book marketing

Who’s Selling My Books?

For those of us who self published, we took on the responsibility of marketing our books. Whether or not they get noticed falls on our shoulders and it’s a daunting task.  It’s kind of like hoping someone will notice a single snowflake in a blizzard.

wp_ss_20160320_0006I pulled up my book on Amazon and realized that other sellers are offering it as low as $5.15.  To be honest, I can’t really figure out how that is happening especially since nearly all my sales have been e-Books and Amazon is getting it directly from CreateSpace.

Locally, my paperbacks are available in a couple of stores and at festivals that I attend.  I realize that the world is small but I can’t imagine how one of those books have ended up across the ocean and as far away as India.

What I know is this – I keep a small number of books on hand. There hasn’t been a huge printing because I’m the publisher and unlike big publishing houses, my printing budget is quite limited.

question

Hmmm…

I wouldn’t have a problem with finding my book in a used book store or at a yard sale. I figure I’ve been paid and the buyer is free to do with it what they will.  Okay – I’d rather it not end up in a bonfire…

But if it does, hopefully someone from the press is covering the burning…

I just have to assume that I’ve been paid for the books these online sellers are offering.

Being self published, I don’t know or understand all of the contractual details between writers and their publishing houses.  I haven’t a clue as to how they work out the difference with books that don’t sale.  It’s something I’ve never given much thought to until recently.

At my local Dollar Store, books – both hard and soft covers – can be purchased for (drum roll please) $1.00.  I always assumed these books were out of print, that instead of the publisher sending the books to be shredded/recycled, they chose to sell them for cents on the dollar – hoping to recoup some of their investment.

On a whim, I purchased three books.  Two were hard covers, one was a paperback.
When I got home, I visited Amazon and received quite the surprise.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness was available in either print and or e-Book.  With only 20 paperbacks left in stock, I feel pretty safe in assuming that the publisher has essentially removed the book from print and perhaps tried to recoup some of their investment.

Shame by Greg Garrett was available only as an e-Book. (Other online sellers were offering it for as low as $0.01 plus shipping.)

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Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan:  Amazon had 16 paperbacks left in stock. Like the other books, private sellers were offering it for as low as a penny (plus shipping).wp_ss_20160320_0005

That’s the thing, just because a book is out of print doesn’t mean it’s out of print as far as e-Books go.  And while I don’t have a dog in this particular fight, it does seem a bit unfair to the authors that their hard cover/paperbacks are being sold for a buck and they aren’t being compensated.

I guess you have to consider the potential trade-off. A reader who isn’t familiar with an author and buys his/her book from a dollar store and likes what they read, might be more likely to purchase another book or e-Book at full price. In a way, its kind of like a weird marketing plan. The same might be applied to used book stores and online sellers. Maybe dropping $10.00 on an e-Book written by an unfamiliar author is out of the question for some readers.  Whereas, we might be more inclined to pay that price for a book written by someone we trust to tell a good story. Seriously, it’s that line of thinking that has many authors choosing to offer a book for free.

As for the online sellers offering my books – they probably aren’t having much success. It’s hard to compete with  a 99 cents e-Book.  And while my books aren’t free, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m virtually unknown. I’m just holding onto the hope that someone notices this snowflake in the blizzard of published books.

-Deb

 

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BOOK SIGNINGS, PAPERBACKS, AND YOUR LOCAL MARKET

Carol Ann Ross, C. Evenfall, & MeOur group selfie - Book Signing 02-13-16On Saturday,  I joined authors Carol Ann Ross and C. Evenfall for a book signing event at The Mermaid’s Purse in Surf City, N.C.  The weather was a little nippy. Okay, I’m lying.  It was downright cold & the winds coming off the Atlantic were brutal.  Good thing our table was inside!

Beach towns have a tendency to become ghost towns  in the winter and considering the weather, we were afraid no one would venture out.  Lucky for us, there were a few brave souls. I think we all had a wonderful time.

In the digital age, don’t discount the paperback:

There’s an old saying that goes something like this – He’s a big fish in a little pond.  In the ocean that is Amazon, I figure I’m something akin to plankton. When it comes to my local pond, I’m certainly not the biggest fish, but I’m not snail sludge either.

