The top advantage of modern publishing technology is that now any book can get published. And the top disadvantage of modern publishing technology is—now any book can get published. Including a plethora of shoddily printed, unedited books that only the writers’ mothers find interesting. So few bookstores or libraries give serious attention to self-published titles; authors have to sell directly to consumers.
This needn’t be exceptionally hard—if you know how to help the right consumers find your book.
- Consider reader demographics. What age, gender, ethnic group, and income bracket read your genre/topic? What are their interests and hobbies? Now, where do they work, shop, and spend their leisure time? That’s where to sell your books. Nearly every club office, specialty store, and nature center has a book rack. Talk to management at every local business whose customers might be interested in your work.
- Play the local angle. Send press releases to town and neighborhood papers and to community magazines. Don’t forget their Web sites. And offer your books to locally owned bookstores, which are frequently interested in area authors’ work even when national chains aren’t.
- Send press releases to trade/hobby magazines and Web sites related to your book’s topic. Better yet, submit a real article on the topic, and mention your book in the author bio.
- Start a Web site for your book(s). Post ordering information, intriguing excerpts, and a related blog. Include the Web address in your press releases and e-mail signatures.
- Print business cards and bookmarks featuring your book. Give these away everywhere.
- Volunteer to speak (on your book’s topic or on writing in general) at programs run by clubs, religious centers, and libraries. Whether or not you’re paid for the presentation, you’ll have onsite opportunities to sell or at least promote your books.
- Trust the power of word of mouth. Refer to your book in social networking. Ask everyone you know who else might like to read the book. Post a “tell your friends” request on your Web site. Remember, though: “hard-sell” approaches work against you. Focus on helping others with your book; and give away plenty of information free!
And when you get discouraged over lacking the advantages that come with a “traditional” publisher, consider the bright side: you keep all the profits, and you don’t have to worry about bookstore returns or about books going out of print prematurely!
Katherine Swarts is a professional writer specializing in corporate blogs/newsletters and other articles. Her Web address is www.spreadthewordcommercialwriting.com.