The 5 Keys to Pain-Free Book Promotion

by Joel Friedlander on October 12, 2012 · 54 comments

Post image for The 5 Keys to Pain-Free Book Promotion

by Carol Costello

I met Carol at a talk I gave on self-publishing at the Mechanics Institute Library. Carol learned book promotion from the ground up last year when she published her first novel, Chasing Grace—even though she was a master sales coach and had made her living as a freelance writer for 40 years. She’ll be sharing what she learned at her next class, “Promote Your Book the Easy, Natural Way” on Oct. 27 at the Mechanics Institute Library in San Francisco. I asked her for her tips on how authors can “take the anxiety out of book promotion and replace it with a simple, authentic conversation between you and the people who most want to read your book.” Here’s her response.



“I would rather have a root canal than promote my book,” my client Barbara said. “There are a million things to do, I don’t know how to do most of them, I’m not very techie, and I don’t even know where to start learning. It makes my stomach hurt. Besides, I’m a writer, not a promoter!”

The truth we all come to know, sooner or later, is that we have to promote our own books—whether we publish traditionally or as indies.

Thousands of wonderful books go by the wayside because book promotion is haunted by the Ghost of Selling Past. These nightmare scenarios involve Girl Scout cookies, school raffle tickets, magazine subscriptions—and even chocolate bars!

The #1 reason people don’t promote their books, or don’t promote them successfully, is that they equate promoting the book they love with these selling horror stories. They dread doing it, aren’t sure where to begin, don’t want to look foolish—and often, they can’t even bring themselves to start.

Chasing Grace by Carol CostelloI have stepped into all of these potholes. I spent a year wandering in the wilderness of neophyte book promotion and returned with a simple, anyone-can-do-it way to promote your book that is both enriching and fun—for you and for the people you contact.

Is there really such a thing as pain-free book promotion? Yes, if you follow 5 simple strategies:

  1. Take a deep breath. Especially if you self-publish, you don’t have to do everything right away. You can go at your own pace, be yourself, and discover the marketing activities that you like (and therefore, will actually do). You can learn a lot from marketing blogs, newsletters, webinars, and programs—but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to do it all. Collect information, and do what resonates with you.
  2. Remember that promotion is just a conversation between you and people who are genuinely drawn to your book. It’s not blasting out hype to everyone in cyberspace; it’s speaking with people about something you love and they want. To make that happen, you need to do two things:
    1. Define your readers (demographics, wants and needs) and discover where they hang out, especially online.
    2. Develop a way to talk with them and listen to them consistently.
  3. Create a virtual “back yard fence” where this conversation can occur. You don’t need to do everything the experts mention, but you do need a few basic tools:
    • Website: Your site is “you” online, a place where you are always present, where you can meet and greet people even when you are asleep. It can include pages for your blog, book(s), events, speaking, programs, “About You,” and an incentive to sign up for your email list. (After much trial and error, I realized that I wanted to create and manage my own site, and found that the best way for non-techie me to do this was through SiteSetupKit.)
    • Email list, usually through services like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber. This is crucial, because it gives you a way to start conversations with your people. Offer a gift to folks who sign up: a white paper, ebook, or some other freebie.
    • Outreach. Meet new friends and readers through social media, special interest sites and groups, offline events and speaking, and wherever else your people go.
  4. Go with the promotional flow. There is a classic flow to this conversation. It goes like this: You reach out to people and invite them to your site—where you inform, entertain, and inspire them. They sign up for your email list and receive your valuable freebie. Now three terrific things can happen:
    • You have a way to speak directly to the specific people who have demonstrated an interest in you and your book. You can notify them of blog posts, events, news, and whatever else you think will further inform, entertain, and inspire them.
    • They can communicate back to you through comments on your site.
    • As you learn more about them, you can speak to them more and more effectively and develop a deeper and more trusting relationship. They become what people call “your tribe,” and this tribe grows organically as you reach out to more people and they reach out to their friends on your behalf.
  5. Treat yourself like a human being—not a promotional machine that should be everywhere on the internet, chugging out blog posts, tweets, and comments 24/7. There are millions of “shoulds” in world of book promotion. Don’t be a slave to them. If you hate Twitter, don’t put “tweet” on your to do list. Do what feels good, and take time away to refresh yourself and enjoy life.

