Your precious cargo has been delivered. From your living room wafts a delightful fragrance. Paper and fresh ink and clean cardboard. The anguish of waiting is over. Your books have arrived. YOUR books! All neat and tucked-in with bubble-wrap. The cover looks fabulous and it has the feel of a quality read.
Now all you have to do is sell them. Easier said than done. Promoting your book is a creative activity in itself. Sitting back and waiting for the royalties to flow from Amazon or the like will send you to the poor-house.
Here are five low-cost ways of promoting your creation.
1. Tell your local newspaper.
Every week, free neighbourhood newspapers land unbidden on your front lawn. They’re full of real estate ads and not much else. Wrong! Local papers love local news. Think up a human interest story about you and your book. Perhaps there’s an interesting reason you wrote it. Perhaps, like Baby Farm, the story sheds new light on an event or a time of social change. Turn the story behind your book into a media release. Get the name and contact details of the relevant sub-editor. Talk to them if you can. Follow up with an email and attach your media release. If you’re lucky, you might get a call or a spot in an upcoming edition.
2. Drop into your local newsagency or bookstore.
Local book retailers love local authors. Keep a stock of books in the boot of your car and spend a day doing the rounds. Chances are they might not buy your book but may be willing to stock it ‘on consignment’. This means you leave a small supply, say five copies, with the store for an agreed period of time. If they sell, the retailer pays you an agreed percentage of the RRP. If they don’t, you pick them up at the end of the period. Formalise this in writing, with a copy for the retailer and a copy for yourself. This should prevent any misunderstandings when it’s time to end the arrangement.
3. Recruit friends to promote your fab creation.
Recruit your friends and family to help promote your book. You’re proud of your achievement and so are they. Use social media, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, your blog, your friends’ blogs, your telephone contacts list, your Christmas card list. Ask people who read and like your book to write a brief review on readers’ websites (e.g. Goodreads) and your online retailers’ website (e.g. Amazon).
4. Make your public library an offer they can’t refuse.
Make the pitch look and feel professional. For example, you might offer to donate a few copies of your book to the library, or deliver an author talk at no cost, or make a guest appearance at a readers’ group that meets there. Write a proposal letter to the library manager and enclose one copy of your book. Obtain permission to sell books to customers who attend your in-person events.
5. Get a stall at the markets.
My book, Baby Farm, was released at the end of 2014. Just in time for Christmas. My highest sales day was at a market in a suburban centre. I wore lots of tinsel and a sign that said: I am the author. I talked my head off to anyone who’d listen and sold lots of books.