A Marketing Success Story: Who Knew it Could Actually Be Done?

business-commerce-salesmen-sale-sales_pitch-sales_strategy-desperate-aton3946_low.jpgEveryone knows the drill. You write a book, a literary masterpiece, and you decide to either send it to an agent and publisher for publication, or publish it yourself. Congratulations! Your job is now done! Finally your book can make its way into the world.

Sadly, you are so very wrong.

What many people, particularly traditionally published authors, don’t take into account is how much time and effort you have to put into marketing your own novel. Publication companies do help, however, unless you are already a top selling author, often you are given minimal pre-publication publicity (nice alliteration, me) and forced to either see your book sink into the endless depths of obscurity or take up the mantle yourself.

When I was fifteen, my mother published her first book League of Strays. After so many years getting rejected and improving her writing, her hard earned novel was finally becoming a reality. She created swag; bookmarks, pens, ect., and arranged a blog tour but, otherwise, assumed that her publisher would handle the rest.

Finally, the release date arrived. We had a fabulous launch party and my mother was the happiest woman on earth. Ever since she was young, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and here she was, realizing her dream. Sadly, things didn’t go as she expected.

After the launch, her book sold alright. Most people hadn’t heard of it, as her publishing company hadn’t prioritized her marketing. Worst of all, she became one of the many victims of “Goodreads Bullying”. I had to watch as her face fell,  as her Goodreads page got swamped by one woman and her cronies not only telling all her prospective readers how offensive her book was, but also bringing others in to give it one star and to leave reviews stating that, although they hadn’t actually read the book, they heard how offensive it was and felt that a one star review was necessary. Ironically, her book had been about bullying, and the dangerous consequences of responding to it with violence and aggression.

After her first book, she became rather disheartened. After what had happened with League of Strays, how could she possibly put out another, and have it be successful? I hated seeing her like that.

Ultimately however, she continued work on a book that had been close to her heart since the beginning. This book was terrifying to write; it contained the sensitive issues of the Holocaust, told from both sides of the war. Afterwards, she sent it out, and got accepted by a publisher. However, we both knew from her past experiences that this was only the beginning.

So, how do you let the world know that your book exists? It’s a scary process. Most authors don’t know where to begin, they’re worried about rejection, about wasting money on pointless promotional material and online scams. Well, I’m here to tell you those are very real concerns, however, there are some tricks to marketing that my mother and I learned after many hours of fruitless and fruitful effort.However, my mother did make one, very intelligent marketing decision right off the bat. She hired me. With cold hard cash and many, many burritos.

Marketing is a time consuming job. Having someone there to do all the research and emailing that is requires is definitely valuable. It doesn’t hurt to hire some tech savvy student who also has some knowledge of Photoshop. It’s cheap, and saves a LOT of time. It’s also effective, as long as you have a clear list of tasks for them to accomplish.

My mother and I have been struggling to figure out what to do and how to do it. We have no marketing background, and no one to help us. However, after 3 months of work, today we have accomplished something she hadn’t thought possible.

The National Holocaust Museum is selling her book, along with many other Jewish organizations across the United States.

This just goes to show, it is possible to market your own book successfully.

Over our time working together here is what I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t be afraid to contact the big guns. At first, we were reluctant to contact newspapers and large groups for promotional purposes. Especially after her last book, we were afraid of rejection. However, finally, we realized that these groups are just as actively looking for authors as we are for them. So we sent them Stolen Secrets. And the National Holocaust Museum agreed to sell it yesterday.
  2. Photoshop is your friend. 99 percent of all promotional material I was able to create on Photoshop, from bookmarks, to postcards, to professional looking posters. Hiring a designer is expensive, and a lot of the time unnecessary. Learn how to use Photoshop, or find a student who can. It’ll save you a TON of money. After all, who wants to spend a hundred dollars on bookmarks? I designed them in two hours, and we printed 250 full color bookmarks for $25 on gotprint.com.
  3. Do the basics on Goodreads. Due to her previous experience, my mother wasn’t too keen on promoting with Goodreads. However, I submitted her books to Listopia categories there that her book applied to such as Books Published September 2017 and YA’s set in the Bay Area. This is very valuable, as readers who are looking at a book in one of those categories will have your book recommended for them. It’s a quick, easy, and free thing to do, although the author can’t do it themselves. However, never put your book in any “Best of” categories, as that is unethical and could cause backlash.
  4. Get Reviews. Make sure you have several reviews on Goodreads before your publication date. Most people I know primarily show interest in books with enough reviews, good or bad, to look professional. In addition, Goodreads uses algorithms to promote books using the number of reviews as an indicator as to the book’s popularity. So get your book out to as many people as possible! Just be wary, a simple spray and pray method like mass e-book giveaways rarely results in tons of reviews.
  5. Oh My God, Fix Your Cover. Professional looking cover art is a must. This is especially true for indie authors who often have to design their own. Please get it professionally done, or done by someone competent. It’s very difficult to get people to buy a book who’s cover looks homemade. It’s sad but true.

    league of straysThis is also the case for authors who’s publishers are in charge of cover design. My mother’s first book League of Strays, looked great, except for the vampire-esque guy brooding on the cover (Look at those thick eyebrows, that dark and hooded stare. He looks like Edward Cullen had an unholy lovechild with a serial killer). You don’t know how many confused reviews she got saying that they had thought this was a vampire novel. The cover repelled many fantasy haters, which was a shame because her book contained no fantasy at all.

