We have many different clients who have published custom books with us. I have compiled a list of things they have done that helped make their books a success.
1) Schedule events and schedule them where it makes sense. We have a client who scheduled an event at a local ice cream parlor. But it made sense to do this because the store was mentioned in her book. As a result she sold seventy-seven copies at this one location. However, she also scheduled fifteen more events at different locations around the city and was equally successful—and not just because they served ice cream.
2) Use the old-fashioned sales approach. You still need to knock on doors and make that personal connection with potential customers. Bookstores aren’t the only place to sell books. Gift shops are good places, too. Don’t be afraid to solicit gift shops but if they do end up purchasing from you, make sure you get paid up front. Gift shops can close without warning and leave you stuck with an unpaid invoice, lost merchandise, and a personal vendetta.
3) Have a web presence. You don’t necessarily need a web page to sell your book but it is a good idea to have a presence in an online store. Amazon is our first choice but if it won’t pick up your book, see if the publisher has an online store. If it doesn’t, why did you publish with them in the first place?
4) Facebook is an easy way to keep friends updated on book signings and news surrounding your book. Be mindful and don’t overpost. Every other day, share some news about your book or publicize an event or report how an event went. Subtle reminders are the best approach. Overpost and you are likely to land in the ‘I can’t take it anymore!’ zone—the place where annoying ‘friends’ are sent because they have over- shared inane information, gotten way too religious, or posted non stop about their cat.
5) Go to parties. Yes, party like a rock star, er, author. What I really mean by this is: don’t sit at home hoping someone will find your book. Your book cannot walk or talk so you have to be its voice and its legs. When you are at that holiday party, don’t be afraid to talk about your book. And also talk about the process that went into making it. Talk about what you have learned through writing and publishing it. People have a romantic notion about writing. Take advantage of it. Deep down inside, they want to know how they can get their book published, too.
6) Get some old-fashioned media attention. You know your topic. Is there a reporter who might be interested in what you have written about? (If it is a cookbook, you don’t want to contact the guy who writes the obits.) Once you have found the reporter who matches your topic, you can usually find his/her email address on the newspaper’s website. I would advise against pitching your book via telephone unless you’ve received no response to your emails. But be prepared for them to tell you to ‘Make it quick, I’m on a deadline.’ Which is true, but who needs that sort of pressure?
Your book is your business, literally. You have just created a product. How will you let the world know it exists? This is the question that every business owner must answer, from the gal at the farmers market selling pins made out of corn husks to the owner of Walmart. If you don’t have the energy to sell, re-think the idea of self-publishing; as your success is up to you. Most important, have fun. But leave the clowns at the circus. Nine times out of ten, they are terrifying