In an effort to pay it forward to my fellow writers, here are the six things I learned in the month since One Night was released.
1. Tell everyone you know about the book, no matter how self-serving it may seem. Another way to say this is use your network. Telling everyone you know will definitely lead to a spike in sales and could connect you with some key players in the publishing industry. When I told one of my colleagues about my book he connected me with one of his best friends who happens to be the executive editor of a major review publication and an author. I have no idea if knowing him will help me sell books, but it’s good to know him regardless. The more people you have to bounce ideas off of, the better.
2. Be persistent and creative when it comes to setting up events. When I started trying to plan events before my book was released I was met with more opposition than I expected. Silly me, I thought it would be easy to book an event at a library. Despite some setbacks, I continued reaching out to other organizations: writing groups, independent bookstores, rotary clubs, high schools. Not everyone responds favorably, but when they do it definitely brightens my day. When they offer to pay you it’s even better.
3. Your first book signing will be brutal, even if you set realistic expectations. I told my husband if I could sell one book to a person who didn’t know me I’d consider that a success. I beat my goal by several copies, but still. Those first twenty minutes when no one was coming into the store really sank my spirits for a bit.
4. Try everything when it comes to marketing, within budget of course, and if it works do more of it. That’s really all there is to it. I’ve found that a promotion is only worth my time if it results in sales, reviews, email signups, or significant traffic to my web site. Significant for me is defined as 30-50% more page views and visitors than I get on an average day.
5. If you are mailing copies of your book within the United States tell the post office worker you want to send it via media mail. This is oftentimes half the price of regular postage, sometimes even less. I discovered this on accident when the lady at the post office asked if I had a book in the package I was mailing to a giveaway winner.
6. When you’re doing everything yourself, the wins are that much sweeter. When you get your first five-star review or an email from a reader who doesn’t know you you’ll be reminded of why you decided to do this in the first place. When someone who bought your book online comes to your book signing just to have you sign it (the same brutal book signing mentioned above) you’ll feel like your hard work hasn’t been for naught.
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