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What's Your Biggest Challenge with Your Book?

I'd be interested to learn what authors/publishers on this network think their biggest challenges are with their book. I wonder if there's any common, pervasive challenge we all face.

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marketing!

Wow, what a long thread! I'll really need to go back through this thing and read all the different ideas.

 

Basically, the biggest challenge is getting my books in front of the right eyeballs. I've joined a few communities like this as well as most of the Social Networking sites. I blog regularly on my website - which I try to keep updated with new content.

 

I have a mailing list, I'm devoting funds to ads on blogs, facebook, googleads and such.

 

My books are available pretty much throughout the world in print and electronic media (Kindle, Ipad/Iphone, Nook, etc.).

 

Still, it's a challenge to be an independent author.

 

It's tough to weigh the amount of money you spend marketing a book compared to the return in sales it may result in.

 

I've always believed that if the right set of eyeballs see my books, they'd want them. Getting to those eyeballs is the challenge.

JC,

 

Let us know as you keep exploring ways to market your books. We like to hear what's working and what's not. You'll find a lot of posts on this site from authors about their successes and failures. It's a great place to learn!

 

J. Steve Miller
President, Legacy Educational Resources
Author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It
"The money book for people who hate money books."
http://wisdomcreekpress.com/press_kits.html

The worst thing to do in most cases is to spent money on ads -- unless you can test them. You should be building relationships with high traffic websites that your potential audience is already visiting on a regular basis. And i'm not talking about social networks but real information or entertainment sites with tons of regular visitors.

The best way to create a relationship with them is to offer some free content -- an article, an interview, a regular column, a free book excerpt, etc.

I teach how to do this in my tenmillioneyeballs.com course and in a smaller way in my 15,000 Eyeballs course: http://www.bookmarket.com/15000eyeballs.htm

Great advice John! Can I quote that in my blog/site?

 

I don't believe I've heard anyone on this forum saying, "I bought ads in a magazine or for placement on a site and I sold tons of books as a result!" A big ad, I believe it was in the New York Times, worked for James Patterson with an early (perhaps his first book), but it was a very unusual approach and pretty risky. People don't tend to believe ads. But if we can get mentioned on respected sites/blogs, we've got the endorsement of the people that all the visitors look up to. It just makes so much sense.

 

Oh, I do all that as well (although I don't have an article on the Huff Post, as it were).

 

I took a peek at your page, interesting stuff. I just may investigate it further...I'm always up for new techniques.

My latest book, "Soul Shift," is being marketed as fantasy/visionary fiction as was the first in the series ("EarthShift"), but I've had several people tell me it's great young adult fiction. Now I'm in a quandry. Any advice on how to get feedback? I'm thinking of talking to local high school English teachers, perhaps having a few kids read and comment. Anyone out there interested in reading and giving me input? The main characters are young adults, only one or two swear words, romance but no sex ... and it's an adventure story with a really good message. Many thanks to all.
Wow, what isn't a challenge? Writing the book was easy, it flowed, I typed. First challenge was to get it edited and know that it was edited well...on a budget.
Second challenge was to query agents...I don't like this because I sometimes fail to see the value of an agent. I queried 20 (little did I know I should have queried 120) I did get two personal emails back...keep it up..good work...doesn't fit our list..blah blah. So I self published. Not too bad, quite exciting learning all the industry mechanics.
Third Challenge, marketing...makes my teeth sweat. Couldn't get a bit of help from local bookstores, independent bookstores or any bookstore. Strange to me that indies like us to support them instead of chains, but fail to support local authors???? HOWEVER, not to be undone, my husband and I sold from the trunk of the car...literally. My husband went from town to town in a four county area around our home in N.C. plugging away. In eight months we sold 6000 books.
Fourth Challenge-distribution- we're running out of room to sell without taking overnight trips...however...I queried a couple of publishers with my sales stats and low and behold, I've been picked up by a larger publishing house with great distribution (IPG) Strays, my novel, relaunches in June of 2011 and is going global...Yippeee With their help and contacts, I now have much bigger and better testimonials and endorsements, which helps but...
Fifth Challenge - marketing again. Easier this time because I am published and my distribution is wonderful. Still an unknown author has an uphill fight. But I believe in my book. I think the message and the story is a good one. My readers comments are wonderful. I'm undaunted...anyone that's sold books from the trunk, one at a time, it gets easier. My publisher believes in the book too, another step up the hill.
Writing and marketing your book is THE CHALLENGE with a lot of little challenges along the way. I found that breaking them down into little challenges and just moving forward worked for me. Looking at the big picture is too overwhelming, just plug along doing what comes next. Now I'm combing the internet for anyone that will review, blog or speak about Strays. Setting up a book tour, which has become easy as I have a marketing idea that seems to be readily excepted. So it's getting easier and fun.

