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Marketing - Creating Sales
by Lee Masterson
Many authors begin their publishing journey with the belief that every book must be distributed through traditional channels in order to be noticed, and therefore successful. Following this path, however, may lead you to the unhappy discovery that your books are not selling as well as you may have hoped.
The good news here is that many indirect and non-traditional methods can actually work better than the old traditional methods for some writers. As long as you take a little time to prepare for the launch of your book before its release date, that is.
Before you embark on your self-publishing venture, create, plan and implement your book's "marketing strategy". Know how and where you're going to sell your books before you write them. Then you can be sure of making some money back in a hurry to cover printing some more to cover all the sales you've already made.
Go and find out where your readers are, and sell directly to THEM! Do they hang out in clubs, groups, forums??
You mean you don't know this already? You needed to know your target market before you wrote one single word. Go find them NOW. Market your book directly to them. Tell them they get bigger discounts ordering direct, rather than paying full retail through a bookstore...
Word Of Mouth
Recently, I read a book written by a best-selling non-fiction author. He said Word-Of-Mouth was instrumental in creating sales for his books.
Word-of-Mouth is a direct referral for your work from someone who has already enjoyed and reaped the benefits of your work. If your audience create a 'buzz' about what they read last week, you can be sure people will want to see for themselves what the talk is about.
There are lots of other things you can do to get people talking about your and your work.
Download Peggy Tibbetts' free ebook "Word-of-Mouse" (http://www.fictionfactor.com/marketingfreebies.html) Peggy offers many suggestions for creating a good word-of-mouth trail for your work.
Seth Grodin's "Unleashing the Idea Virus" is also extremely helpful. (http://www.fictionfactor.com/marketingfreebies.html)
Join chat groups and mailing lists on topics surrounding what your book is about. Become an active member of a writing community or workshop. Participate in group activities and conversations. People will begin to notice you.
Network with people who understand what you are going through - they're more likely to offer advice and assistance that those people who think you're going about things the 'hard' way.
Create a signature line for all your emails and join several mailing lists/discussion groups. Make sure the discussion groups are on a relevant topic to the subject your book covers. NEVER bring up the subject of books - unless someone asks you directly. Then you can give your entire *practised* sales speech, but unless someone asks, let your signature line say it for you.
If your signature-line is done correctly, you should begin to get queries. Please don't be amateur about this and SPAM people. (SPAM = Sending unsolicited emails) And don't push the 'hard sell'. People don't want to be constantly told "Buy my book - the answer to your question is in there." Be realistic about helping people and answering their questions. Your signature line will do the rest for you.
Send out copies of your book to be reviewed. Some publications will be happy to pick them up. Many online 'zines review books from new authors. Your local paper almost always will - they love the local-author angle.
Read Peggy Tibbetts' helpful article "Word-Of-Mouse" right here on Fiction Factor for a listing of places accepting books for review: http://www.fictionfactor.com/guests/wordofmouse.html
Ring the bookstores within easy traveling distance from home and arrange book-signings. Ask the manager if you can pre-sign a couple of copies of your book to leave with him. Signed books can't be returned, which means the bookstore will actually have to push to sell them.
Bookclubs will occasionally take stock from self-published authors. This can be a great source of sales.
Amazon.com WILL accept a listing for your book. They have a program (Amazon Advantage program). Be aware that this is not always a great option. Amazon will take 55% of the list price as their commission for selling your book for you. This means you have two options - accept a smaller profit margin on sales through Amazon, or raise the sale price to cover the amount of commission they take.
It's great to get listed with Amazon, but it will do you no good if no one visits the page your book is on. Get that link out in the public NOW by adding it to your signature line!
Create a professional website/storefront for your books. Offer useful or helpful information on a topic similar to what your book is about to keep visitors coming back for more. If people like the tid-bits you offer there, they're more likely to pay money for the whole product.
Don't forget to promote your website. Done properly, it can be a valuable sales tool. Maintain and update regularly.
Make it easy for your visitors to find their way around your site. Make it even easier for them to purchase goods.
Search for online agencies allowing you to accept credit cards for sales made on your site. There are several of these around for little or no cost. Research which ones you feel comfortable working with.
Offer alternatives for your readers to make payments. (PayPal is a popular option)
The easier it is for them to purchase your goods, the more likely it is that they will part with their hard-earned cash.
Why not get your readers to sell your work for you? An affiliate program is where someone sells your books for you, receiving a commission on each sale made. Wouldn't you prefer to see hundreds of sales coming in from advertising work you didn't have to do?
There are plenty of affiliate tracking systems available these days - some free, others charging a small fee to cover handling costs.
Try Free-filiate.com or Commission Junction or ClickBank. Read their terms carefully and choose one you are comfortable with. Then advertise to other site owners about how they can earn money for their own website with your new affiliate program by selling your work!
I've only covered some basics here. There are many, many things you can do to promote a book for sale, and I've listed only a few. The main thing to remember is: be professional in your approach. Make sure your product is as professional as you can possibly make it, and persist. If one avenue doesn't succeed, try another. And even if that one avenue DOES succeed, try some more anyway! More sales are always a good thing!
You can find more promotion tips for online marketing here: http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/onlinepromo.html
And some more for offline marketing here: http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/offlinepromo.html
© Copyright 2002 Lee Masterson.
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