BONUS TIP #1: Use common sense. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to promote your book successfully. Just think about the result you want, and use common sense to get there.

My first sales job was selling seats in a seminar. I had no idea how to reach out to people—so I sat at a desk with a phone and opened up my address book. Two years later, I had enrolled 3,500 in that seminar! Your original marketing ideas are the ones that will work best.

BONUS TIP #2: Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. At one point, I got completely caught up in reading blogs, going to webinars, and attending marketing classes. I realized that I’d forgotten to do the obvious: send a copy of my novel, Chasing Grace, to the local paper in Elmhurst, Illinois, where much of it is set.

BONUS TIP #3: Stick to the basics. Really, it’s just us chickens. Who are your people? Where are they? Where will you send them once you find them? (Hint: your website) What do you want them to do once they get there? (Hint: opt in to your email list) Now what? Nurture them, keep giving to them, and create a community that’s looking forward to your next project.

There is no right way to promote your book. One method might work for one person, but not for another. Put the basics in place, be creative, find marketing activities that you like to do, and keep thinking outside the box and trying new things.

Most importantly, remember to be yourself—a person with something wonderful to offer people, who just wants to engage in a conversation that benefits everyone.

Carol CostelloCarol Costello has been an investigative reporter, acquisitions and developmental editor, book doctor, and ghostwriter of 30 books, including 2 bestsellers. Her blogs are: WRITE IN THE ZONE and THE SOUL OF SELLING. She is the author of Chasing Grace: A Novel of Odd Redemption; Creativity on Demand: Write in the Zone; Sell Yourself Without Feeling Pushy, Creepy, or WEIRD!; and The Soul of Selling. You can contact her at carol@carolcostello.net.

Photo credit: El Bibliomata via photopin cc. All Amazon links are affiliate links.

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    { 46 comments… read them below or add one }

    Ken E Baker October 18, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Thanks for the great article, Carol – and the hard-earned advice :)

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 15, 2012 at 9:11 am

    First, Jane, congrats on putting up your backlist books! Thanks for your kind words. Sometimes I think we should all have “Breathe!” tattooed on our palms for a quick reminder. There truly is no right way to do book promotion; there are only ways that work for you. Courage!

    Reply

    jane ayres October 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks Joel and Carol – much appreciated. 3 titles are for pony mad teens (a 3 book series) with all my royalties going to a horse sanctuary and the other 3 are a different genre under another pen name. I had planned to get at least 3 more of the backlist teen books onto kindle before xmas but I am realising this may not be realistic given that I also have a day job! As you will gather I am highly motivated and driven, but aware it is easy to burn out. The experience has made me realise how tough it is for any publisher but the indie community is so warm, supportive and helpful, providing the encouragement and inspiration to keep going.

    Reply

    Jane Ayres October 15, 2012 at 4:28 am

    I read this article at just the right time. Having recently self published 6 of my backlist to kindle (all at once, crazily) I am now getting completely overwhelmed by everything you can and should do the promote the books and getting exhausted and disillusioned so it was so refreshing to read that “There are millions of “shoulds” in world of book promotion. Don’t be a slave to them. Do what feels good, and take time away to refresh yourself and enjoy life.” Hopefully I can keep reminding myself of this each time I get low. Brilliant post, thank you Carol.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Unless all six books appeal to the exact same market, you have really taken on a huge task, Jane. Maybe try using the 80/20 rule, and concentrate on just those tasks that have the best chance of success right now, then move on to the others. And good luck!

    Reply

    David Bradley October 15, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Interesting post. My book publishes in November, so getting myself up to speed.

    On a linguistic note…do Americans say “Cannot see the forest for the trees”? As in: “Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.”

