Marketing My Self Published Book: A first-time author’s journey

First things first

Before any public appearances, clarify your on-line/social media message.  Who are you? What is your book about? Is it funny? Romantic? Dramatic? Does your book reflect your passions? Your message should be in your on-line presence. I have a website, an author Facebook page, and a twitter account.  That’s where readers go to learn about me and my novel, KINGSLEY.

Getting Book Signings on the Calendar

Indie Bookstores are a great place for indie authors.  But, be forewarned, they sometimes have problems with selling self-published… and they have a good reason: Amazon is their biggest competitor.   This can be a problem is you are using Create Space to print your book.

ON THE OTHER HAND…. Independent coffeehouses that also sell books are very accommodating and lots of fun.  Owners and managers are always looking for events to bring people in.  And customers in coffeehouses are looking for reading material.  Even if customers don’t buy my book right away, I’ve told them about my novel and given them a flyer.

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Generally my take  from the book sales is split 80-20 (I get 80%, they get 20%), especially if they are processing credit cards. But keep in mind that the purpose of this book signing isn’t just about the money.  The real purpose is to get your name and book out there.  Expand your reach to different geographical areas if you can afford the time and cost of travel.

How to make contact

Stopping in the coffeehouse for a drink and a bite to eat is the best introduction!   See the set up and talk to the staff.  Perhaps even talk with the manager.  If you can’t talk face to face, most coffeehouses have websites. Send them an email!  Here is an example:

Hi Nick,

I am a local author- I live in Charlottesville-and I was wondering if Milli Joe’s is interested in hosting a book signing. I would take care of publicity and would bring everything needed.

My novel is set in Virginia – including Charlottesville- so there is lots of local interest.

I hope we can work out a date.

Thank you very much,
Carolyn O’Neal
Carolynoneal@comcast.net

Say you get something like this in response:

Hi Carolyn,

Glad to hear you’re interested in hosting your signing at Milli!  I’m definitely very interested, we’ve hosted a couple in the past & I really enjoy this kind of thing.  We do have to be somewhat selective in booking these events to make sure they send the kind message we can get behind as an organization.  Could you tell me a little about the book?  Thanks!
Nick
Now the ball is back in your court:
Hi Nick,
Thank you so much for getting back to me.  I am an environmentalist so I usually write ecologically-themed fiction.  KINGSLEY is the title of my novel.   It’s set in Virginia (including Charlottesville) and centers on a 14 year old boy (named Kingsley) facing an environmentally driven pandemic. Comparable titles would be Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy in that KINGSLEY starts in the present and ends around 40 years in the future.   I would recommend KINGSLEY to readers 14 years old or older.  I does have some complex science but no explicit sex or violence.
You can read more about KINGSLEY, including reviews, on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/28PfNhL
I’ve attached the flyer that I hand out at book signings.  You’ll notice that there’s a bee on the cover.  I tell people stopping by my table that in KINGSLEY,  I have taken the real world devastation of the honeybees and moved it up the food chain to humans.  This usually get their attention.  Everyone walks away with something from my table, whether it is a book, flyers from my favorite environmental groups, or insight into how they can help preserve the honeybees.
I’m flexible on date and time for the book signing.
Best regards,
Carolyn O’Neal
Set the Date and Time for this book signing and start the process again for your next book signing.

Note: This is where some prep work comes in handy.  I mentioned handing out flyers at book signings.  Flyers are also a good to give to the coffeehouse manager as an introduction to you and your book.  They should tell readers something about your book, including the cover, and contact information.

Single flyer

Drop off flyers at the coffeehouse a week before the book signing so customers will know you’re coming.  Be sure your social media is ready so customers can read about you and your book in advance.  Contact local newspapers and post your book signing on their events calendars.  Post the event on all your social media and ask friends and family to share.  Send emails about the event to everyone you know and tell everyone you see.

Finally, be prepared for whatever happens, whether you sell all the copies of your book or none at all.  You’ve spread the word and sharpened your pitch.   Pick yourself up and contact another coffeehouse and set another date.

Practice, practice, practice.

Prepping for your book signing….  Coming in my next blog post