Tag Archives: making money by selling your book

Guest Post from Bob O’Connor


Better late than never.

Bob O’Connor gave me a guest post months ago, before my shoulder surgery.  I was a bit self-absorbed with shoulder surgery, getting a divorce, and a few other things that made me a little less than sane–like finishing the novel.

Poor Bob. He didn’t know all that stuff. He just knew his blog post didn’t appear. At last, here it is! And isn’t it funny how timely the message is!

The From Writer to Published Author Conference is coming up. My book is to be released in several weeks. Maybe fate had a hand in the scheduling.

I can say this–good things come to those that wait. Thanks, Bob, for providing one of the good things!

Bob Oconnorauthorphoto

http://www.boboconnorbooks.com/

Being Your Own Publicist

By Bob O’Connor

You are a published author. Congratulations.  Now you can sit back and bank your royalty checks.  WRONG!

Now it is time to shift gears and start promoting you and your book. Here’s what you need to do. It’s a three-step process.  It’s relatively easy, but it takes WORK.

  1. Print some business cards with the cover of your book on it. Think about all those people you talk to who are not ready to buy your book at that instance.  How do they find you when they are ready to make the purchase?  If nothing else, you need a business card.
  2. Set up a website.  The business card should send them to a website where they can purchase your book.  Look at mine at www.boboconnorbooks.com for suggestions.
  3. Do at least one thing every single day to promote your book.

That’s all you need for success. Any questions?

OK, perhaps I should elaborate.  I published my first book in late January 2006.  It is called “The Perfect Steel Trap Harpers Ferry 1859” and is a historical novel about the John Brown raid.  Using steps one, two and three above, and lots of old fashioned WORK, I sold have sold over 3,000 of those books since 2006.

As of February 2012, I have written 7 books and sold over 7,000. Most I sold myself. The sales did not come from Amazon or any other place.

How does an old guy (I’m 66) who still works for a living (don’t quit your day job) and writes in the evenings and on weekends, sell so many books?  The secret, now that I have a business card (for each book) and a website, is item #3.

Would you like some examples?  Wherever I am traveling to on any particular day for a book signing, I check on the internet and find every library, historical society and book store en route, going one way and coming back another way.  And I stop at every single one. 

I had a meeting in Washington, DC on a recent Thursday night.  On the way I stopped at book stores in Sterling, VA, Fairfax, VA, Woodbridge, VA, several in DC, and ones in Gaithersburg, MD and Kensington, MD.  At the book stores I introduce myself, check to see if they have my books, signed copies if they are already in stock, convince them they need to stock all my books if they don’t have them already and offer to do a book signing for them. 

That particular day, several stores ordered my book on-line while I was standing there.  One asked me for dates I had available and booked a signing right then.

Another day I was attending a book signing in Gettysburg at 5:00 pm.  I left the house at 8:00 am, stopped at book stores in Hagerstown, MD, a public library in Chambersburg, PA, Mont Alto campus of Penn State University, another public library, and Gettysburg College.  At the schools and public libraries I was offering to give presentations, which I do for free, because they allow me to sell books.

On another night I had a ten minute interview on a local access cable TV channel.  On the way I stopped at two book stores and two public libraries.

On other days I search the internet for Civil War Round Tables, book festivals, radio stations who specialize in interviewing authors, and any other opportunity to sell books.  I check for Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions clubs, and other opportunities to speak to seniors and retired military groups.  Many small towns have book clubs that are open to local authors.  Use your imagination.  E-mail them and offer to do a program.  Keep the offers flowing on a regular basis. 

I also look for non-traditional places to sell books.  One of my most successful endeavors has been to hook up with Weis Markets, a grocery store chain.  I do book signings in their regional stores on Friday nights with great success.  They print fliers and put up posters in the stores.  They surround me with samples of food from their party trays.  Shoppers who are grabbing the free food get to hear me talk about my books.  In one store, I sold 34 books in three hours. Grocery stores often sell books, but have a much smaller inventory than your major book stores.  And the grocery stores also get good community reaction because they are supporting local authors.

In book stores, I use a pop-up display with my picture, the covers of both books, a sentence about each book, and in large letters –“Book Signing Today.”  Many times in book stores, people have no idea I am an author or why I am sitting there. The pop-up sign has increased my exposure dramatically. 