    We Brits would say “Cannot see the *wood* for the trees”, which, of course is a double entendre, because wood is the forest but also the material from which trees are composed. So it has a multiple meaning for bigger picture and smaller picture perspective. Just sayin’

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 15, 2012 at 8:25 am

    We do say that, David. Mine is not the most elegant use of the phrase, but we do say, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.”

    Reply

    kay rogal October 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Loved your advice!!! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Thanks to you, Kay, for taking the time to respone!

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks for replying, Kay. Good luck!

    Reply

    Glory Gray October 13, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Thank you for sharing your insights! I can’t wait to market my book. I enjoy that. But how do I know the demographic to go after when my book is a debut mainstream fiction novel? Just make an educated guess and adjust as I go?

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

    That’s exactly right, Glory! Also, you might look at the subject (as in Still Alice and Alzheimer’s), your characters (YA?), the setting (as much of my novel, Chasing Grace, is set in the Chicago area), and other elements that might have a particular appeal. But in the end, educated guesses and nimble feet (and fingers) are our best shot.

    Reply

    Glory Gray October 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Great ideas, thank you!

    Reply

    Ernie Zelinski October 13, 2012 at 3:36 am

    As many of you already know, I like to express my opinion with quotations by people more accomplished than me: When it comes to marketing books, pay particular attention to these quotations:

    “Nothing sells by itself.”
    — Ellen Chodosh

    “The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.”
    — Seth Godin

    “Book writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Anyone who decides to write a book must expect to invest a lot of time and effort without any guarantee of success. Books do not write themselves and they do not sell themselves. Authors write and promote their books.”
    — Dan Poynter

    “The vast majority of self-published books sell less than ten copies a year online and through traditional retail channels, and that probably disappoints a lot of self-publishers. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s hard enough for traditionally published books to register meaningful sales, and they have huge built-in advantages.”
    — Jeff Herman, Literary Agent

    “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
    — Richard Bach

    “No amount of money or marketing can overcome a book that doesn’t deliver. So your first challenge is to write a book that your networks assure you is as good as you want it to be. The content of your books
    will determine how you sell them to publishers and promote them to book buyers. Content precedes commerce.”
    — Rick Frishman

    “People think that just because they’ve written something, there’s a market for it. It’s not true.”
    — Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver

    “Are you publishing this book to make a living? Good luck with that. Less than 3% of newly published authors make enough in royalties and advances to be happy to live on.”
    — Seth Godin

    And I am going add a quotation by Joe Konrath. For the record, I am not a big fan of Konrath, mainly because of his constant criticism of traditional publishers (My opinion is that Konrath hasn’t applied critical thinking skills in his analysis of traditional publishers.) Nevertheless, I do admire and acknowledge the success that Konrath has achieved. What’s more, I particularly agree with Konrath’s statement:

    “Write a damn good book. This should be your main priority. It’s also one of the hardest things to do, and the hardest things to judge for yourself if you’ve done it. The problem is, most writers believe their books are good. Even at our most insecure, we believe complete strangers will enjoy our scribblings enough to pay for the privilege.”
    — Joe Konrath

    Again, as Konrath says, “Write a damn good book.” Of course, the problem is that the vast majority of writers think they have a damn good book, when, it fact, they don’t. In other words. and to be quite frank, they are delusional. Today, particularly on the Kindle platform, I am seeing so much crap and mediocre product being posted and super-saturating the market. And much of this is a result of the so-called book experts selling book-writing and book-promotional products to these wanabee best-selling writers without telling the truth about their chances for success.

    What good will promotion do for the crap and mediocre products being put out there?

    As this marketing legend stated:

    “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”
    — David Ogilvy

    Perhaps some people may think that I am being negative. On the contrary, I haven’t had 750,000 copies of my books sold worldwide by being overly negative. Nonetheless, do pay attention to this insightful article about “The Power of Negative Thinking.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/opinion/sunday/the-positive-power-of-negative-thinking.html

    I like how the writer of this article states: “What if all this positively is part of the problem? What if we’re trying too hard to think positive and might do better to reconsider our relationship to ‘negative’ emotions and situations?”