    Now, for her second book, Stolen Secrets, the publication company decided to gostolensecretsfront1 all  out on the Jewish theme, and sent us a sample cover which was covered in faded sheets of paper, and sported a big, red, Jewish star on the front. Both of us thought it was ugly, and looked like the kind of book no teen would grab off the shelf. It looked boring. She didn’t know if it was okay to contact the publishers and reject the cover but, remembering her lack of action with her first book, proceeded to contact them with a redesigned cover I had made (It wasn’t fabulous, but at least it didn’t look like the kind of book teachers forced you to read in middle school). They responded, slightly annoyed, with a new, fabulous, eye-catching cover.

The overall moral of our marketing adventures together was that successful marketing can be done, you can contact those groups or organizations that you are afraid to even consider, and that you can reason with designers or publication companies. Your novel only comes out once. Give it the best entrance into the world you can and leave yourself with no regrets afterwards. After all, which would you rather face, a little rejection, or permanent obscurity?

 

 

 

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Bruce E. Dunn Speaks on his Experience as an Indie Author

pygmalian coverWhat makes your books stand out from others in the same genre?

It is creative and unique. I will quote from my copy editor from Firsteditiong.com. She wrote about the first book, “Pygmalion Conspiracy”. She wrote, “All I have to say is WOW! I have NEVER read anything like this! This is by far the most creative, unique, captivating, (and educational) book I’ve read/edited in a long time. I couldn’t help but feel enamored with your writing style and the world you created. It’s absolutely stunning. What a creative story! Jeevra is a phenomenal protagonist, and I have no doubt your readers will love this book from cover to cover.”
It is hard to fit into a genre other than simply science fiction. The starting date is around 200,000 years ago and, at least for Goodreads, that is too far back to be called historical science fiction. The whole series of four books covers a period from about 450,000 to about 8000 years ago.
Perhaps it is anthropological science fiction or maybe even creationist science fiction, but it is by no means in the Christian tradition. It is more in the line of genetic engineering.

What are some pros and cons to retaining full creative control over your book?

There are no cons to me. However, I can see cons for someone whose livelihood depends on the revenue from a book. I feel pretty sure of the sales expertise of major book companies. For me I want creative control. I am willing to pay for it. However, I do not know if a book company would demand changes for better sales. I will say that two people who wrote to me about how much they like my book worked as editors in major book companies. So I do wonder at times if I made a mistake. I do know that as a self-published author I can win neither the Hugo nor Nebula awards. This may seem arrogant of me, but I do know that a book of poetry that sold only bout 1500 copies won the Nobel Prize for literature.

To read the full interview click here

Alex Thomas Davis Shares his Literary Experiences

alex thomas davis

Alex Thomas Davis is primarily a singer songwriter, and has also worked across multiple industries. His books are aimed at children mainly, aged 7-14 but adults would enjoy reading them too. He only started writing in 2017 and hopes to write a cornucopia of children’s poetry books.

 

 

What’s one thing you would like to change about the way you handled writing and publishing your first book?
Nothing really it all went really well. As a songwriter who has written 50 albums, I decided to branch out into writing children’s poetry books, and I absolutely love it! I self published, and am currently working on book 5. The idea is to write 6-7 books and then send them all off neatly to publishers with a ribbon tied around them. So that is the plan.

What was the best expenditure of money you have made throughout this process?
I have found that self publishing doesn’t really reap rewards moneywise. It is a process I am doing in order to get noticed better. ie. funky front and back covers too. Although I did make it into the top 50 Children’s Poetry Books on Amazon, next to Dr Seuss and Benjamin Zepeniah!

For the full interview, click here

An Interview with Indie Author Prakaash Sharma

Life_In_Shackles_Cover_for_KindleHow do you publicize your books?

I never used any paid service to publicize my books. I use my social circle for it. Recently, I used free promo on KDP and listed a giveaway on goodreads for my first book “Kathputli”.

 

 

What made you decide to become an independent author?prakesh book 2

To be very frank, I have tried a lot to get my work published with traditional publishers but failed. I contacted some literary agents but they turned down my request the very next day. Even I contacted some vanity publishers too but their demand was too high. Hence, I dare to be an Indie and I am happy to find myself on Google search up to around 15 pages 😊

For the full interview visit here

Adrianna Tetnowski Discusses her Novel The Dark Maiden

Why did you decide to become an indie author?

