Your book is published, the boxes have been delivered and it looks great! Now what? Well if you are a self-published author, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. It’s up to you to market and sell your book. While you may have some supporters who go to bat for you by in large it’s up to you to get out there and slog, slog, slog.
New to the book industry I had no idea what I was in for. Yes I had done some research but like most people I talk to now, they wonder what I could possibly be doing to fill my day.
The book I published is called the Personal Healthcare Journal. While not your typical novel it is still in book format, so it is still classified as a book. Markets for this product are extremely broad and so I have many avenues to pursue.
My book launch was held at an independent bookstore called McNally Robinson. They do a fantastic job of helping local authors get their books into consumer’s hands. They helped me organize an event complete with sound, chairs, coffee and tea. Leading up to the event they also had my book showcased on a table and pillar at the front of the store making it very visible. I invited scores of people but still only 20 or so people came – mostly family. I sold some books and was buoyed by the kind words from those in attendance.
A week prior to the book launch I was busy sending emails to news reporters hoping to score some really great media coverage. I managed to get three written pieces including the whole front page of a complete section in our largest paper and a spot on TV; this definitely helped sales.
So how do you get your book into a bookstore? Definitely getting media attention helps. In fact three bookstores called to ask me for copies to stock in their stores. In Canada all bookstores sell self-published books on consignment. What I have learned though is that when there is great media attention they drop their consignment rate from 45% to 40%. I still have to push a little when I pick up a new store on the consignment rate but it does seem somewhat negotiable.
Back to identifying markets for your book. Having a background in marketing communications I learned that often there is more than one place you can go to sell your product – you may need to think outside the box. In my case the new markets that quickly emerged were hospital gift shops, healthcare product stores and even pharmacies. These stores are similar to bookstores in that unless you have a distributor it’s up to you to visit each store individually and sell your wares. The great thing about these markets is they actually tend to purchase your product outright so you don’t have to wait for the books to sell as on consignment.
It’s a tough world out there – but if you’re assertive or tenacious you can do it! It also helps to offer to do a book signing because it draws business into the bookstore and at the end of the day no matter how amazing your book is it all comes down to money.
Betsy Hiebert is the author of Personal Healthcare Journal.