    Incidentally, the writer of this “New York Times” article is Oliver Burkeman, the author of the forthcoming book “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.”

    For what it’s worth, this is a book with great potential, first, because it
    has a great title. Second, because it is a book that will generate controversy. For those authors who still haven’t gotten it, controversy is a great marketing tool. That is part of what Joe Konrath refers to as being a “damn good book.”

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author, Innovator, and Prosperity Life Coach
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 165,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    Reply

    Ed Lake October 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I just uploaded the cover art for my new non-fiction book “A Crime Unlike Any Other” to Create Space. I uploaded the interior content yesterday. Create Space says it will take about 48 hours for some human beings to look things over. Assuming they find no major problems, it will then be time for me to buy some “proof copies.”

    I’ll start mentioning the book by name on my web site this Sunday. The site is at http://www.anthraxinvestigation.com I’ve got about 300 regular readers for the site (and a lot more occasional visitors), but I don’t know how many of them buy and read books. (Not very many bought my first book in 2005.)

    I know some journalists, but the book really slams the media, so I doubt that anyone at The New York Times is going to help me promote a book that slams The New York Times. But, I know other journalists and some authors, too. They might help. And, as someone suggested in this thread, local and nearby newspapers might be open to writing something about a local author who has a new book.

    While journalists from the New York Times probably won’t write about the book, they might buy copies. Lots of them are mentioned in the book. I’ve probably got a couple hundred people’s names in my index. I wonder how many of them will buy the book — if they find out about it some way.

    I guess my biggest hope is for some “word of mouth.” I’m hoping that everyone who knew the central character in the book will want a copy, and everyone he worked with, and everyone at the FBI who helped track him down. There’s a lot in the book that should surprise most of them. And there’s a lot that should be HIGHLY controversial. Plus, there seems to be a LARGE group of people who have alternative and conspiracy theories about the case, so they might buy copies just so they can write bad reviews for it on Amazon.com.

    When I uploaded the cover and bought Create Space’s “Expanded Distribution” package, I was informed that they won’t be putting the book into the system (Taylor & Baker) that libraries and universities use, because I had my own ISBN code and didn’t use one from Create Space. I have no idea how may potential sales that will cost. Between 4 and 5 percent of the hits to my web site come from .edu web sites. Presumably, if they can’t get it at their library, they’ll consider buying a copy.

    I’m mulling over the idea of paying for a “press release.” Does that do any good?

    Ed

    Reply

    Ed Lake October 13, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Hmm. I just learned something else: You can only order a maximum of 5 “proofs” of your book from Create Space. I planned to order 25, since the “proofs” are supposed to be exact copies of what the final product would look like.

    The 5 “proofs” will be delivered on Wednesday.

    As of this moment, I’m the only person on earth who has read the book. That’s about to change.

    Ed

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 13, 2012 at 7:02 am

    That’s the spirit! Best of luck with your book, Ed.

    Reply

    Ed Lake October 13, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Carol,

    Thanks. When I thought I could order 25 “proofs” there was no problem with who would get to read them. With only 4 “proofs” to send out (and 1 to keep), it’s a lot harder figuring out who would likely provide the best and FASTEST feedback.

    Ed

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Ed, I haven’t tried this but it should work if you make a small change to the book and upload the “new” version you should be able to order another 5 proof copies, etc. You can also send the same files to a vendor like 48hrbooks.com who will be happy to print as many proof copies as you like.

    Ed Lake October 13, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Joel,

    Thanks. The limit of just 5 proofs forced me rethink things. I was going to just let the book go as is and send out “proofs” as if they were final versions. I was getting overly impatient.

    Now I’m thinking that I should really use the “proofs” for their intended purpose – to let a few people read the book to see what errors and typos they can find. Then I’ll make corrections (if any) and produce the “final” version.

