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Marketing Tips

At the same time that inexpensive print technologies make publishing affordable for everyone, readers are able to find any book they want anywhere any time, through Internet search engines.

Because online booksellers have infinite or virtual shelf space, a large number of unique items can be sold in relatively small quantities, including books such as yours. Hundreds of thousands of books are being purchased and read that are not block buster best sellers. This is the the "Long Tail" phenomenon in publishing (see Wired Magazine article by Chris Anderson). Your book will likely be in the "long tail" while the few block busters are in the "short head" of the marketing curve. Google is an example of the long tail, in itself. So are NetFlix and Amazon. More than half of Amazon’s sales come from outside its top selling 130,000 titles.

How does long tail behavior impact us as writers? We’ve still got to make a concerted effort to sell our own books. It’s possible now instead of impossible. It requires patience and persistence.

Here are some suggestions for getting it done.

  • Mail flyers and promotional pieces to everyone you know. Prepare promotional pieces using your cover design as a graphic. An inexpensive, online resource for full color postcards is www.vistaprint.com. (WP will send you cover art or can set it up for you.)
  • Send email announcements when the book is published to everyone you know. (Be sure to put the email addresses in the bcc or blind copy of the email, to protect privacy of addressees, and also offer them the option of removing their names from your list.)
  • Word of mouth (for a small edition) is often very effective. Your first patrons will be family and friends.
  • Prepare a press release and contact local newspapers to get the book reviewed. Also try local TV, and radio stations.
  • Host a signing party for your book.
  • Arrange speaking engagements at book stores, special interest groups, or organizations you belong to.
  • Place your book in local bookstores and other retail shops.
  • Place your book in online outlets such as Amazon. Note that books printed via CreateSpace (print on demand) are listed on Amazon at no extra cost. CreateSpace is an Amazon affiliate.
         If your book is printed elsewhere, as a distributor of the book, you can sign up for Amazon's "Advantage" program. This costs only $30 a year. You have to ship a few of the books to the Amazon warehouse so they are "in stock" and if need be, restock them. But Amazon takes 55% of each sale.
         See: http://advantage.amazon.com/gp/vendor/public/faq for more information. You can also sell books on Amazon Marketplace just as used book dealers do. The markup is much less than when Amazon sells books directly. But first, you must get the book listed via the Advantage program. Only books already in the Amazon catalog can be sold in the Marketplace. (Amazon doesn't tell you about this probably because they want you to sign up for their Pro Merchant program at $40/month.)
  • Sign up with Good Reads and add your book to the bookshelf.
  • Contact local book clubs and arrange to speak about your book.
  • If you have a "niche market," target that market (e.g., a book of poems with environmental emphasis would be pitched to environmental organizations). Use the Internet or phone books to find clubs, groups or forums that focus on the niche interest. Develop an email list of people specifically interested in this topic and email them when you do interviews, have readings or publish a new work.
  • Participate in local book fairs, either as a speaker or vendor, selling your books from a booth.
  • Enter the book in writing competitions.
  • Create a website to promote the book.
  • Blog to market the book. WordPress offers free blogsites.
  • Create a Facebook page for your book and link to everyone you know who has a FB page.

Also of note:

All of your expenses can be tax deductable, since publishing and marketing your book is a business, so save all receipts.



Marketing Resources:

Read the results of a 2006 survey of self-published authors to see what may lie in store for you.

Summary of Wordrunner 2006 Survey of Self-Published Authors

2006 Survey Results in Full

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine)

Tips from Gorham Printing

How to Craft a Strong Press Release (from lulu.com)

The Basics of Press Releases (Writer's Resource Center)

Salon.com article: Self-publishing is the Future and Great for Writers (by Hugh Howey)

Online Marketing for Authors (free tips from bookdaily.com)


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