Monday, December 8, 2014

Pushing Sales For Our Books


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.
 
But this season has been terribly difficult for me to juggle all of the tasks bouncing in and out of my head.  My boss has taken three long trips within the last two months, leaving me drowning in overtime.  The waves just keep coming and my arms and legs are growing weary of staying afloat.   

 

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=)
 
Twitter, SheWrites and Google Plus has been a fantastic way to meet new people and establish relationships which I never would have stumbled upon before.  Thanks to social media, I have built a support system which I am grateful for every single day.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of my author friends outside of social media during book signings and fairs.  We’ve even stayed in touch and do things outside of book stuff.   

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?
 
 

32 comments:

  1. I'm glad hiring the PR company worked well for you, Gina. I think you're right about Facebook. I've heard many complaints from other authors about FB ads. I think certain ads do work, though, like Book Bub and Ereader News Today. Book tours can garner valuable attention as well. Word of mouth is probably the best. It's all really a crapshoot.

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    1. I have heard really good things about Book Bub. I am thinking about reaching out to them. I know it's free for them to look over your work and then they will decide whether or not your books fit their criteria. Thanks for the reminder!
      Lol, it sure is a crapshoot.

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  2. My comment got eaten so sorry if you get this twice. For me, the best thing has been my blog and doing a blog tour. I've heard good things about services like Book Bub but haven't used them. I think the key is to just write as many quality books as you can so that you build an audience. But the key is to write quality stuff because no amount of publicity will save a terrible book!

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    1. You are absolutely right! Even though some of us are self-published, if we have the talent, readers will buy our books. We just have to keep producing quality work until one day, it all pays off. Even if that means nine books later like the fabulous author you hosted today on your blog=)

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  3. You've got to promote this post, Gina. It's fabulous. It lays it all out their for us timid authors. You are so spot on! Thanks. I'm taking your advice and studying the PR firms. Thank you!

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    1. Awe, thank you so much Joylene! I'm glad my experiences can help you. Take your time studying them and pick the one that is right for you. And also get reviews from other authors before you use them. You don't want to waste money!

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  4. Hey Gina, Would you min shooting me an email with the info on your pr company?

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  5. I'm working with a PR company now and I kind of wish I'd done it sooner, like when my first book came out. I feel like I'm playing catch up now.

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    1. Better late than ever, Kelly. I hope everything works out:)

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  6. I realized my failings as a self-marketer I decided having a PR firm was worth the investment. It's on the list once I have a date for the novel. You do a lot, Gina. It's tough being an author today.

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    1. Sometimes I feel like I don't do enough. I'm very hard on myself.
      We all need a little boost of our titles being heard of and PR companies really help to spread the word.

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  7. I'm seriously reading through the comments and your post and wondering where I can find a PR firm. Seriously, I'm more than a little sick of promotion :) I love my blog and having fun on social media, but I don't think I was cut out to sell books all the time. Anyhow, definitely thinking that I need to look into this!

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    1. Yes, Meradeth!! You totally should. The PR really helped spread word about my book.

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  8. I might consider a PR firm. Doing it myself is both exhausting and some things I tried simply didn't work.

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  9. You totally should, Medeia. It will be well worth the investment.

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  10. I definitely want to try this PR company when I have extra money. And thanks for telling me about your experience with FB advertising because I was considering doing it to boost my page likes.

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  11. I know lots of authors who do well with school visits. They also do well at book conferences and festivals, so you might try those. I think the only thing I'm happy about with my publishing journey so far is that I haven't spent a penny. Of course, I've made hardly any money in the past year, but at least I'm not in the red. I'm glad you've made the investment in yourself and your publishing journey. You'll never think, "What if...?"

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    1. I've been to one festival but no conferences. An independent bookstore was also telling me how I should try to establish my book within a conference. Now you have me thinking:)

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  12. I think once you establish those relationships with different bookstores, it should become easier. I know a lot of authors send (or take) one free copy to bookstores that have supported them in the past or sent "swag packs." A personal visit never hurts, for sure!!! It just gets tough to make those rounds every time you have a new book out.

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  13. I can't imagine how it will be once my 2nd book comes out. I can hardly handle my 1st! But it's been such a pleasure getting to know new people, especially teachers and independent bookstore owners. Some of them are awfully nice.

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  14. Ok, first, you are NOT lazy. I can tell that just from reading your blogs!!! You work really hard at a lot of things, Gina. I can understand why you might need a break every now and then :)

    You know, for all of the fancy PR firms and marketing dollars and giant businesses, I STILL think word-of-mouth is what sells the most books, for almost any author. Most of the books I read and love are ones a friend told me to read. That's also how I get clients in my day job. Isn't that ironic?

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    1. Awe, thanks Liz! I guess we can't help but to be hard on ourselves sometimes.
      Word of mouth is the best, even outside of this industry which you have proven with your clients. Good job!!

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  15. so interesting! I have found meeting so many wonderful authors via the blogosphere has been the best thing for me because I know I'm not the only one going through things, and the support is amazing. I'm not alone! yay! lol as for marketing, it scares me but I'm not there yet. I'm agented, and my book is currently on sub so I'm working on my next book (easier said than done! lol)

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  16. Well congrats on landing an agent! This is something I have to think about once the edits to my novel are finished. As far as my children's work goes, I think I will pursue a traditional company. Self publishing has been a great experience but it's time for new ventures!

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  17. Gina, you are not lazy at all! I'm glad hiring the PR company has worked out for you. I haven't tried it but I'll keep it in mind for my next novel. I placed a Facebook ad on my page when I just started out and it garnered many likes but as for book sales, not that great. To be fair, I've never bought a book because I saw an ad on FB anyway. And I read somewhere that you'd have to place a new book/ebook (by a relatively unknown author) in front of potential readers about 7 times before they decide if it might be for them. Keep marketing, and writing and publishing. You're doing all right. Really, I reckon you are doing better than most of us, what with the school visits and parenting blogs!

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  18. Thank you, Claudine! As I mentioned before, I am really had on myself. I always feel bad if I take a me-day and lounge around instead of doing book work.
    Like yourself, I have never bought a book on FB simply from seeing it being advertised. But if a fellow author is advertising their work, I am most likely to make the purchase to show support. The advertising helps to generate likes but for sales, not so much.
    I am hoping to really step up my game with school visits. They will always be my number one priority other than writing and establishing relationships with amazing writers such as yourself=)

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  19. I agree with hiring professionals to do the job. I can handle some of the PR, but they have contacts that I don't have and I don't want to spend all my time trying make people notice my books. Great job, Gina. You've made some excellent suggestions.

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    1. Thanks, Lee. I love sharing my own experiences, especially when others can benefit.

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  20. How are you doing, Gina dear. Hope your weekend is wondrous.

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    1. I'm doing well, Sandra. I hope you are having a beautiful weekend!

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