    Maybe they’ll find something I never noticed before.

    Thanks for the suggestion, though.

    Ed

    Tracy R. Atkins October 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Joel is right. You can deny your proofs online, make a re-upload and order more.

    Two things to consider:

    1) Every Proof, has a page in the back that says “PROOF” in large, diagonal lettering.

    2) If you approve your book, you can order the book for the same price as the proof, sans the “proof page”. If you don’t want it public yet, simply don’t enable any of the distribution options.

    Ed Lake October 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Tracy,

    Thanks. I’m not going to do anything else until I see the “proofs” that are due to be delivered on Wednesday.

    The pdf file they provided to me has a page at the end that just has “PROOF” in big letters in the center and “Printed by CreateSpace” at the bottom. That’s probably what you’re saying will be in the “proof” copies of the book.

    So, it’s a good thing I couldn’t order 25 of them.

    I’ll probably create new pdf files with some real corrections and resubmit. Then, if everything looks okay in the pdf file they give me, instead of getting another set of proofs, I’ll just go straight into the final version and tell them to start selling.

    But, I could change my mind twenty times before then. ;-)

    It all depends on what kind of changes I make based upon what the proofs look like and what errors or typos people find.

    Ed

    Ed Lake October 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Joel,

    Bumbling my way through the process, I found this statement on Create Space’s web site:

    “If you select “Approve Proof,” your book will become available immediately through the CreateSpace eStore and for your own author orders. It will be available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es and Amazon.it within 5-7 business days and through Expanded Distribution within 6-8 weeks.”

    However, Tracy wrote:

    “2) If you approve your book, you can order the book for the same price as the proof, sans the “proof page”. If you don’t want it public yet, simply don’t enable any of the distribution options.”

    I already paid the $25, so I hesitate to DISABLE any distribution options.

    That tells me that if I want to send copies of the book to book reviewers in the media a couple weeks before the book actually goes on sale, I WILL have to play the “book proof game” and get copies that way. There’s no “completely safe” way to order final copies and delay making it available to everyone else.

    I’m going to try for a November 19 “publication date.” So, I need to “approve proof” on November 12.

    I’ve got seven or eight media outlets that I’d like to have read the book before it goes on sale.

    As I see it, that means I have to make some changes, order five “proofs,” make more changes and order five more “proofs.”

    I’ll send the seven or eight copies to the reviewers during the last week of October.

    Then, I’ll make whatever typo/grammar changes the people who are actually reading the book tell me I need to make. When those changes are done, I’ll sit on things until November 12. Then I’ll “approve proof.”

    When the books are final and made publicly available, I’ll buy more copies for my friends, for my relatives, for my local library, for the Library of Congress, for the Copyrights Office, etc.

    Does that make sense?

    Ed

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins October 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Ed,

    Under your Book Project,
    Select Distribution / Channels.

    They will all be “grey” off by default. Paying the $25 doesn’t enable them by default. It just allows you to select them.

    So, Go in your Distribution Channels Channels:
    Make sure only “CreateSpace eStore” is selected. (Blue)
    Unselect Amazon, Amazon Europe, Bookstores, Libraries, CreateSpaceDirect.

    As long as those are unselected, you can approve your proof and it wont be sent to any of those other retailers. Its safe, and how I have done my Launch. Feel free to email me if you run into issues.
    Tracy at tracyratkins dot com.

    Now, some Caveats:
    The expanded distribution, for Libraries, CreateSpace Direct, ETC, they take around 4-6 weeks typically to go live. Even if you approve it now, you will but cutting it very close on that launch window for 3rd party vendors.

    The Amazon and Amazon Europe options only take a week or less to go live.

    A month is pretty close to do a launch.. I started 6 months early and im still pressed for time on some things due to learning my way through it.

    Reply

    Ed Lake October 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Tracy,

    “They will all be “grey” off by default.”

    Five are BLUE and say “Selected.” When I move the cursor over them, they show “Deselected” and turn red.

