At this time of year there is a multitude of events which could fill our calendars. The chance to meet readers in person and to sell books for Christmas gifts is a pleasure. Explaining how our stories developed, what we know about the characters and their journey and how we hope the story transports our readers is a special opportunity.
Even if sales are slow, you have reached readers you would not otherwise have met and that is worth your time. On the flip side you may have the opposite ‘problem’ and run out of books to sell. This is where a business card with your links on it are a bonus. Hand them out and let people know your books are available at other places, such as bookstores, libraries and online. You might not get that immediate sale, but there is potential for sales another time.
With so many events on the same weekends, it is difficult to know which one(s) to attend. It is a lottery of sorts. Even if an event doesn’t have super traffic, it is still an opportunity to connect with other authors and artisans. The bonus being you pick up some individually crafted items, rather than from a box store or retail.
I was so happy to find a ladder planter for my deck and a beautiful Xmas decoration at the last event I attended.
I accompanied my publisher, Dream Write Publishing to Jasper, Alberta on Saturday for booklovers weekend. Most weekends are book lovers weekend’s, I’m sure you would agree, but this was a special event and I was happy to participate.
Our generous host, Habitat for the Arts arranged our tables in the foyer. We had some fantastic chats with visitors and book sales too. Marianne also gifted us ceramic lanyard’s made by local artisans.
I donated my books to the library and received a lovely thank you card and chocolate! Remember, you can always request any of my books from your local library.
What is your motivation for writing? There are as many reasons to write as there are genres. We may want to persuade, catalog or inform on ‘real’ events or topics but many of us (fiction authors) want to entertain. It is an author’s purpose, to bring to life a concept.
So let’s look at each scenario for motivation:
a) Money – we would all love to be a best seller and have fame and fortune like the ‘big’ names, such as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and the like. However, we need to be realistic – firstly can we manage to get a publishing contract with a big publishing house? How many years are you willing to wait for that? If you use the self-publishing route how much of your time (unpaid) can you sacrifice for promotion? Should you give your work away? Is the income enough to live on? Could your writing supplement your lifestyle?
If you determine that the net income (we all need to report it in tax season!) is a nice bonus for a treat here and there, rather than your sole income – it will take the stress out of the equation.
b) Success – once again we should temper our expectations. Global sales are a dream we want to make real but maybe measure our success on more of a local level. Do you have your books in local bookstores, the library, offered at local events? The more you attend and promote within your own locality the more your ‘success’ becomes tangible. Articles in the local newspaper could have people approach or question you in regard to your being an author. Social media allows us to expand our locality, of course, but starting small will give you a firm basis from which to start. Never under estimate the power of word of mouth for promotion.
c) Satisfaction – Although this is third on the list, I feel it is the most important of all, as having your words, ideas and stories readily available for people to read now and for future generations, is the penultimate success. Our narratives will be enjoyed and relayed long after we are gone. It is our legacy.
Obviously, in an ideal world, a mixture of all three of the above would be the perfect scenario.
What is your motivation?
What do you consider the most satisfying part of being a writer/author?
What do you consider essential for your writing zone? It may not be the same as everyone else, so firstly let’s take a look at my desk (the one above).
Firstly, I have a laptop and second screen – this enables me to utilize two screens for editing purposes with beta-reader and publisher suggestions and edits. It is easier than splitting one screen to read two full pages.
Secondly, there are numerous note books and folders/binders of relevant information, event details, contact sheets, and freelance clients contracts. Yes, I am rather obsessed with organization – I put my hands up to that! As you can see I have several desk organizers for said items all labeled, storage is key to having information at your finger tips.
Next is ‘fuel’ – water and tea! What do you favour for hydration?
You may have noticed the propensity for purple – yes it is my favorite colour. Purple wall, crystals and water bottle to name a few. It is interesting that when I looked up the meaning of the colour purple there were key words relevant to my writing. Maybe there is a deeper force at work than we know, when it comes to our colour choices.
Color Meaning: Meaning of The Color Purple. … The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.
Light sources are also an important choice – I have the normal ceiling light and natural light from the window but a spotlight disperses shadows so I have a clean and clear view of my screens.
Storage is key and yes I have several spaces just for it. The storage tower holds business cards, promotional items, paper, filing supplies, and more.
The cupboard has books, more promotional material, such as an event banner, card holders, table coverings and larger promotion items as well as books.
Yes, I am lucky to have this space but bear in mind I started using the dining room table as my writing space. It took me nearly seven years to get to this. Maybe you don’t need this kind of writing area – anywhere can be a creative zone after all. When I go on writing retreats I use a folding table and write on the hotel bed or desk. (And even at home). As long as there is room for a laptop or notebook we can write anywhere.
As writers and authors, we are formidable in our ability to create narratives but we also have to learn how to market the ‘end product’ of those many months or even years of creativity. We become a book business.
The first avenue many authors take is social media, which can be seen as a ‘soft’ option. After all we are not up close and personal with the public but at arm’s length. However, due to the countless sites available just choosing the ‘right’ one or two can be overwhelming. Then there is the matter of maintaining our ‘presence’ on each platform. We need to research which avenues of promotion will work best not just for our genres but also our ability to sustain them. Do your research on similar authors in your genre and see what they use (and of course ‘follow’ them).
2. Following selected authors, genre based bloggers, book reviewers, and writing groups allows you to gain followers but also to learn about your particular genre and gain a reader base. When someone is interested in your genre they ‘search’ for more posts, articles, links and books within that specific field. While you are doing that follow 10 ‘friends’ of friends on Facebook and 100 people on Twitter – this can gain a wider audience. However, in light of these two platforms losing participants also follow people on Instagram. (We have to keep up with the ‘in’ thing!)
3. Improve your author bio on all platforms to entice and inform as many followers as possible on all sales sites, your blog and social media platforms. Ask yourself – does it reflect you as a writer as well as a person.
4. Use hashtags specific to writing, authors, books, genre and associated links – look at what other authors use.
5. Then there is the personal touch, which means organizing or being involved in author readings, attending book events and participating in Q&A panels. Search your local area for book related events, get to know your local bookstores, inquire at your library, join a local writing group, the wider your reach the easier it will be to find avenues of sale for your book.
6. Merchandise is another way of promoting your book. It can be as simple as custom bookmarks to T-shirts with the book cover/main character on the front. Make up a prize basket for a contest to be collected at an event (good photo opportunity to use on social media) or create an online contest for a free autographed copy of your book.
7. An easy promotion is to leave five of your author business cards in local businesses, at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, or anywhere you visit on a regular basis. Many places have community boards too so pin some cards or a poster of an event you are attending there too.
Do you have any promotion tips you would like to share?