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.
My recent remarks about learning to use Twitter sparked a terrific response from author Shelton Keys Dunning (https://twitter.com/SheltonKDunning). Thank you, Shelton, for sharing helpful information for writers everywhere:
When my editor told me I needed to do the Twitter thing, I thought, what’s she smoking? I made fun of Twitter, calling those that used it twits. But she introduced me to another platform Tweetdeck (Twitter, only better) and I actually find I like the format better: http://www.tweetdeck.com
There’s also a Tweetdeck app for your smartphone that is set up the same way. You can break up your follows and topics into handy-dandy columns and set up alerts and what not. It’s fairly user friendly, but if you run into any trouble let me know. A good hashtag to follow for writers if you haven’t already come across it is #amwriting
I’m happy to see you in the Tweetsphere. I’ve only been here for a year so I’m not an expert, but it is fun if you know what to look for.
One of our Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe members started the ball rolling on marketing. He used an inside contact to connect me to the head librarian in charge of programming. That conversation led me to volunteer our writers for library programs. The librarian offered to refer news of the release of Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe, An Anthology to her press contact at the local newspaper. Consequently, a reporter from the Lifestyles section called me to schedule an interview.
I invited our publisher Acorn Book Services to attend the interview. This turned out to be a good move for many reasons that I’ll share in a minute. My thought when inviting the publisher was as a thank you for helping us and sharing a bit of the limelight.
During the course of an hour-long interview, I learned that the reporter attended the same seminar at the library where I first collected names to form Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe. That coincidence warmed him to us because he had first hand knowledge of our origins. That piqued his curiosity about how we moved from a start-up organization to a published entity in a relatively short period.
Further, the reporter was on a first-name basis with our publisher. The publisher offered to place an advertisement on the same page as the article in the newspaper. That financial incentive is apt to generate a better place on the page and a longer article than our group would get on its own. The reporter also proposed sending a photographer to the next meeting to snap a some candid photographs of the working group to go with his article. Photos are eye-catching and will draw attention to the article.
Finally, our most organized member and I took the publisher to lunch after the interview to discuss costs for producing print versions of the book. That led to conversation about select members appearing at a writing seminar as members of a panel during a teaching segment. Mr. Organization will not let that opportunity fall through the cracks. He’ll stay on top of it to be sure the writers group seizes every chance to promote our endeavors.
Do you see how that works? Chances are if I cold-called either the library or the reporter directly, the response would have been less successful. But by networking through personal connections and utilizing the special talents within the group, Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe will get free publicity both through the news story and through the local speaking circuit.
Commercial success for writers is like success for politicians. It all starts locally. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the exposure translates to sales!
Without any serious marketing as such, Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe (Hmmmm. Is that singular or plural?) has sold 35 copies of the anthology to date.
And there are two reviews written and posted on Amazon.com. Reading the reviews was exciting. It gave insight and feedback to us on our work.
The sales break down like this:
Amazon.com 34 copies sold
Barnes & Noble 1 copy sold
Several copies have been purchased by the dining patrons of the Desert Rose Cafe. Owner Rose Harris reported there is a lively interest in the book and how the group came to publish it.
Perhaps, in the near future, there will be a “Meet the Writers” event, which may garner a bit of newspaper coverage. That event, or a complimentary newspaper article, may yield a couple of more sales.
What can be done now to sell books?
I have to buckle down and prepare press releases. All of the writers group members need to promote the book on their own social media, blog or web site. This year, I postponed sending out my Christmas letter. I want to write a New Year’s letter and include a promotional blurb in it about the book. Next, I need to put on my thinking cap to figure out other ways to exploit the “local writer” designation.
In sales, they teach you to sell first to family, then to friends or acquaintances, then to neighbors or the local market, then beyond. Until a writer has established himself, the likeliest buyer is someone who knows him or knows of him.
Finally, I need to utilize the “store” component here on WordPress. Obviously, visitors to this site should be able to buy the book.
The lesson in all of this?
Sales don’t magically happen for an author. To sell books, an author has to promote his or her books. That means getting creative so that whatever selling the writer does is effective and affordable.
Writers hate marketing. However, it is a necessary evil, especially for the new author.
Don’t overlook the sales that can be generated by friends or family. Word of mouth is always the best sales tool. A person who reads and likes your book is the most credible advertiser. Ask for help to promote your book.
I would love to hear from other independent authors about the success you’ve had selling your books. Please share the lessons you’ve learned, the mistakes you’ve made or the tactics that have succeeded. In what venue did you sell the majority of your books? Where did things fizzle? What was hard? What worked well?
Talk to me. I am all ears.
A special thanks to the author of aftermathasagabegins.wordpress.com who shares the evolution of the cover of his book from his first concept sketch through influences of other artists to his final design. It’s interesting to follow how the reality evolves from the first idea in the writer’s mind to the final interpretation.
As writers, we create beyond the words on the pages. Finding the right artist to help us translate our story into an encapsulating image is a labor unto itself. I appreciate this little look behind the scenes to prep me for what lies ahead.
Are you on the verge of e-publishing or self-publishing your book? You may want to read the article by using the link above. The more input you get, the better your output will be.
E-reader owners share a common characteristic: as a group, they want a fun, fast read. Consequently, the length of the traditional novel is shrinking for e-books, from the print book standard of 80,000 to 120,000 words to the shorter e-book equivalent of 50,000 to 60,000.
E-reader owners often read on the fly–on the beach, on the plane, in the car, on the train, on vacation. These readers, as a group, prefer books that can be read quickly, in a day or two.
The new author who figures this out has a couple of advantages.
First, traditional print publishers are slow to offer titles in e-format. Print publishers dislike the e-publishing industry and resist aiding its development. Only best sellers in tree books get quickly converted to e-books. New authors who contract themselves to a traditional print publisher may never see their titles in e-format until their contract expires, reducing the writer’s exposure in the marketplace.
In negotiating terms with the traditional print publisher, new writers should retain e-book rights or require the return of the rights to the author if the print publisher doesn’t exercise the option to e-publish the book within a set time frame.
Second, an author can produce more material for sale in the e-book environment. In theory, a writer can produce two 50,000 word books in the same time it takes to create one 100,000 word manuscript. A smart writer will find a way to cut a longer manuscript into two connected stories, and have two stand alone books for sale simultaneously. Readers who like one book are going to buy the other. It doubles the creator’s income.
Finally, readers who own electronic devices also buy short stories. A typical 7,000 word short story can be sold via e-booksellers like Amazon.com.
I hope you have found a few helpful strategies here for your own book business.
A special thanks to William Stadler for sharing his insights on what constitutes a good query letter.
Carrie Rubin does an excellent job answering that question in her post “Contracts, Edits and Errata.” It goes to show how green I am when I confess I didn’t know what an errata is. Carrie explains it and a lot more.
She received an acceptance letter a year ago. It has taken months to go through the editing, re-write and fix process. Now her novel is ready for publication. Next month is the release.
Please visit the link below to learn what happens after the editor says, “Yes, we’d like to publish your manuscript.” Some would say that is when the real work begins.
And, oh yes, congratulations Carrie!