Marketing Books 101

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The topic of actually selling your books after you’re published came up at Writer’s Group last night and I shared my “vast, unsuccessful” strategies. They are the following:

  1. Be nice… No, really. My Grams used to say (just like yours did) “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” and while I know my readers aren’t flies (because I’ve never met a fly that could read as far as I could tell though that might explain their attraction to the paper I’m reading in the summer), it’s critical to remember that even those that hate you are human beings fighting their own battles that you know nothing of. Give them the grace you crave as another human being. You are your brand- not your publisher, editor, or writer friend… just you!
  2. Use Social Media. I’m still struggling to get this under control and while it was suggested that I pre-write and time things to post as specific times, I’d rather be a bit more real and sporadic. It’s a painful choice between writing and promotion. If I’m writing, I’m not marketing and if I’m marketing, I’m not… well, you know. Balance… ah, I fight for a sense of balance.
  3. Go where your readers are…. If only I knew where to go! Where are all those YA readers? Sometimes, I just need to go somewhere where people are even if they aren’t my people and be very nice to them! So you’ll find me at conventions that aren’t necessarily geared towards my readers, but I’m there, being real and happy and stepping outside my comfort zone.
  4. Be Professional. Treat everyone with respect and use those manners your Grams whacked into you? Your Grams didn’t chase you around the yard with a broom? Your loss! Mine taught me a lot about being respectful! And Thankful! I’m thankful for every reader, for every person who stops by a booth to talk to me, who takes my handouts happily, who friends me on Facebook and leaves thoughtful comments, and who leaves reviews after they read.
  5. Try new things. Experiment and learn. One friend leaves her bookmarks everywhere. I don’t think they’ve resulted in a single sale, but she’s trying! I’ve given writing workshops, given books away for reviews (which rarely happen), and I keep working on perfecting the craft of writing. I’ve paid for Facebook ads which has generated views (and no sales). I’ve entered local and international writing events (and still no sales). I blog and network and teach… no sales. But I have to keep trying to develop that base of readers who hound me for the next book (it’s in the works!).

So you read all this and just now realized that I have no magic answers (or sales)… yep, that’s right. No matter how well you write, there are no shortcuts that I’ve found that result in sales. But as Grams always said, “Get back in this house and finish your chores before I beat you,” or in other words, “I love you. Keep trying! Don’t give up! Finish what you started!”

Paying Dues

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You occasionally see photos of authors at book signings with empty chairs and stacks of books no one is buying and before you publish, you’re a bit arrogant, and think, “That won’t be me. My book will sell itself.” Not true.

Part of garnering attention for it means sitting in an arts and crafts consignment shop on a cold rainy Saturday and waiting for nonexistent customers or going to a book signing at a bus stop that’s quit running. It means selling books to all your friends and family and inviting them to signings so the room is full. It requires marketing, more marketing, and yet more marketing, having faith that one day a small miracle will happen and your book will stand out.

As I explore the wonderful world of not selling books, I’m learning what didn’t work this time failed for a different reason than what didn’t work last time. It’s like collecting rejection slips and writing synopsis before you find a publisher- you’re paying dues.

Am I done trying things or thinking outside the box? Not at all. What I am doing now is looking for places where people gather and asking if I can share that space. I’ve banded together with other writers so there are lots of ideas. I’ve done some things that work but I’m open to suggestions. What works for you- on a shoe string budget?

Viva! Fur Reality!

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We are in the dealer room of the Fur Reality! Con in two weeks. The convention theme of Viva! is loosely based on Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday/remembrance of loved ones and ancestors that have gone ahead of us. As I’m planning our booth and the tie-in freebies, I’m going with solid black, red, and orange cloths for the table and shelving drapes. We used those colors before and they did an excellent job of highlighting our colorful book covers. I’ve ordered a portable metal stand for our backdrop to hang our banners from and I’m planning on using Day of the Dead skeletons across the front of the table.

I found reprintable Day of the Dead cat masks on Pinterest (Go Pinterest!) and think they make the perfect inexpensive tie-in handout. You color, cut, glue, and attach a ribbon and you have a very cute cat skeleton mask. I toyed with having the materials at the table so that you could make the mask right there, but I think it’ll take up too much table real estate so it’ll be something we hand out to passer-byers. I’m hoping it will drive traffic to our booth. With coloring gaining acceptance, I printed out two cute sugar skulls and added a link to my books at the top that I will have printed front and back so you get two coloring pages for the price of one.

One of the other authors is making dragon eggs to offer to people who buy three books. “Buy three books and get a dragon’s egg free.” It should make people smile!

I found the cutest altered My Little Pony and am seriously considering taking one of Noni’s many ponies and painting it black. I’m curious about my painting skills and am not sure that I can do the detail work of one I saw, but I’m going to try it! The worst that can happen is that Noni gets a new Pony from the Thrift Store this week! I’d love to do her large unicorn too, but I know she’d miss that!

I’m also putting together the workshop on “From Fan Fic to Published” in case there’s room on the schedule for it. (If not, I’ll have it done for other cons in the next year.)

Am I missing anything?

Fur Reality! October 9-11 in Cincinnati at the Crowne Plaza Blue Ash. If you’re in the area, stop in and keep me company (and maybe buy a book- any book! Doesn’t have to be one of mine – though I’d be very grateful!)