| || |
For me the single hardest thing about being an author is not the research, writing, editing, or even publishing (all of those are hard, but for me, enjoyable work), but the business of books is hard. I do a terrible job of tracking expenses and sales. Marketing books is not only hard work, but expensive. Some of this I also really enjoy; talking face to face or communicating with readers electronically is fun.
Scheduling events, advertising them, traveling to them, or promoting books by mass media that doesn’t include personal contact with readers are all somewhat frustrating, very tiring, and very expensive. You never know what to expect. I’ve had events that were scheduled well in advance, advertised in local media and only a handful of people came to them; other times I’ve had forty to a hundred people show up and sold many books. I never know what to expect. I also have had book sellers who never pay me for books I sell in their store. Of course that will only happen once per store, because I won’t go back.
Fortunately for me I live in a very large population metro area, so I can do many events within twenty miles of home, which helps considerably with travel expenses. I continue to hold events in new, more distant places because to me the main purpose of an event is not to make money, but to place as many books in the hands of new readers a possible. Building readership is more important than such book sales. Once somebody likes your book, they will likely read your next one. It’s very nice when you more than cover expenses, but if you pick up six new readers it is worthwhile, even if the event cost more than you make.
I occasionally travel to participate in a seminar, conference, or reunion and if possible I try to schedule an event around that. It gets my book to a new audience in a different state or city and most of the cost was already committed by the event I’m attending. I always hand out as many bookmarks as possible, and have book business cards that I distribute everywhere I go. I think one of the best hand-outs is a promotion item, like a cup, key chain, or pen; because these keep your contact information around for a much longer period of time than a card, or even a bookmark, and they are more likely to be seen by multiple people..
Research shows that positive reader reviews and word of mouth endorsements are the most successful form of marketing books. I’m trying an experiment to see how many of these I can generate on my Facebook pages. In them I say "If you have read any of my books respond to this post with a comment of something you liked about one or more of them, then send me a private message with your mailing address and I will send you one of my stylus ball-point pens. If you also include your e-mail in the message, I will send you a notice when your pen has been sent."
For my fellow authors I will give this promotion a couple of weeks and mention how it all worked out in a future blog.
Mystery writer, Southwestern Historian, researcher, husband, father, grandpa, with an opinion on everything.