I am wary of even describing these as ‘tips’, for I have found publicity to be the most difficult aspect of selling my book. Putting myself forward as better than anyone else (or, at least, that my book is better than anyone else’s and thus worth your money) goes against my nature. Yet I fully recognise that if no-one has heard about me or my book then no-one will buy it!
Many years ago, publicising a completely different event, a friend said to me that we should anticipate 1 person coming to the event for every 100 leaflets handed out. Merely a 1% success rate. Based on that statistic I need to tell 100 people about my book in order to expect 1 person to buy it (let alone read it!). So if I were to have sufficient financial success to be able to give up the day-job I was going to have to tell a LOT of people about my book.
Of course, books have their own market and momentum. If people enjoy books, they pass on their recommendations to others. Many an ultimate bestseller has been a slow-burner, taking time to build up a following through word of mouth. Somehow you have to garner the patience to allow this to (potentially) happen.
It is comparatively easy to clobber your parents/spouse/children into buying your book: the difficulty is in reaching a wider audience. Here are some hints that I have for publicising your book.
1 Tell everyone you know. No-one will buy the book if they haven’t heard that you have published it or where they can get it.
2 Join social media networks – at least Facebook and Twitter. Use them to build your online presence and awareness of your masterpiece. A word of warning though: don’t just use them for book promotion. They are social media. Develop friendships and relationships – these will last even if your book does not!
3 Make use of your local independent bookshop. They will probably be delighted to add your book to their shelves, particularly if it brings in more local customers to their shop. Don’t be put off by the percentage they will ask from each sale: they are the ones whose shop space, heating, opening hours and street presence is allowing your book to be sold.
4 Be as professional as possible in all transactions.
5 Have a launch party. Invite local press and dignitaries, as well as all your friends and family. After all, your book is worth celebrating – right?
6 Create a website or blog. This is your own shop window. You can show off your writing style [note: my book does not include numbered lists of self-improvement suggestions!] and use it to give extracts or sneak previews – anything that will entice others to be interested in your book. It is another form of social media, whereby you can interact with other bloggers and readers. Your site should also include links to Amazon (or other sellers) so people can easily buy your book!
7 Use competitions to promote sales – local and virtual. Can you give a copy as a prize in the school fete? Is someone wanting a giveaway as part of their website?
8 Litter the world with your paraphernalia. You never know which flyer or business card or postcard or bookmark will be picked up and lead to a sale.
9 Do what you are comfortable with, and accept the sales proportionally. If you cannot spend four hours a day writing blog posts, tweets and interacting on the web, don’t berate yourself for failing. It is your book – the beauty of self-publishing! – and your sales and your pride at the end of the day.
10 Write book 2…
Final word of advice: few self-publishers become multi-millionaires. Your success is not in making great sales and huge profits, but in the writing, editing and publishing of your book. In itself that is a massive achievement and something you should be proud of from beginning to end.
What are your tips and experiences of publicising a book?