Marketing!!!!! No doubt the biggest challenge. I have been sucessful with getting articles on my topic published including a soul mate quiz I wrote for IVillage, MSNBC. Thinking that would surely boost sales I was elated at the opportunity. But in truth it has done little for the sale of my book. I had more success with smaller New Age magazines. I just started receiving Google alerts on the topic of soul mates and have been commenting on other peoples blogs on the topic. We'll see how that works.
It sounds as though you're doing several things right, Ariadne. You're using your writing to be published in a variety of places. I'm surprised that it hasn't produced better results for you. The Soul Mate Quiz on iVilliage for MSNBC is great exposure.
Through what channels are you selling your book? Can people who read your articles find the book if they're interested? Do you have a distributor? Is that distributor focused on the right retailers? For a book of your genre, New Leaf (www.newleaf.dist.com) may be the best wholesaler. Are you with them? They reach the New Age shops and bookstores.
Commenting on other people's blogs in your field is a very good way to gain exposure for your book. The key to success is selecting the most important blogs. Google Alerts will tell you about posts in your genre. It will not tell you which blogs are the most influential in your genre. To find that out, go to Technorati.com. Plug in your topic and view the results. Look for blogs with large readerships, many links in and frequent posts. Categorize the top blogs so when a Google alert comes from one of those blogs you're sure to comment on it quickly.
I couldn't agree more. Publicity is a daily activity. That's what separates successful authors/publishers from the rest. Surprisingly, it isn't as hard as one might think. If you do five things a day to market your book, then you'll see tremendous results. Five actions a day turns out to be 1825 activities a year (working each day. And who wouldn't if one has a good book?).
I agree Rick F. that publicity and getting distribution are two major (some may say hurdles) opportunities. I have found trying to particiapte or join different types of social groups, clubs and associations are great ways to meet people and share about your book(s), etc. Also if you have a chance to arrange opportunities to speak in any schools-the children may not be old enough to read your particular book but you can simplify the subject and share with them about writing and being an author. Provide them with a handout to be sure they take it home and show their parents. The parents may buy your book. It is best to arrange it when PTA members may be around for a meeting. Meet some parents. My bookstore staff do alot of work with schools by providing teacher training, in class special presentations, etc. It really is great for publicity. Just a few ideas to consider that are not the traditional outlets. Hope it is helpful.
This is an interesting opportunity. What have you tried to get into independent bookstores? Are you available to do events in the independent bookstores?
Competition is fierce between the chains (Barnes & Noble, Borders and Books-a-Million) and the independents. The time was just two years ago when independent bookstores were closing at a rate faster than independents were opening. This trend has stabalized to the point where an equal number of independent bookstores open and close in a year.
Independents need to differentiate themselves from the chains to stay in business. They are more open, therefore, to unique opportunities such as book events by authors; particularly if the author's book solves a need their customers have.
Simply because independent bookstores need to differentiate themselves doesn't mean they are always aware of how to best do that. You may need to be persistent to get the independent bookseller's attention.
It begins by having your book available to the independents. That typically means you must have your book available through distribution. (Indpenedent booksellsers are reluctant to buy books directly from the publisher. They prefer to buy them from a distributor or wholesaler for several reasons; one payee for the checks they write to pay for the books, one central place to send returns - publishing's dirty little secret - and ease of ordering).
Next, you'll need to develop a "hook" to position your bookstore event. Book signings are dead. Who wants to come into a bookstore and approach an author seated behind a card table autographing books (unless you're Stephen King or John Grisham)? Booksellers are looking for excitement to drive foot traffic into the store. Buzz.
On a recent bookstore event, I approached the manager and pitched a presentation on how to self-publish a book. It gave me the chance to describe my experiences, the positive points, the pitfalls and proper expectations. The bookstore manager loved it. We had nine people attend my talk. It drove people into the store for the bookseller.
To support the event, I created a 2 foot by 3 foot poster announcing the event and placed it in the store. The store promoted me to their entire mailing list. I placed an announcement in a local paper and put an ad on Craig's List.
Once you have one successful event in one store, it makes it easier to pitch a similar idea to other booksellers.
Biggest challenge is talking to the author and convincing them that their book will NOT sell hundreds of copies right away. PATIENCE... over time, books sell better because of viral marketing, referrals, book clubs, gift shops... etc. In advertising and marketing, repetition is the key. Once a few people see your book and read it and pass it along or recommend it to friends, the sales WILL happen. But it takes time!
Getting into the big chain stores as a "regular" book they order won't happen until they see you've already proven yourself with sales #s.