Between all of the hustle and bustle of this time of year, my mind is like sea foam fumbling for the next wave of thoughts to come. The only time I can concentrate is in the wee hours of the morning when the world is still sleeping and I am at my computer desk typing away.
With that being said, it is Christmas time, and like many of my fellow authors, we have products to move. And I don’t mean placing them on the kitchen countertop and then moving them over to the dining room table. I’m talking about moving them from websites like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com and placing them into the homes of our consumers. Or, if you strike gold, physical stores like Barnes and Noble and the thousands of independent bookstores across the country will stock your book resulting in the banking of sales.
Besides Twitter and my school author visits, I have become lazy. I know! Shocker. But please, bare with me. For the past two years, I have been putting myself out there, traveling to different independent bookstores in hopes they would stock my self-published children’s book. Three bookstores were successful in purchasing my book and then slowly, I dismissed these ventures. I’ve also been networking with teachers and principals so I can either set up school author visits or volunteer to work with kids who need guidance with their reading and writing.
|This is one of my books signings at The Book Garden. My children's book is in the background=)|
So it is extremely important to build a foundation for our work, even if that doesn’t just mean sales. We offer one another advice through our blogs and emails as well as give each other honest reviews for our work. This is very important, especially within this industry and its boundless sea of heartaches, triumphs, and endless hunger to feed our passion.
Now that the relationships are established, how do we make sales? Our fellow authors and family are usually on the front line to buy our books while showing the support we need to survive in this game. But do social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus help boost our sales?
In my experience, not so much. The only means of advertising which has worked for me, so far, have been hiring a PR company to generate reviews for my children’s book , working with various parenting blogs who have thousands and thousands of followers, and my age old favorite, word of mouth.
I was a bit hesitant before I decided to hire a PR company. I had already spent over 3,000 dollars in publishing, illustration and website fees while managing to dump another 300 bucks into Facebook for advertisements which only gave me two sales. Yep, I said it, two sales! So I spent $300 and made enough money to buy two packs of Trident watermelon gum.
By the way, I wouldn't recommend advertising on Facebook to ANYONE. I don't care if you are Oprah and you want to advertise there. I say this because they were charging my credit card while I wasn't using their services. We had a dispute which ended up in them refunding the money but trust me, it's not worth it!
So when the PR company was going to charge me another 200 bucks, the sweat started unfolding from my palms and onto the keyboard where I was about to click on the payment button. Thankfully, I was receiving texts from an author friend of mine who hired the same company and revealed they did a pretty damn good job for her. She even found a better publishing company from someone who reviewed her book and then referred her to someone in the hierarchy of publishing.
Although I didn’t receive thousands of sales from the PR, I was given honest reviews for my children’s book and referrals to various schools, a radio talk show host and various parenting blogs. The feedback was TREMENDOUS. My book was posted on over 40 blogs and I also had three schools reach out to me for author visits.
Having my book posted on parenting sights which attract a huge amount of parents and teachers is detrimental to the existence of my book in the world wide web. Without these parenting blogs, no one would know about my children’s book and I would have never received the sales I achieved through their support of my children’s story.
And then there is word of mouth. This has probably been the bread winner when it has come to selling copies of my children’s book. From family to friends to teachers to bank tellers to Shoprite cashiers to bookstore owners to people who attend my gym… you name them, I have revealed my work to them. And by no means do I bombard people with the fact I am an author. If I tend to see someone more than once and have established a cordial and casual relationship, you are damn skippy I will tell them about my book.
We have to look at this industry not only as a comfort zone and support system but also as a vitality for selling our books. If no one knows about them, how will they ever be sold? And if no one buys them, how will they ever get into the hands, hearts and imaginations of our readers?
We have to keep pushing and throw ourselves out there. If we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for us.
What about you? What has been the best means of selling you books? What about the worst? What do you enjoy most about this industry so far? If you haven’t written a book, will you be self-publishing or going the traditional route?