Go Find Readers!
When fellow authors have asked me for advice on how to market books, I ask one question: Have you done any events?
The typical response is, yes, book signings either at Barnes & Noble or some local mom and pop shop. Nope, that won’t cut it. The average author can sell and sign about 12 books – if lucky. More often, authors sit and wait as customers walk past. This is especially true for new and unknown authors. When asked how many I sell, it can be 300+ books at a single event. If I sell out, I take orders. Jaw dropping numbers to many, which leads to the question of: How?
For nearly a decade, I’ve traveled the country doing various events: book fairs, local festivals, comic-cons, homeschool events, library workshops, local homeschool groups, public school reading days, and others. Some places I don’t sell any books, but rather do Q&As, teach workshops on writing to aspiring authors, or visit classrooms of kids interested in what it’s like being an author. The visit can be either in-person or via Skype. Not all marketing is to push books.
What I’ve discovered, is people want to know me, first as a person, and then as an author. Giving of myself is the most valuable marketing tool I have.
After years of laying the groundwork, my name and books are known.
I receive more invitations to events than I can attend, and when I do, my books sell in large numbers.
However, there is one downside to this personal aspect that I tell people – the books sold don’t show up on Amazon, thus fewer reviews and stagnant rankings.
An author must choose what is more important: Amazon rankings or selling physical books? Amazon uses algorithms that constantly change rankings with every book that sells. If another book in the same category as my book sells better, well my book will take a dive in the rankings. It fluctuates each hour. Personally, I’m not going to make myself crazy or stress-out about how Amazon works. I can’t compete online with the monster that is Amazon.
All I can do, is effect my little corner of the world with my books.
To survive in this highly competitive world, an author must carve out a niche market. Even those who are traditionally published often find themselves awash in a sea of books. I know, I started out traditional before turning self. When first traditionally published, I did all the marketing, with little help or guidance from my publisher. Between large traditional houses, small indie presses, and self-published, over 1 million books are published annually! Face it, fellow authors, the odds are 1 million to 1 that you will be noticed.
Rather than being discouraged, find ways to bring your books directly to readers. Begin small and local, as larger festivals and fairs can cost upwards of $500 for a 10X10 booth. This is how I started – local city, regional, state, then beyond to other states. Also understand, you’re doing this for the long-haul, not a quick sale. To become a steadily selling author, with more than a single book, think long-term.
Hard work pays off. Today, nothing thrills me more than having a reader personally seek me out to say how much they enjoy my books. Online interaction can’t compare to seeing the joy on a young face when they meet me. After all, they are my audience, my reason for writing. So, go, enjoy the journey of meeting readers.