here.
The next step is to schedule book signings and talks. The “how to” books warn you against just doing book signings. Be interactive with your fans! So here goes nothin’!
These places will probably be the easiest for you to get your books circulating in. I ended up donating a copy of mine. Not sure if you’ll have to do the same. I don’t know enough about this. However, the donation earned me a spot in their meet-and-greet, where authors meet with their readers, so it’s a tradeoff. Publicity, publicity, publicity. The library has my business card, so hopefully I’ll soon find out when I get the honor of enjoying such an event.
I’m still in the process of exploring this venue. So far I’ve gone to my local grocery store, called Safeway. The manager was impressed with my books and wants to sell my books, since the store pushes for local business, be it produce or baked goods, etc. Right now I’m playing the waiting game, not only for a call back, but also for my cardboard book displays to come in the mail. I have to provide my own book display in order for them to not get lost in pile that is their book section.
Liking this idea and wondering where to buy your own book displays? There are a bunch of sites but this one best catered to my needs and book dimensions: https://www.bookdisplays.com
This is something I would’ve looked into sooner if I’d stop being sick as of late. As shy as I am, I don’t need to feel self conscious of having a frog voice thanks to a cold while talking to a complete stranger. I will say more on this soon, once I see what happens, but college campuses seem like a decent place to draw in readership.
This is another great place to bring several boxes of books. It gets pricey fast; however, you have a chance of making all your money back that weekend if your cover art draws attention and the interior content clicks with society. I’m looking into getting one of those mobile credit card scanner things and signing up for at least one in Phoenix this year. More on the process of signing up for a table at a convention to come!
So why am I pushing paperbacks in the digital age?
Back near the beginning of this post I mentioned that my “how to” reading is geared more towards nonfiction writers. The final push was when I was SEO hunting for my books, meaning using Google and the Amazon Kindle Store to pick choice words/phrases that help potential readers stumble upon my books. It’s a headache and a half–no, more like a week-long headache >.>
Anway, while trying to figure these buggers out, that little voice in my head whined away, saying how I’ve never used a search engine to figure out what fantasy writer to pick up next. It’s always been word of mouth, be it friend, family, or acquaintance. This SEO crap is a waste of time!
I had to admit that little voice had a point. No much marketing a publishing company can execute, word of mouth is an author’s most powerful ally. So… how can little author me help stimulate such a thing?
Go back to paperbacks and do as the big-name authors do: host book signings, do talks, and interact with the public.
Wish me luck!
p.s. Got another idea I hope to try. Not gonna elaborate for now.