I decided to become an indie author purely for the fact that I didn’t want to wait around for someone to approve of my stories, I want them out there for people to read and hopefully enjoy. I feel like I have so much more freedom with both writing and publishing. I don’t have to wait around for someone else to give me a thumbs up – to know that they think my work is ready. My reason for writing is to share stories and I am lucky enough to be able to do that as often as I want.

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring novelists?

The best piece of advice I could give an aspiring author is to just do it. If someone tells you that you can’t be successful at writing, use that as motivation to try even harder. Care enough about your work and your characters, the worlds you build and the words that you write to think about it everyday, to want to wake up and hit that word count you have set up for yourself. Your stories can only be told by you, so don’t keep them locked away.

For the full interview, click here

Adrianna J. Tetnowski

 

Adrianna J. Tetnowski was born in Poland but, now lives in Lancashire. The Dark Maiden is the first novel in her The Tales of Iradas series, which she had started writing at fourteen years old. She is currently studying a BA in English Language at Edge Hill University. When Adrianna isn’t writing, she enjoys watching far too many films and TV series like Shadowhunters, Salem and Marco Polo; or catching up on a never ending TBR book list – all whilst drinking way too much coffee/tea than she should be.

Indie Picture Book Author and Illustrator Lauren Pierre Shares her Experience in the Industry

What are the challenges of writing a picture book that people may not be aware of?

It’s harder than it looks! A lot of people have the awful misconception that writing for children is easier and even “less sophisticated” than writing for adults, especially in the case of picture books. That’s a boldface lie. Children need positive, upstanding literature to guide them through the journey that is growing up, and the writers who try to make that journey a little smoother (myself included) really are taking on a difficult, but rewarding task. Squeezing a meaningful message into 800-1000 words, in a way that is accessible by children is NOT as easy as it may sound.

What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced as an illustrator?

DEADLINES. Even though I’ve mainly worked for myself, goal-setting is something I’ve struggled with. The “trick” I’ve found helpful is to plan ahead; draw thumbnails so you know how the illustrations are going to look. Capitalize on you’re most productive moments during the day, and pace yourself; avoid getting burned-out and remember to rest!

For the full interview, click here

 

tip and lulu

 

Lauren Isabelle Pierre is a children’s writer, digital illustrator, and animation enthusiast residing in South Florida. She is the author of two books, and is expecting to release two more in the coming months.

How to Market an Independent Novel

       Everyone knows the drill. An author sells their manuscript to a publisher who then takes care of marketing and publicizing the book. The publisher supposedly designs and pays for the cover art, blurbs, and all the other little things that go into the creation of a professional novel (although many traditionally published authors are taking on more of the burden of marketing as the publishing industry evolves).

Recently, however, the publishing industry has gotten more and more difficult to break into. Some authors reject the idea of traditional publishing altogether in an attempt to have full creative and fiscal control over their novels. This path is certainly challenging, from finding and paying designers for your cover to getting your book out there and taken seriously.

The new section of my blog Indie Author Central is dedicated to collecting both reviews of independently published books, as well as interviews from indie authors for their advice on how to break into the market.

My first author interview in this section is with award winning indie writer Wendy Hinman. She is the author of two non-fiction adventure novels, Tightwads on the Loose and Sea Trials.

            tightwads on the loose

Tightwads on the Loose is a lighthearted travel adventure book about the 7-year, 34,000-mile voyage she took with her husband aboard a small violently rocking sailboat where she alternated between feats worthy of Wonder Woman or Suzy Homemaker. It’s full of humor and armchair thrills. Tightwads on the Loose was selected for the literature program for Western Washington University, won the Journey Award for best true life adventure story and was selected as a top travel book for women.

 

sea trials

 

Sea Trials is the story of a family’s quest to finish sailing around the world despite being shipwrecked. It’s a timeless true story of resilience and determination as they also face wild weather, threats from pirates, gun boats, mines and thieves, a broken rig, scurvy and starvation in a journey that tests them to their limits.

 

 

Here are some of the questions asked:

What aspect of working with an independent press did you love?

I love having control over the look and feel of the book. I love being able to buy my books at cost and knowing that when I do an event, books will be there (because I handle that myself). I love knowing that I can implement any marketing idea without stepping on anyone’s toes. I love having a direct relationship with readers. I love knowing how much more I am earning than I would if a publisher were taking most of the profits. I love being able to do presentations and sell books afterwards and keeping the entire margin between the cost of the book printing and my retail price.

 

How did you market your book?

The most effective way to market my book came from targeting my primary readers – sailors and adventurers and reaching them through publications they read (articles and press releases), events they attend (boat shows, club meetings). On a secondary basis, I did presentations for other groups that need speakers on a regular basis. That allows me to sell books afterward at the back of the room. It also gives me free publicity and marketing which can lead to online sales before and after the event, plus excuses to post on social media (announcing events) and to send newsletter updates to that large mailing list I developed while we were out sailing.

 

 

You can read the full interview here.