My books: I chose to publish e-Books as well as paperbacks.  (And I’m thinking about trying an audio with the next one.)  On Amazon, the e-Books sell, the paperbacks -not so much.  The profit margin on the e-Books is pretty slim.  I’ll have to sell a lot of them to quit my day job.

This is why I like paperbacks:

It’s hard to participate in a book signing event if I don’t have a physical copy of my book. Let’s face it – nobody wants me signing their Kindle.

I live in a vacation area.  Visitors like buying books by local authors.  Having said that – locals like supporting locals, too.  Not only do I have books in local shops, I’ve found participating in community events like craft shows and Holiday festivals are a great way to not only get my name out there, but to sell books.  The truth of the matter is this:  When we’re talking money – my local sales out perform my internet sales.  Maybe one day that won’t be the case but for now, it is what it is.

Looking at my KDP report isn’t exactly exhilarating, but selling several books at a local festival – that rocks! And getting a monthly check for the books sold at a local store isn’t too bad, either.

My advice:

If you’re not finding the success you’d hoped for on Amazon, etc.,  don’t overlook the value of your local market.

 

 

 

 

So You’re Booking A Virtual Book Tour?

Imagine if you will:

You’ve published your novel.  Your mom, sister and best friend have purchased it. Your cousin smiled and asked for a free copy while your neighbor has studiously avoided you since you announced your happy news.

Your sales report from KDP is nothing short of humbling.

Now what?

You’ve checked into several options and seeing as how your marketing budget is quite limited.  You’ve decided to take your book on tour – a virtual tour.

STOP!

Before you go any further, before you sign on the dotted line, let me share a little of my experience as both a touring author and hosting blogger…

thinkingClose your eyes and picture yourself sitting at a table in your favorite bookstore.  There’s a line of people eager to meet you, patiently waiting for you to sign their copy of your novel. Of course, you smile.  You schmooze. You pull out your trusty pen and you sign your name with a flourish – just as you’ve practiced so many times before.

Now:  Open your eyes and let’s talk about your virtual book tour.  Because while they are much the same, they are uniquely different. Instead of a line of people physically standing in front of you, there will be countless people sitting in front of their computer screens.

First:  Do your homework.  Make sure that the tour organizer you’ve selected is a good fit for your book.  This is easy enough to figure out. Sometimes, you can tell just by the name.  (ex:  Deb’s Chic Lit Tours) Other times,  the name won’t give you a clue. (ex: Deb’s Virtual Book Tours) This is when you need to look at the books that are currently touring and those that have previously toured.  Is your book’s genre well represented? If so, go a step further.  Visit the host sites.  Note the visits/interaction on the site or the lack there of. Remember: It’s up to each individual blogger to sign up to host your book. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to be featured on a site with heavy traffic. However, a blogger who wants to increase their traffic is going to do their best to help generate views by sharing the post on various social media sites.

Next:  After you’ve selected your tour organizer – you will receive requests for book excerpts, author interviews and guest posts.  Meet the requirements.  If a blogger is willing to participate with your tour, offering you space on his/her blog – then kindly oblige with the requested guest post or interview.

Finally:  This is important.  Be selective in the dates you choose as tours are time consuming.  Just like with a face to face book signing, virtual book tours require that the author be present.  This can get tricky especially when juggling jobs, families and other obligations.

On occasion, I participate with virtual book tours as a host.  What I’ve seen has left me scratching my head.  I share a post featuring the author and their novel.  My readers comment with things like:  This sounds interesting!  Or Sounds like my kind of book!  

And the author’s response:  imagine

Seriously?  Potential readers are being ignored.

While the author has paid for the tour, he/she must remember that is more of an organizational fee.  It isn’t the hosts job to sell your book.  The hosts offer you, the author, a seat at the table, a place at the podium, a little time in the spotlight. But – it’s up to the you to take advantage of the opportunity.

How?  That’s easy:

*Stop by and thank the host for having you on their blog.  (You may have to get up a little earlier than usual to make that early morning visit.)

*Check in periodically through out the day.  (Lunch, breaks, after work)

*Share the post on your social media sites.

*Enlist the help of family and friends by asking them to follow your tour and share the posts.

*AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE – Acknowledge the comments!  Those comments were made by people who found something interesting about the book, interview, etc. Failing to do so isn’t any different than getting up and walking away from that table in your favorite book store, paying no attention to those folks in line.

