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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Help! Which Way Do I Go?

Fork in the roadI’ve come to that proverbial fork in the road and I don’t know which way to go.

When Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not (Book 1) was published in September 2013,  I immediately started work on the sequel.  But by January, 2014, Britney and Michael had popped in my head.  Their story took over and in July, 2014, The Reason’s Why (e-book) was published.   The paperback followed in September.   The Wretched Life of Maxine J Mattocks, a novelette, is being published in episodes on Wattpad and my blog.

My dilemma:

  • It is now December – 15 months since the first book was published.
  • I’ve written about 12,000 words of sequel.
  • Writing the sequel feels like a chore.
  • Part of me wants to stop working on it and maybe get a new cover for Dreams (taking off the Forget Me Not: Book 1)
  • The first book could have been a stand alone story.  At this point, I wish I had decided to do just that…

It’s frustrating. 

In the past, I’ve been a “pantzer”.   I like the spontaneity and the creative flow that happens between the characters and myself.   With the sequel, I decided to be a “planner” – to use an outline.  Is it possible that’s the problem? It didn’t seem so at the time.  In fact, I thought it was helping.   Maybe my problem has less to do with my writing process and more to do with my emotional connection to the story.  It’s not that I don’t love the characters.  It feels more like I’ve outgrown them – if that makes any sense at all.

Is it possible to rekindle the flame for Book 2?

writer's blockI know the importance of having sequels follow as quickly as possible especially with the whole marketing thing.  I get that I’m behind the power curve and honestly, that just adds on another layer of frustration.  And then, when I get the chance to write, I sit in front of my laptop – I type, delete, type, delete… It’s amazing that I’ve managed to move forward at all.

And then there’s other distractions…

Like the new characters who have stopped by to introduce themselves.  They want their stories told.  But the longer I ask them to hold on, the less often they visit and that worries me.

So now you know… 

When I talked to my husband about this, he got that “deer in the headlights” look.   I got a lot of hemming and hawing and nothing else.  And that is why I’ve turned to you – because maybe you’ve been in this same spot or know someone who has.  Even if you haven’t, maybe a fresh set of eyes can see the better path. Either way, your  thoughts and experiences would be so appreciated.

It’s All About Getting Noticed

book girlPublishing my first novel was one of the most important moments in my life.  It signified the fulfilment of a life-long dream.  I had climbed the mountain and reached the top.  Like many newly published writers, I was floating in a cloud of euphoria – convinced that everyone would love my story.   I’m sure you can understand my frustration when the hallowed halls that is Amazon barely registered an echo of my arrival.  At first, I visited my KDP dashboard daily – monitoring my sales.  In all honesty, there wasn’t many and most of those were probably from people in my local area – family, friends, etc.   When my dream of overnight success didn’t come true, I finally grasped the reality of my situation.  It didn’t matter how wonderful I thought my story was – I lacked name recognition.   My author platform was probably more akin to a board and a couple of nails.

Marketing Madness:  Yes.  I became infected.  I scoured various blogs looking for marketing advice.  I was the snake oil salesman’s dream.  If you offered me the cure for my lagging sales, I was buying!   I tried this.  I tried that.  I tried the other thing, too.  For all that effort, I did learn something:   As a newly published writer, I was picking my way through uncharted territory.  After trying various marketing tips, I realized that there is no “one size fits all” plan.

There were things I did that helped.  I went on tour (blog tours) as well as listing my book on some promotional sites.  Some worked better than others.  My e-book sales increased.  However, 70% of $2.99 isn’t all that much.  Multiply that by a few sales and my net profit still wasn’t anything to write home about.

While e-books are great, having a physical book to sell has its own benefits.  One of those being the ability to remove the middle man thereby increasing the profit margin.  Local festivals are a great venue for selling books.   I try to choose events that I feel are “book friendly.”  I consider the cost of the table – as in how many books I need to sell to break even.  I also consider the average number of people who will attend the festival.  Even if I don’t make a sale, being seen and getting my name out has its own value.   It’s like purchasing advertising.   Let’s say that an event draws 5,000 people and a space at that event goes for $100.00 – that breaks down to an advertising cost of 2¢ per person.

Not everyone is going to want a paperback.  Some people are dedicated to their reading device – that’s why I have business cards with a picture of my book, the ISBN, and a listing of where the e-book can be purchased.  Business cards are inexpensive to hand out – and while not everyone is going to follow through and purchase the e-book, it has been my experience that some will.

The holidays are approaching.  If you haven’t tried selling at an area festival, think about it.  I’ll admit to feeling a bit out of my comfort zone.  Ideally, I’d love to write and have someone else do the selling. However, that isn’t my reality.  For now, I’m a one woman publishing team!