By John Prince
We were talking about indie book marketing the other day, Nancy and I. The subject crops up every few days in our business.
So… you have a fresh, amazing, new book just published. Great cover! Beautiful typography on the pages. Bold and engaging plot. Contemporary and on trend. Now available on Amazon and ready to go at IngramSpark in bookstores in countries around the world.
Will it sell? No! Not unless you (the author) are prepared to spend thousands, work your tail off for months/years, and play all of the angles.
(An aside: I just watched the Amy Tan documentary. After a 40-city book tour she said that she got home, closed the bedroom blinds, and slept for 24 hours. She was totally exhausted.)
With millions of books on the market and more millions annually, your book gets about one tenth of a nanosecond of “natural” promotion. That’s the hope that someone really influential in the book sales world (Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, etc.) reads your book and likes it and sends it on a rocket to The New York Times list, and so on.
So, enough with the gloom and doom.
Here are three ideas for indie authors that might help sell more books.
The book marketing author consortium.
If you can successfully market one book for $5,000 you could successfully market five same-genre books for $10,000. The cost to each author is much reduced and the group can buy more advertising and promotion space. If the marketing is correctly targeted (sci-fi or romance readers for instance) the message can reach many more people = more sales.
Authors share lists, contacts, the workload, travel and everything. And they have to be willing to have an unwavering Three Musketeers attitude: One for all and all for one.”
The craft fair circuit.
The investment involves some cash and a lot of time. From your booth and inventory in the back of the SUV you follow the county fair circuit throughout the summer and fall, setting up your booth, schmoosing with the locals, and sleeping in a travel trailer.
Several writers I know have done this with reasonable success netting after expenses perhaps $10,000 to $15,000 a season. Best to have a wide variety of books for various ages. Steve and Jolyn Burt have done the circuit and say that it’s both grueling and fun. Also, it’s good if you’re super gregarious and willing to put up with the occasional rainy weekend trying to keep the inventory dry.
Convert your backlist to ebooks now.
Backlist books never die, they just start to look out of date. The cover looks dated, the page type is squishy, and the ISBN doesn’t have a price. Or if there is a price it’s $3.99 for a 300-page mystery.
Convert your print backlist to ebooks and remarket them. In 2020 Americans bought more than 191 million ebooks, an increase of 12.6% over the previous year. Of course. the pandemic may have positively impacted all book sales as people locked down for much of the year. But probably more readers became avid ebook readers, too.
Conversion of a formatted Word document into an ebook is much less than a traditional paperback (Hallard Press charges a basic $350 to convert the Word doc) and allows the author an opportunity to update the manuscript or fix an annoying typo. Libraries, bookstores and consumers are all part of the market. A number of online distributors deal only in ebooks.
Hallard Press will be attending the annual conference of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association at the end of July where several speakers will be discussing additional methods of book marketing. We’ll bring you the latest information in August.