Jeanne,

 

Congrats on all you've accomplished. 6,000 books in 8 months is great for any book, but being self-published, that's incredible! I too have been encouraged with the potential for local sales, thinking it's one of the most underrated ways to market books. Can you give us more detail as to how and where you sold in your four county area. Any help would be much appreciated by your fellow authors.

 

And what do you mean you want people who will "review, blog or speak about Strays"? What do you mean by Strays?

Strays is the title of my book, sorry didn't make that clear. I find that being an unknown author I'm better served by going for ground swell. I look for any outlet that reviews books or authors pages etc.

Basically I looked very hard at my target market and refined the list several times. Bookstores were not much help and frankly for word of mouth, it's a poor target for marketing unless your served by a large publisher that spends some promotion money on you...or that's my take anyway. Your spine out in a sea of other books.
So with those bookstore rejections under my belt, we went on to selling from the trunk.

My husband is a retired stock broker with very thick skin and the attitude that they can only say no. Understanding that the biggest readers were woman and of that group in their 40's and that most people that owned pets loved the book, he just started selling in beauty salons, on the street, in businesses that supported those markets etc. He spoke with business owners and sold 4 or 5 books to them and then checked by and refilled as they sold out. He booked signings in pet stores, with rescue groups, humane society events, anywhere our market ate, drank, bought or frequented. I did story telling in campgrounds and spoke at local events. He sold in parking lots and has developed a nose for those that love books. He stuck to areas, the four counties that were in reasonable driving distance to keep cost down and went out everyday....EVERY DAY



As more people read the book, they began to suggest who and where the book might do well. He followed all the leads. If Marge thought Peggy down the street would like the book, he went down the street to Peggy. Those leads lead to events in the area and we sold well at those events. We also experienced alot of multiple sales. If someone read the book, we had many return customers that contacted us on our website...on back of the book and we handed out book marks with each sale...and asked to buy multiple copies. One lady bought ten for friends and family. The usual multiple was 4 or 5 books.

Through this he developed a pretty standard one minute pitch...by watching the reactions of people and noting what clicked with people and what didn't. It wasn't long before he understood what worked and stuck to it.

Setting modesty aside, I will say the book which is inspirational, just clicked with people. They really embraced it and recommended it to friends, so word of mouth worked well. Later when he spoke with someone, they mentioned a friend told them about the book or they had heard about it somewhere else.

There's no magic here, it's just hard work and keeping on keeping on. I will say that knowing your target market and understanding what they do, where they go, what they spend money on was the biggest help in all of this...that and a great husband that doesn't mind stalking parking lots or beauty salons...There is something to be said about being a local author and the support of your community.

I think when authors look at marketing, we tend to look for the big splash, the immediate outcome. Unknown authors have a tough go in a big pond. When it became clear we neither had the budget or the reach to do the big splash, we narrowned down to local. Because of those small pond sales, we could then approach a publisher and it worked. Just don't give up...there is more than one way to sell books.

Jeanne,

 

Wow! Mind if I use this story on a website I'm starting for authors? Of course, I'll link back to your site so people can purchase your book. Also, you mentioned wanting to know sites and blogs that might be interested in a story on strays. My wife, Cherie, has a pet blog that's gotten some pretty serious press. It's http://www.pet-peeves.org . If you reply to one of her posts or contact her through the site, she says she'd love to read the book and review it. 

Wow!  I thought I was having problems in selling and getting noticed. Sorry to hear all this, Theresa. Where the great wide-web has it merits, it sure has detractors.  There seems to be an unwritten code of stifling authors from mentioning their books in certain circles. If one so much as gives a hint - say, just about an upcoming release - SPAM is immediately cried. If sitting in a writer's group, or participating on a book social media site, why CAN'T an author occasionally mention something without being labeled or branded or panned? 

 

We're expected to be open and approachable, courteous to bloggers and reviewers, willing and able to answer any and all questions, graciously accept harsh, stinging personal criticism yet keep out mouths shut about our books. Everybody seems to have their hand out to help authors in the way of PR for a price, but no one is willing to give a 'helping hand'.

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