It is one thing to write and publish a book, it is quite another to sell it. Self-publishers face an emotional roller coaster through the publishing process, realizing a high when they first see their book in print, followed by a low when they face the challenge of getting their book to potential customers.
Thoughts on marketing your books
Self-publishing authors are responsible for their own marketing. Developing a thorough marketing plan will outline how to achieve your sales goals and help you stay realistic. It is important to create a ‘platform’ for yourself online. ‘Platforming’ is a fairly recent catchword that means developing a presence for yourself online. A facebook page with a large following; maintaining a blog about your topic; getting your name and opinions ‘out there’ on relevant websites: all of this is platforming and a very good way to become more appealing to book buyers. Even traditionally published authors are responsible for developing their own online platform.
An author should write a marketing plan to cover the twelve months following the launch of their book, addressing the following types of questions:
1. Book Sales:
Where will I sell my book?
Options include consigning your book to bookstores and local museums and shops, setting up online sales via Direct From The Author.com, Amazon.ca and other sites, personal sales to your own contacts, finding a book distributor to handle sales for you, attending appropriate fairs and trade shows.
Consigning books to bookstores and/or distributors generally costs you 40%-60% of your book’s cover price. Many self-publishing authors find this discouraging and prefer to sell directly to their customers instead of going through a middle-man.
Should I send out a press release?
Should I organize a book launch event?
Should I arrange some author appearances?
Writing a press release (an announcement of your book) is a great way to start the marketing process. It gives you a ‘calling card’ when you approach book stores and can be attached to any mailings you do. An official-looking press release shows that you are serious in your goals.
Also prepare a ‘sell sheet’ for potential bookstore buyers. You can find samples online.
Try finding some free publicity by tying into local community events, accessing media (radio, newspaper, TV) for applicable interviews, etc.
If you consign your book to a bookstore, the book store may request that you host a book signing in their store. This is a good way to get a feel for the sales and marketing side of publishing, but we find that book signings and appearances do not usually generate many book sales.
How will people find out about my new book?
Should I do any advertising?
Do I need a website?
Again, these questions will be answered by the sales goals you set for yourself. If you can find appropriate advertising opportunities (ie: advertising that is targeted to your specific audience), and the advertising is affordable, then it may make sense for you to pursue it. In general, advertising dollars are best spent trying to target a specific audience (ie: there’s no point advertising a book about hair loss to children).
Websites are a great way to provide in-depth information to potential customers. Webb Publishing currently provides a webpage within our website for each of our authors, and will design this webpage free of charge. We provide sales information for your book, including listings of bookstores hosting an author’s book, as well as author contact information for direct sales. Our website is positioned well in the major search engines, providing a high profile opportunity for our authors. Authors are encouraged to direct potential customers to their webpage on webbpublishing.ca.
Where do I start?
Set a goal for yourself and use the goal to help create your marketing plan. Then you can use your marketing plan to keep you on track and avoid options that don’t meet your marketing goal.
As stated in other sections of this website, Webb Publishing feels that an appropriate starting goal for a new self-publishing author is recovery of cost and the satisfaction of seeing your book in print.
Traditional Book Marketing
For those interested in pursuing the traditional route of pitching your manuscript to a bigger publisher, you will need to find a book agent. A book agent will attempt to sell your idea to a large, traditional publisher. Please be warned that there are many online agents that will take you on as a client, but not many who will bring you results. If you can find a reputable agent that is serious about promoting your book, then congratulations and best of luck. Payment is usually on a percentage basis. Agents attend trade shows and work with their publishing industry contacts to promote your project.
A little background about the world of traditional publishers: Webb Publishing worked with a professor with 40 best-selling textbooks to his name. It was an insightful experience. Of the 40 books he has in print, he was not involved in the production of any of them once his manuscript was finished. He received royalties of approx 10% and a copy or two of his books for his personal library. He told us that new professors are often receiving only 6% commission in today’s market. It seems to us that self-publishing isn’t such a bad idea after all.
We are happy to provide estimates for the following marketing services: press releases, posters, sell sheets, business cards, personal web site development, planning sessions, and more. Webb Publishing has many years of media marketing experience and is happy to share our knowledge with an author during the marketing planning stages.
In Direct From The Author, Webb Publishing now provides authors with a place to sell their books. Please visit the site today to start selling your books.