It is pitiful the signage that authors have even at major book festivals I attend.  You would be surprised how professional a small sign from Staples print center looks and how inexpensive it can cost.

One author at the Philadelphia Book Festival was wearing a sandwich board to call attention to his new book.  Be creative – he certainly was.

I ALWAYS send a press release to the local newspaper before any appearance. I send a listing to their calendar of events too.  And it is not a generic press release.  I tell the newspaper readers how their readership is tied into the story of the book.  It helps that my story is historical fiction and includes only characters that are real and were really part of the actual event.  And that my appearances for my first book were only in the area within about 100 miles each direction of Harpers Ferry.

And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have books with you at all times. One day in the summer several years ago I stopped in Hagerstown, MD at the visitors center to see if they had books I hadn’t signed.  The lady behind the desk was in a panic.  She said two busloads of people were out in the parking lot waiting for a mechanic to fix one of their two buses.  She asked me to entertain them. 

I stood on the curb and talked to 90 people who were on a Robert E. Lee tour of the area.  What a coincidence — Robert E. Lee happens to be the man in charge of the capture of John Brown, the main character in my one book!  I held up my book and talked for about ten minutes, and then sent them into the visitors center to purchase the book. The lady there sold out of her 15 copies in minutes. But others wanted to purchase the book and have it signed too.  Not to worry.  I ran to my car, drove to where they were already waiting in line, parked and opened my trunk.  I sat on the rear bumper, signing books.  I sold another 21 books, throwing the money in the trunk because they were coming at me so fast.  It helped that I am a former Boy Scout who believes in the motto “Be Prepared”.

I have met authors who sell a couple of books each year.  When I ask them what they are doing to promote their book, they kind of hang their head and admit they haven’t been “real busy” lately.  As you can see, I have been “real busy”!  I am startled to find out that many authors I meet don’t even have a simple business card that you can print with any computer in ten minutes with a box of business card paper from your local business supply store.

I admit, I did 108 appearances in 2011 (check my website for suggestions, there’s a calendar of my appearances from 2006-2011 on my book signing page).  The average number of appearances I would say other authors I have met this past year have made to promote their book is about five a year (and there are certainly some exceptions).

I don’t tell you that to brag or to try to be better than you.  I tell you that because if I can do that, you can do that. You can do that if, by chance, you want to sell books!

In June every year, I go to Illinois to attend Heritage Days in Danville, IL where the character of my second book lived.  I drive and have appearances and book signings going and coming home.

Last year I was scheduled for book signings in public libraries, book stores, and even a senior citizens facility. I was gone 12 days to Danville, and did 11 appearances.  I checked with clubs and organization in the cities I would be in to find out which ones have meetings on the day I would be there.  I called book stores and Chamber of Commerce and libraries.  Most were thrilled that they are getting a free program.  Several paid my overnight accommodations in their city.

I look for magazines and newspapers and write articles that their particular readership might like that relate to the subjects of my books.  A recent article in Battlefield Journal (a publication for Civil War enthusiasts) was about the main character in “The Virginian Who Might Have Saved Lincoln.” An article I wrote about the seven men who escaped the John Brown raid appeared in the Appalachian Trail Magazine, because their escape route followed what today is the Appalachian Trail. I look for publications that would be interested in my particular books.  Obviously publications like Field and Stream and Science Digest are not within my target market, so I will not be contacting them.  But those publications certainly might be within the target readership of your books.

I also use Google search with key words such as “John Brown” to find out when events are taking place I can connect to. A recent play called “Robert E. Lee and John Brown” was playing at the Wayside Theater in Virginia. I contacted them and got four book signings and an opportunity to go on stage after each presentation to talk about John Brown with their “John Brown” actor.

An author friend wondered out loud the other day what her publicist had done for her lately.  One thing he had done was to get her an interview on a radio station in the Midwest.  I asked her the call letters of the radio station where she was going to be interviewed, and contacted the radio station myself.  (A simple “google” function on the internet gave me the station contact information.) I now have an interview scheduled with the same radio station I set up myself. 

I don’t have to ask, because I know what MY publicist did for me today!  That’s because I am my publicist.

Even writing this article, I am promoting my books to persons who might not otherwise know about them and sending those authors to my website for more information.

