Let’s start with the assumption that your goal is to sell books to the general public, if not you can skip this entry.
It’s important to understand that there is no one thing that guarantees an avalanche of sales. It is our belief that it takes simultaneous effort in multiple arenas to get traction and ultimately sell your book. This blog covers only one of those areas: visibility.
The first requirement of visibility — DON’T BE SHY. We run into a lot of authors that feel “awkward” about promoting their work. STOP THAT. Be proud of it! If you believe it is good enough to publish, then it sure ought to be good enough for you to hold your head high and proudly support it.
Do you remember the phenomena that was Paris Hilton? She was famous simple BECAUSE SHE WAS FAMOUS. She and her handlers had an incredible ability to get her face in every magazine, TV show, and newspaper. The general public began to assume she was important because of how often they saw her, not because of anything she had actually done.
Try to make your book a higher quality version of Paris Hilton. The more people see your cover, the more they hear your title, the better you will do. Books sell because people THINK they are selling. Does that make sense? Think about it.
SOOOO, how do you make it visible? Try these ideas:
- DO print books. Even if all your profit ends up coming from ebooks, print books are one of THE best forms of advertising. Imagine someone carrying your book around and enjoying it. How many people see your cover and title?
- Get your print books in stores (there will be an entire blog topic on this in the coming weeks, so stay tuned).
- Gift books to people that you think will be advocates. While gifting might seem counter to making money, it represents one of your best marketing tools. What you want is to create a buzz. You want to get people talking. If you gift a book to a person, they read it and love it, and then they go to lunch with a group of friends, and they say, “I just read this great book, you HAVE to check it out”, you have effective grassroots marketing throu.gh visibility.
- Create bookmarks – Get them, spend the effort to MAKE THEM NICE, make sure you put all of your contact and purchase information on them. Then leave them EVERYWHERE. (we have found http://printrunner.com to be the good quality and price but I am sure there are others just as good).
- Business Cards – See comments regarding Bookmarks. (http://VistaPrint.com is great. Fast, and they will do them for free if you allow them to have the back for their advertising, free is good)
- Create promotional flyers – Include an image of your book cover, a picture of you, a blurb about the book, and a short author bio. If you or your spouse works in an office see if they will allow you to make color copies on the weekend or find other creative ways to minimize your costs
- Get a quality print (image) of your full book jacket, front/spine/back (we use http://adoramix.com for this; excellent quality and cheap). Sign it, frame it, and put it up wherever you can. Maybe you have a friend that owns a restaurant that hangs pictures on the wall. Ask if you can put it up there, and also in in your place of work.
Now, these things you have made don’t do any good stacked up in your bedroom. Make yourself a marketing “box” and keep it in your car. Approach every interaction as an opportunity to market, every errand you have to run as an opportunity to place something about you or your book. Examples: waiting rooms at doctors offices, hairdressers, or spas. Anywhere there are chairs and tables with magazines, leave bookmarks on the table, ask them if it would be OK to leave a copy of your print book with the words Lobby Copy written across the front on the table for people to thumb through while they are waiting. That big public bulletin board at the grocery store? Put up your flyer. That store that allows people to leave a sotack of business cards? Leave yours.
Will these things on their own sell books? Probably not. But get back to the original point of this blog: Visibility. It is our belief that people rarely purchase a book from a new author simply the first time they see the cover. However, if they see it while waiting for the doctor, and then see it again on a poster while walking into the grocery store, and then see it again somewhere else, there is a subliminal impact of “wow, I have seen that book/author EVERYWHERE, that book must be popular, that book must be selling, I should get one.”
For those of you that are saying “I am one little person in one little town, how can these things make a difference,” I have three responses:
- If you do nothing, I can do the math on your sales figures for you…
- You have to start somewhere and book sales begat more books sales. If your book is good, and if you are able to sell it to ten people that actually read it, they will each tell ten more people who become potential customers, who will each tell 10 more and so on. Do that math.
- Build a network of friends, family, and other indie authors who are willing to do this same thing for you in their cities. And return that favor by doing what you can for them in yours for their causes/enterprises.
Is this easy? No. Is it possible? Yes. Is it hard? Yes, AND even though it is hard, it is pretty dang fun.
There are so many visibility ideas to try. We will leave some more in the comments section. We hope that you will add yours to the comments also.
Power in Indie teamwork.