    The arrow for “Libraries and Academic institutions” is grey because I used an ISBN I purchased in 2005, not a Create Space ISBN. It says “Not eligible.”

    Uh oh! I just clicked on the arrow for Amazon Europe and it turned grey and it says “Select.” Then I clicked on it again and it went back to blue, but it seems to change to red whenever I come back here and then go back there again.

    “Select” seems like it means I need to select something. Selected seems like it means I’ve already selected it, particularly since it also shows a check mark.

    However, on the previous page it says “Channels” and says “6 more available – 0 selected.”

    I think I’m going to have some ice cream and watch a movie. I’ll come back and look this over again tomorrow.

    Thanks.

    Ed

    Ed Lake October 15, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Tracy,

    After sleeping on it, I realized that the Distribution channel switches probably don’t work until after the proofs have been approved.

    That option isn’t viable for me. I want to get copies of the book in the hands of journalists BEFORE the proofs are finally approved on November 12. So, I’ll be making some changes to the book and ordering more proofs ASAP. I’ll send those proofs to newspapers at the end of October.

    If you want to discuss this further, the right place might be on my blog at http://anthraxdebate.blogspot.com/

    The subject is probably too specific to my unique issues to discuss here.

    Thanks.

    Ed

    Carol Verburg October 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Excellent advice! I’m looking forward to more at Carol’s class on Oct. 27!

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Yay! Thanks, Carol. All are welcome. Check it out at:
    http://www.milibrary.org/class/promoteyourbook

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Thanks, Ilana. You’re right. It’s just a matter of working with our human nature to seek out ways to like the things we need to do. Hhmmm. The treadmill… Music? TV? Chocolate?

    Reply

    Ilana Waters October 12, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for the words I needed to hear (i.e., if you hate something, don’t put it on your “to-do” list). Although you can’t avoid every marketing task you consider unpleasant, the ones you like best will probably show the best results. It’s like exercising–the more you LIKE to do, the more you WILL do it, and the more consistently you’ll meet your goals.

    Now if only I could find a way to like the treadmill . . . ;-)

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins October 12, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Fantastic article and so very true on point 2.

    I have learned that it gets easier as you do it. The first few times I reached out to people, I must have sounded like a first-day telemarketer from Afghanistan. However, as you start to interact with people and get to know others in the field, it takes the edge off. After a while, you start to make acquaintances of some of the people you meet along the way. A few will become friends. If you are lucky, people will even contact you occasionally. The “tribe concept” is real and it is something very tangible in that comes from simple human social interaction.

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Well said, Tracy. It does get easier. We get more comfortable reaching out, sound less and less like “first-day telemarketers from Afghanistan,” people become more responsive, we relax more, and it becomes a great positive upward spiral.

    Reply

    Anna Erishkigal October 12, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Great insight, Carol! (And thanks Joel for bringing her to us). I -hate- selling my work, especially because the people who surround me are not fans of the genre I publish in. The hardest thing is forcing yourself to get out there and use social media and also traditional book distribution methods (i.e., knocking bookstore door to bookstore door). My non-fiction is easy to sell because I teach these self-help seminars. If people want a copy of the print version of the book, I bring some with me. The purpose of my being there is not to promote my book. My fiction work … not so easy. Where do you find people who need help organizing their own army and defeating an evil god?

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins October 12, 2012 at 9:17 am

    That’s where finding your audience makes all of the difference. There is a niche and genre website for everything, with active fans. Seek those places out and get involved. You will not only make friends, but find people who may just love your book!

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Thanks, Anna. As someone who works with both fiction (Chasing Grace) and non-fiction (The Soul of Selling), I appreciate the dilemma. I am discovering that I need to find two separate “tribes.” There is some crossover, but trying to smoosh the audiences for a spiritual novel and a selling primer proved difficult.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus October 12, 2012 at 3:12 am

    A few more:

    (1) Each book can sell other books. It’s common to list your other books in the front matter, but the back matter can have a page devoted to each book you’ve written that might appeal to the same audience. Have a large illustration, a one-paragraph description, and “available at…”

    (2) Always carry business cards that show your book cover and “available at…” Many people that you meet — on a supermarket line, in the post office or on a plane — are potential customers. My wife ‘sold’ a book of mine to our dentist. He liked it and put it on display in his office. My podiatrist and two ‘ologists’ got freebies and recommended the book to others.

