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Posts Tagged ‘marketing your book’

Last weekend’s author-signing event went surprisingly well, but it was not devoid of lessons to be learned.

I say “surprisingly well” only because of my standard introvert’s dis-ease when facing the public, plus the fact that this was my first signing event in nearly a decade. The fact that I sold any books (and to strangers, no less) was also a surprise. Admittedly, we spent that revenue on books from other authors/artists at the event, but let’s be honest: I don’t do this for the money.

Another entry in the “went well” side of the ledger was using Square for accepting payments. When you consider the fact that a week before the event I had no way to accept credit card payments, Square was an excellent choice. Fast, easy, with a top-notch app and high-confidence from customers, I was able to set up an account, enter my inventory, and get a card reader with a few days to spare. I was also prepared to use Venmo and PayPal, but they weren’t needed, as every customer was very comfortable with using Square.

Aside from these plusses, though, there were a few negatives.

First, I need a “pitch” statement. The author at the next table, J.P. Barnett, was able to sum up his books in a single sentence. (“Two college roommates chase monsters instead of going to class!”) While I’m sure this oversimplified his work, the pitch gave potential customers a quick way to know if his books were something they might enjoy. To be fair, all of J.P.’s books were from the same series, so he only needed One Pitch to Rule them All, whereas my books vary in content, style, and genre. That’s just an excuse, though; hearing J.P.’s pitch and watching his customers’ immediate comprehension of what lay before them showed me the value of a pithy catch-phrase.

I also learned that even though we all say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we all most definitely do. To that point, I had to admit that the second edition covers for my Fallen Cloud Saga were not doing the job (even though minimalism was all the rage a handful of years ago). By far, the busier, more eye-catching covers on my table got the most attention.

The third lesson was that, if you have a series, bring more copies of Books One and Two. I foolishly brought an equal number of all titles, thinking (wrongly) that people would want to buy the whole series. With one exception, what they did buy was just the first in the series. In retrospect, this makes perfect sense; I’m an unknown quantity, and who wants to lay down cash for a series that they might not want to finish. Luckily, I didn’t run out of “first in a series” books, but it was a near thing.

Each February, Page Turner Books puts on a big signing event, which draws about six hundred sf/f readers, all eager to browse and find new authors. That’s about five times the traffic we saw on Saturday, and I’m seriously considering taking a table. There’s a lot of work I need to do, though, based on what I learned.

As I said, my motivation to participate is not financial. I want more readers rather than more bucks, so as long as I cover my costs, I’m happy. Watching people evaluate my titles, noting their reaction to my (admittedly) long-winded descriptions, and then seeing them walk out with one of my books under their arm, well, that’s the point, for me.

Onward.

k

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Write, You Fools!I’m not telling you anything new when I say that the publishing industry has changed a great deal in the last twenty years. However, throughout these decades of upheaval, there are two things I’ve observed that have remained pretty damned consistent:

  1. Writers worrying about how much effort they should put into marketing their books.
  2. Writers’ efforts at marketing their books doesn’t work.

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