Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Seven: Author, Sell Thyself!

Author, sell thyself!

Truer words were never spoken. Writing is a lonely business, not just because you spent countless hours creating and revising your masterpiece, but the marketing and promoting needed to get the word out there takes up a lot of time and energy. You can’t play hermit anymore, because unless you plan on selling only to family and friends or have representation of some sort, no one is going to it for you.

First, get your book into stores. Fortunately iUniverse sets their authors up with online merchants such as Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and hundreds of others. I even found Raincloud available on online bookstores in Sweden, Germany, and India!

Getting into brick-and-mortar stores may prove a little more challenging. If you can’t convince the store owner to buy a few copies of your book, they will usually take it on consignment. Don’t neglect the independent stores; they usually take smaller cuts than the major players and allow you stand out more than in the big boxes, especially if you live in a smaller market.

Next you need to market your most important asset: yourself! Live appearances are a very powerful way to do this, and setting them up is quite a simple process involving research, emailing or telephoning, and following up. Because “sell thyself” really means “sell yourself”as a person…long before you sell your book.

As you research, you’ll find no shortage of places to have book signings. Book festivals, writing groups, retail stores, coffee houses, and so on. The best part about retail is that they may order multiple copies of your book from the publisher. Although your cut will be much smaller than with a consignment arrangement, I was very pleased to see stacks of Raincloud perched upon a table at my first in-store!

Book festivals can be quite effective too. The first such event to cross my path was the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, which I had read about on Facebook. One email, a postage stamp and $15 later, I was booked in. The event was great, very casual and not too competitive.  I had a nice looking booth thanks to the iUniverse posters included with my publishing package. And I sold a good amount of books too, at least for someone just finding his footing.

Another event, Toronto’s Word on the Street, was a much bigger festival held in the fall. As a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, I was able to set up a display at their table. I garnered more readers and had a great time.

The wheels really started churning when I dreamed up the idea of a Fall Book Tour. Picking up the phone I called Chapters/Indigo stores around the GTA, pitching my idea to hold in-store book signings. Some didn’t have the facilities to host an event and others catered only to big name authors. But many satellite stores were quite enthusiastic and excited to have me come in and talk to their customers.

Promotion was a snap. Never mind buying expensive ad space; I created Press Releases to send to local newspaper outlets and copy for posters that the stores could display, both great cost-effective ways to generate a buzz. I also promoted heavily on my Facebook Group as well as at my website

I made seven appearances in six stores, and I have to say that at each stop the Chapters/Indigo staff were all friendly and accommodating, sometimes bringing customers to my table or buying me a beverage from Starbucks. The customers themselves were a pleasure to talk to as well (there were a few exceptions of course, but that’s always the case when dealing with the public) and really showed me respect and support. And as far as sales went, I can tell you that the profits were well worth the time and gas money to travel to the stores and back.

This year I’m setting up a Raincloud Reading Series, where I read passages of Raincloud to local writing groups and sell books. I’ll also be at the Toronto Small Press Book Fair and Word on the Street again, as well as hitting any bookstores I may have missed the first time around. And I’ll do it all over again with my second novel, The Orphans of the Creek.

Just think of how incredible it would be for someone to love your first book so much they picked up your second. That, my friends, would be your first loyal reader.

Tip of the Week: Stick to it. Retailers are busy but if you are organized and well spoken, they’ll listen to you. I learned to be persistent without being annyoying and in the end they welcomed me. They’ll welcome you too.

Okay, you’re reading my blog. I obviously don’t have to tell you about how powerful they can be, providing they are comprised of effective, relevant content. Social Media is fast becoming a powerful way for authors to market their books. Check out the write-up a professional marketer did for me on her blog.  We’ll discuss web stuff in my next installment.

Coming Soon: Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Eight: Social Media: The Evolution of Marketing

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Author: Richard S. Todd

Pro copywriter. Expressive voice artist. Award-winning public speaker.

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