ChirpDon’t forget – The people who take the time to read the posts and comment are potential book buyers…

And ultimately, isn’t that the point of doing a virtual book tour?

Book Covers – Getting It Right

Of Dreams and Shadow, book coverIt’s been almost a year and a half since I published my first novel.  I love my cover.  The graphic designer worked up something that was not only beautiful but unique.  I loved how she incorporated the forget me not with the shadowy background.

The one thing I worried about was that the cover didn’t actually scream Young Adult.  Everything I had read about design discouraged having a person on the front cover (think Divergent, Twilight, and The Hunger Games) so, I chose to follow that advice.

Now – I’m not so sure.

I’ve recently had a new cover designed.  I think the designer did a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the story.

ODAS200x300Before I decided to go through with the change, I asked multiple people which cover they preferred. Without fail, each person chose the new cover.   I don’t know whether it will help my book sales but I thought it was worth a try.

What about you?  Have you changed covers? If so – do you think it helped?

Book Trailers – What Do You Think?

This post first appeared on my previous blog in August, 2013.   (Updated: May 18, 2016)

Bing Images: Monday Movie Madness @ North Channel 750 x 937 · jpeg · hcpl.net

Bing Images:
Monday Movie Madness @ North Channel
750 x 937 · jpeg · hcpl.net

As a writer of young adult fiction, I was interested in having a book trailer.  I have teen-aged children so I see daily how much they are on their computers – whether on social media sites or watching videos/listening to music from sites like YouTube.  I did the research – looking at the pros and cons of book trailers and found it to be inconclusive.  Some people raved about it – others not so much.   I realize that books aren’t movies but movie trailers entice me – offering tantalizing glimpses at the product being sold.  The same goes for deodorant or cleaning products.  We see the commercial and BAM! – we decide we need to buy the advertised product.   We are visual people and a book trailer is nothing more than a commercial meant to entice potential buyers.

I spent hours looking for production companies and realized that one of the companies I most liked was out of my price range.   My first choice was a company out of Atlanta, GA called Book Candy Studios.  Wow!  Their trailers are awesome!  But awesome comes with a price tag of about $1,000.00.  As a self published author, I don’t have access to a marketing department or unlimited funds.  I have to decide where I’m going to get the most bang for my buck. If I had an extra grand in my budget, I’d have chosen them.   Their link:  Book Candy Studios   UPDATE:  Book Candy Studios now offers trailer packages starting at $599.00.   For those authors interested in a more budget friendly option that still offers the excitement and feel of a cinematic trailer, the Book Candy Nibble is worth checking out.

My next choice was a company called Ghostwriter Extraordinaire. They offer packages that range from $99.00 to $199.00 which I thought was very reasonable.  In fact this was the company that I initially decided to use. You can check out their videos at:  Ghostwriter Extraordinaire

If your budget permits, Red 14 Films offers cinematic quality trailers and even if you can’t afford to purchase one, they are worth watching.

There were companies that offered videos at a cost somewhere between the above mentioned companies.  There were also companies that offered trailers for very nominal fees.

During my search, I found an article about making your own book trailer.  I wish I could remember the blog it was featured on, but try as I might, I can’t find it.  I have searched the web looking for the particular post with no luck.  The article suggested using Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Movie Maker.  It also suggested using an online video maker like Animoto.

I decided to give it a try.  At the worst, I would have lost the time I spent trying to make the trailer.  At best, I’d be happy with the product and would have saved a little money.  I choose to use Animoto.  After playing around on their site, I decided to purchase one of their upgraded options.  I’m glad I did.   It took a little time to come up with my “script” because the video maker limits the number of characters on any given frame.  Then there were the pictures.  I knew how I wanted the video to “feel.”  Fortunately, my sister owns a great camera and was willing to help me get the photos I wanted.  If you’re not much of a photographer, you can find images at iStock or Shutterstock.  Animoto has a good selection of background music and I felt like the piece I selected helped set the tone for the video.

So this is the book trailer I created using Animoto’s video maker.  Take a look – it may be something you’d like to try:

Since making this book trailer, I have made three others.  I’m not at all convinced that they’ve helped with my sales but I have enjoyed creating them.

Post Updated: February 17, 2015.