Saturday, August 31, 2013

What Works?

Over the past several weeks I have been delving into lots of venues in order to promote my latest book, Dying to Dream. It's time to take stock of what works, what doesn't. My publisher's senior editor has a particular view of marketing, which I tend to agree with on most points. She emphasized starting with a local environment, building a base of readers and fans who will spread the word. So, what have the local aspects of my efforts entailed?

For one, book signings at libraries and independent book stores. I've done a few in the past three months and more scheduled in the near future. Average sales have been modest, around 4 or 5 books per event. Second, I've attempted spreading the word by asking local newspapers to do reviews. My hometown even interviewed me just this past week. These are still ongoing so it's too soon to predict how this will affect sales and readership. I'm also in the process of contacting the bigger chain stores -- Barnes & Noble, Books a Million -- to work on getting them to stock my book, maybe even letting me do a book signing, although I agree this works better for indie authors when done in groups. Nothing has happened yet. And one other venture I've undertaken is to submit my book to the Buckeye Book Fair with the hopes that it will be accepted for the annual event coming up in November. This one would be a real coup since only 100 Ohio authors are invited each year. Book sellers, librarians, teachers and individual buyers from all over Ohio come to the fair to purchase books on display. I'm keeping fingers and toes crossed. My wait will be over by September 30th when the final invitation is given.

Obviously sales promotion wouldn't be complete without tackling online venues. That is something I've done a plenty. Long before Dying to Dream came out, I established an author website, this blog, an author Facebook page in addition to my personal one, and a Twitter account. Staying active on these is not only socially satisfying but also good promotion sense. Recently, I created a Facebook page for my books and another for topics specifically found in Dying to Dream, such as facts about Louisiana and stories about haunted places. I also have a Goodreads account where I've built a following by participating in the Goodreads Giveaway.

Also online are these promos called virtual book tours. From my experience, these help to build an author's platform and profile, but they aren't for helping immediate sales. Maybe other authors have had a different experience, just not me. Besides book tours, if your book is available in Kindle format, Amazon provides opportunities to promote your ebook, Book Discovery for one. I recently participated in this. For a small price you can have your book displayed on their site. I'd say the sales must have happened because my ranking soared for several days. The problem is it didn't stay that way. Again, initially, promotion online isn't about the sales. At least that's what I've been told. Rather, it's about building an audience, creating a platform, preparing for successful and easier promotion when the next book comes out with the promise that eventually the sales will come.

The downside? As a fellow author once wrote, take a look at the top ten list of bestsellers, keep watching over a long period and I think you'll notice how some of the same authors will appear again and again. Bottom line -- it's hard to be noticed, to rise above the crowd, to become successful, but keep on writing, I say. Keep improving. And obviously, keep promoting. And by the way, if you don't enjoy writing? You are losing one of the greatest rewards of this journey as an author.

Link to Amazon Kindle's Book Discovery:

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