Am I getting paid to write this?  No.  I don’t usually get paid for my articles.  But they let people know about my books and the articles all list my website where there is information on how to purchase my books.

Where I live people are amazed that I get so much publicity. I teach a Publishing Class at the local Adult Ed Program. I sent the newspaper a press release that I was teaching the class. When the article appeared, other instructors wondered why the Adult Ed people only promoted my class. They didn’t promote my class. I did.

I get publicity because I work at it. You can do it too, but it takes effort. You have to decide if you are “real busy” doing other things or “real busy” seriously promoting your book.

So I have to ask you — when are you going to start seriously selling your book?  Do you have a business card?  A website? Look at mine at http://www.boboconnorbooks.com. What did you do TODAY to promote your book?  Got questions? E-mail me at author@boboconnorbooks.com .

Happy book selling.

Advertisements

Guest Post from Cindy McDonald of The Unbridled Series


Uber thanks to Cindy for sharing with us on a topic I know absolutely nothing about, but which is getting more and more important for authors. It’s all about exposure. (Cue face blushing.) Um, let me rephrase. It’s all about putting it out there. (Cue redder face blushing.) Big gulp. It’s about creating a video trailer to promote your book via YouTube and other video sites. Take it away, Cindy:

Have you taken a look at the book trailers on YouTube? Some are really cool, terrific graphics, very exciting. And some are well…not so cool. Book trailers are the latest tool for authors to use to put their books in front of potential audiences. Great! Another way to advertise my book—Lord knows drawing readers in is a major obstacle for authors, and a book trailer may just be the boost that my novel or series needs, right?

Whoa! Slow down cowboy, because I’ve got a tale to tell, and it ain’t pretty. My first book DEADLY.COM was getting ready to release last September, and I just couldn’t wait. I knew exactly how to get the proper attention for my new series—a book trailer! Hey, if Spielberg can do it, so can I.

The trap was set. Me—the idiot—was going to set out to film a book trailer. So, I rented a fellowship hall at a church, and then I placed this ad on Craig’s List for an actor:

Audition on June 22 for an actor: Dark-haired ruggedly good-looking between the ages of 25-30 to film a book trailer. Will provide food, and a DVD as payment. Please send resume and a head shot with response. Will provide time and location for audition, if qualified.

Wow! I got quite a few responses—who knew there were so many good-looking men out there willing to work for food and a DVD? Impressed? Don’t be.  Only three of the twelve actors that qualified for the part actually showed up, and let’s just say that pictures can be VERY deceiving!

The first actor that showed up right on time for the audition did indeed have dark hair. He was more photogenic than he was good-looking, but that wasn’t the biggest problem. He couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, and he weighed about one-ten. He was a pip-squeak, and his acting skills were….to be kind…not very good.

The second actor that walked through the door did not fit the bill at all. In fact, he had sent in a bogus head shot just to get an audition! The man must have been sixty-five, although he claimed to be forty-two. When I explained to him that he was simply too old, and too grey, and too wrinkled, he said, “I’m an actor, honey. I can act younger.” Seriously, buddy? Needless to say, he was asked to leave…quickly.

Ahhh, but the third actor that came through the door was just right. He was tall, dark, and very ruggedly handsome, and his acting was much better than the first. Good thing, because they were the only three to show up for the audition.

Okay, cut me a break, Spielberg probably gets a much better turn-out when he holds auditions, but this wasn’t a shot at fame and fortune—it was food and a DVD. Anyway, this was working! So, I rounded up a film crew, rented camera equipment, and went to a nearby stable that had white fencing for as far as the eye could see to ask permission to film. They were thrilled to let me film. I own a horse farm, but my fencing is black, and in my book series, Westwood Thoroughbred Farm has white fencing—details, have to stick with the details.

Viola! I was ready, and on a sunny, hot day last July I met my camera crew and the handsome actor at the farm to film the trailer. I had a blast! I was doing something that I had never done before. As a professional dancer and choreographer for twenty-six years, I had worked many stage productions, but this was an entirely different ball game—or should I say “project”. It took a mere two hours to film the short trailer, and within two weeks the trailer was on YouTube. God, did it stink! It was awful! At my publishing manager’s request, I removed it from cyber space.

