What do you see when you look at your book sales ledger? When you review those figures, do you feel like celebrating or do you want to cry? If the latter fits your situation, maybe itâ€™s time for a change in tactics. You know the conceptâ€”if it ainâ€™t broke, donâ€™t fix it; but if it isnâ€™t working, itâ€™s time for a change.
Following are some common book promotion failures and potential remedies:
1: Your book didnâ€™t win any of the contests you entered in 2007 and youâ€™re discouraged.
This year, forget about contests. That sticker on your book that says, â€œ5th place pick at the Timbuktu Literary Arts Societyâ€ probably wonâ€™t draw many customers, anyway. Instead, promote your book as a premium item. Banks, mortgage companies and other large corporations sometimes purchase books to give as customer gifts or as incentives for their employees. Sometimes companies will purchase thousands of copies of a book to use as an in-house training tool or a give-away at a conference or convention. Generally, they want discounts for bulk orders.
What type of books might qualify? Novels or historicals related to local or regional history; personal finance or marketing books; self-help or how to books on a variety of topicsâ€”employee relationships, for example or even a fairy tale with a meaningful message. Scrutinize your book from various points of view and see if you can determine a slant you can pitch to companies and corporations in your area.
Here in Ojai, the realty board keeps copies of my local history book on hand for new realtors coming into the valley. Various local businesses purchase it occasionally as employee gifts. Iâ€™d probably get more such sales if Iâ€™d promote it in this way. The key is, donâ€™t wait for these prime customers to find youâ€”get out there and solicit sales.
2: Your book was reviewed at a few book review sites, but you didnâ€™t notice much return from this effort.
This year seek reviews at topic/genre-related sites and appropriate publications. For your fantasy, thriller, science fiction book, solicit sites that focus on these genres. This is where youâ€™ll find your readers. Contact editors of appropriate magazines and newsletters and ask for a review or offer to submit a short story. For a book on parenting, contact some of the many parenting sites and publications related to this subject. You see, here is where you will find your readers.
3: You did a book signing and no one showed up.
Yeah, thatâ€™s typical, unless your name is recognizable OR unless you actually invite people to come. In my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book, I devote 6 pages to how to have a successful signing. http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html Read a condensed version at http://www.matilijapress.com/articles/booksigningtips.htm
4: Your newspaper press releases were ignored.
Maybe thatâ€™s because you neglected to make the right connection. This year, consider tying your book to a theme or a season or an event. Send press releases about your relationship book or your romance novel for publication around Valentineâ€™s Day. Pitch your historical novel during appropriate historical events. My book on how to present a Hawaiian luau on the mainland is popular around Fathersâ€™ Day. And the one I wrote on long-distance grandparenting always gets press in honor of Grandparentsâ€™ Day in September.
Make news. Start a volunteer organization related to an aspect of your book. Maybe your novel reflects the life of a homeless family. Get friends to help you make sandwiches every Sunday and hand them out to the homeless in the park. I know a young woman who got national press doing exactly this, only she didnâ€™t have a book to promote. If your book features the new wave of businesswomen on motorcycles, establish a charity ride and be sure to tell the press about it. Perhaps yourâ€™s is a childrenâ€™s book. There are oh, so many children-related charities that you could become involved inâ€”corral a group of teens to read to homeless children, collect books for group homes and children in foster care. Then be sure to tell the press about it.
If youâ€™re unhappy with your 2007 book sales, donâ€™t give up. Use your imagination to come up with new ways to promote your book this year. The key is to put yourself in your target customerâ€™s head. What sites do they visit? What publications do they read? What newspaper stories pique their interest? What are they passionate about? Where do they purchase their books? Gather this information, compile it, study it and then go out and introduce your book to them through the avenues most likely to reach them.