Today I’m going to address grass roots publicity because, a) several of you have asked me about this, and b) unless you’re independently wealthy and a gambler I do not recommend hiring a publicist.
In the spirit of transparency–which is the spirit in which I started this blog–I am going to tell you that since March of 2009, when my book, Receive Me Falling, became available for purchase, I’ve sold about 1,000 books. (That number includes Kindle sales.) There’s a part of me that is very happy with that number, and a part of me that feels like it’s puny based on the time and money I’ve spent to publicize it. But seeing as the average sales for self-published books come in at less than 200, and to be considered a “best-seller on Lulu” you have to sell more than 500 copies,* I’m doing pretty well.
Here is a list of what I’ve done to promote and sell my book. This list is not just for the self-published authors out there–traditionally published authors also have to hit the pavement in order to sell books, especially if they are first time authors. Selling your book takes passion, drive, and serious hard work. (Check out my appearances schedule to see what I’m doing at any given time to see what I mean.)
Please feel free to add any publicity tips you have to the comment section. I can use them!
1) Social Media (Facebook, Twitter…) I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s essential. Stop fighting it.
2) Blogging Blogging helps you build an audience, gives agents something to Google when they are trying to find out about you, and keeps you writing. Do it! Just a note, though; be very, very focused. Don’t use your blog to purge any old thing you’re thinking about. If you are trying to showcase your writing, stick to that. Make a separate blog if you want to talk about what your kids ate for dinner, or your favorite quilting patterns–unless that’s what you write about.
3) Local Media Contact your local media including newspapers, family magazines, radio, and television stations. The media beast needs to be fed, why not give it your book?
4) Book Clubs I’ve read differing opinions about whether or not writers should seek out book clubs to read their books. I’m all for it. Personal connections are what you need to start a buzz. With fiction, word-of-mouth recommendations are what sell books. When you meet with book clubs, you give people a face and a person to connect to a book, and that gets people to tell others about it. It also gives readers a chance to dig deeper into your story and find out things like why you chose the names you did, how you came up with the plot, the layers of symbolism, etc. It makes for great discussion. (If you don’t know any book clubs personally, start with MeetUp.com.)
5) Fairs, Festivals, and Signings Find as many venues for bookselling as you can. Be creative! I’ve sold my book in chain bookstores, independent bookstores, wine festivals, art festivals, book festivals, and even community yard sales. Don’t be a snob–get that book into as many hands as possible.
6) Book Reviews It’s very difficult for a self-published author to get print reviews, but the book blogger culture is thriving. Contact as many book bloggers as you can about reviewing your book. I just heard about TLC Book Tours. For $500 you can set up a pretty extensive online book tour. (Check out some of my reviews here.) Also, ask anyone who reads your book to consider adding a review to Amazon for you.
7) Mass Media Outlets (Bostick Communications) For $175 you can send out a press release to thousands and thousands of literary reviewers.
I hope you found this list helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email. Now get out there, and sell those books!
*Statistics courtesy of www.howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.com .