    (3) Don’t think that it’s a waste of time to ‘sell’ one book at a time. Each happy reader can tell other people who may become customers. Make sure that friends, neighbors and business associates know that you are an author and know what you write about.

    (4) Your ‘day job’ may be able to help you sell books. I own a company that sells telecommunication products. Every carton that we ship includes business cards for a book I wrote about phone systems, and a book with broad appeal. My telecom websites have links to sell my books about telecom.

    (5) Your online presence can go beyond your website. You can have Facebook pages for you as an author and as a publisher in addition to your personal page. You should be on LinkedIn, too, and maybe Twitter and Pinterest. Have one or more blogs. Each online piece of your platform should link to the others.

    (6) Your emails and online comments should include a tagline that promotes your latest book and/or your work in general, with links. Here’s one– Coming Soon: “499 Essential Publishing Tips for a Penny Apiece. http://silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing/499selfpublishingtips.html

    (7) If you’ve written nonfiction, set up Google alerts for your topic(s) and when you are alerted to an appropriate discussion about your topic, contribute something useful and gently plug your book as I did in #6.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.SilverSandsBooks.com
    http://www.BookFur.com
    http://www.Facebook.com/SilverSandsBooks

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Wow! Thanks for the fantastic suggestions, Michael!

    Carol Costello
    http://www.carolcostello.net
    http://www.soulofselling.com

    Registration for “Promote Your Book the Easy, Natural Way”:
    http://www.milibrary.org/class/promoteyourbook

    Reply

    RD Meyer October 12, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Biggest tip of all – you have to promote. People aren’t going to beat down your door and demand to read your book.

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins October 12, 2012 at 8:02 am

    It amazes me just how small the book market really is. There are 7 billion people on earth, over 300 million in the US Alone. Yet, many books won’t find any audience at all. Even mega-block buster books are only purchased by 1% of the US population, 0.0042% of the globe’s! And those are the books that sell 3 million copies. Just trying to make a small dent is pretty difficult, out of all of those people.

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Yes, but worth it as our books get out to more and more people. And even more worth it if we can make promotion more than a chore–something fulfilling and even enjoyable.

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins October 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Oh, I agree that it is worth it. It’s just surprising to me how few readers there are. It’s kind of sad. But, that is modern life, with a lot of distraction. I wonder, has anyone on here had any luck with penetrating foreign markets?

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Someone contacted me about the Spanish rights to The Soul of Selling (see it at http://www.soulofselling.com) in response to a Soul of Selling blog post. It was completely out of the blue, but I talked with an agent and she put her foreign rights person on it.

    Joel Friedlander October 12, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I actually find this reassuring, Tracy, because it shows that you don’t have to reach a huge number of people to be successful. And remember, most successful books get there due to network effects—people urging their friends to read it, so the real number of people you need to affect is quite reachable.

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins October 12, 2012 at 10:31 am

    That’s a great point Mr. Friedlander. There is a huge ‘ecosystem’ of people out there. Touching a few people might set a fire that spreads around the world. Books are meant to move people or inform (or both). Touching someone who tells a few other people is crucial. Heck, I have met more cool people and my little sphere has expanded so much, just from hanging out here. It is really awe-inspiring if you think about it, the power of connection.

    Reply

    spike Pedersen October 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

    On the other side, you only need to reach 0.0042% of the people to be sucessful as in 3 million copies sold.

    Reply

    Carol Costello October 12, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Exactly! This truth is a “big frog” we have to swallow first! Then we can just get on with it, be productive, and have fun!

    Reply

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