Okay, now I’ve written two more books of The Unbridled Series, HOT COCO and Dangerous Deception, and I really, really, want one of those cool book trailers, but what’s an author to do? Those baby’s are expensive. But then out of the blue the break that I’d been waiting for happened: One of my FB friends who is also an author posted a link to a website where you can make banners and trailers. I was on it within moments, www.bannersnack.com. My daughter and I made a trailer for Dangerous Deception,HOT COCO, and then one for my first book of the series, DEADLY.COM—they turned out great! Hey, they were cool! But they didn’t have any background music—bummer. So my daughter started playing around with the Windows media file right on my lap top—she made two fabulous trailers right there on the lap top with terrific music for the background. It was easy, it was free, and I was so much happier with result. We uploaded them onto YouTube.  Who knew? Oh well, lessons learned.

Am I getting the exposure that I so desired when I filmed that disastrous trailer? Well…no, but I’ve got two book trailers that I’m very happy with, and my daughter and I had an absolute blast creating them.

You can view my trailers on the “books” tab on my website: http://www.cindymcwriter.com/

We’re not done yet. My next book from The Unbridled Series, AGAINST THE ROPES,  is set to release in June, my daughter and I will be creating a trailer for the new book very soon, and you will be able to find it on the “coming soon” tab on my website—an excerpt from the book is already there for you to read.

If you’ve been thinking about a trailer for your upcoming book or one that you’ve already published, I hope that I’ve given you the tools to create one. And if you do, have a great time!

A Discussion of the 99 Cents Price Point for e-Books


Newly published e-book authors as a general rule price their first books on Amazon.com or other booksellers at $.99. Why?

Melissa Foster shares her thoughts in a recently published Huffington Post article. I have excerpted parts here. To read the whole article, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/20/ebooks-cheap-price_n_1160383.html?ref=books#comments

Independent authors are rallying around the controversial 99-cent price point. Some authors feel the 99-cent price point devalues their hard work, while others feel that readers will not take a chance on new authors at a higher price point.


Readers are scooping up ebooks for 99 cents, that alone speaks of a demand for material at that price point.


Let’s look at the dollars and cents of the 99-cent price point for independent authors. If an author is self-published through Amazon KDP, he or she earns 34 cents per 99-cent book sold. Not only do authors put time and energy into their writing, there are other associated costs to publishing a quality book, including cover artists ($125-3000), editors ($800-5000), marketing, etc. If you add up the average cover cost of $350, average editing job of $1400, then divide by 34 cents, the author would have to sell 5,134 books just to break even.


A self-published author that sells 100,000 ebooks at 99 cents, earns an annual salary of $34,000.  However, the average new author, after spending a year writing the book, will sell less than 100 copies. That’s $34, tops, in exchange for a year of the writer’s life.

If that same author is published through a small press and sells 100,000 copies, that author earns $12,000. To earn $40,000 per year, that author would have to sell 333,333 books per year. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are only 30 authors who have sold over 100,000 copies of their books, and only a dozen who have sold over 200,000.


Why, then, do authors post their books at such a low price?

Darcie Chan, bestselling author of The Mill River Recluse, states, “Since I had never published anything before and was completely unknown as a writer, I thought the 99-cent price point would be best to encourage readers to give my novel a chance. It’s true that the royalty rate at that price point is much lower, but I saw foregoing some royalty income as a tradeoff. I decided that the 99-cent price would be an investment in my future writing endeavors and would give me the best chance at meeting my goals of gradually building a readership and getting some feedback on my work.”


Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of three International bestselling novels, Megan’s Way, Chasing Amanda, and Come Back to Me.

Three Books in Twelve Months


My publisher Lauren Carr is also an author. In the past six months, she has released two books. Her birthday is coming up. Do you know what she is doing to celebrate? She is spending the day writing on her next novel. My bet is, that by summer, she releases another book. That means she will have written three books within a year.

Several successful authors are prolific–meaning they write more than the traditional one book per year. If the authors are managed by a traditional publishing house, they have to use pen names to put out the extra works.

The luxury of self-publishing or independent publishing is no one restricts your output under your own name except you.

Remember, the statistics say that momentum in book sales doesn’t kick in until the author has three to five titles published.

Do you want to wait three to five years to get that momentum going? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to speed that process along by writing and releasing more than one book per year.

Of course, I am not one to talk, given I have plodded along on my first novel for two years. I hope that my history of writing at a snail’s pace is about to change.