Getting Published, Marketing
Posted by Bruce Hennigan
When the book is released, this is when the real work begins.
Oh, my, but this is the hardest part for me. I’m not a spring chicken. I don’t follow Facebook or Meta or whatever it is called with regularity. I don’t tweet. I have an instagram account but I mainly look for recipes. I don’t Tik Tok or Snapchat or chit chat, etc.
But, if you want to sell books you’ve got to become an expert in all of these social media tools. In fact, you might want to consider paying someone to help you learn how to handle social media and I would once again point you to Joanna Penn’s site “thecreativepenn.com“.
This is absolutely essential. And, there are many reliable services that will help you build a website. The decision point is whether to have just a blog from which you can link your books to Kindle, Nook, and Apple Books, for instance, OR an e-commerce site which you will have to handle. That means selling and shipping your books yourself. Either requires a LOT of work on a DAILY basis and a big commitment to fulfilling your promises.
You can advertise on websites, Google, magazines, etc. I have found this is totally ineffective for me. I have NEVER sold a book through an advertisement. That doesn’t mean it won’t work. It just doesn’t work for me.
Marketing Campaign Companies
They are out there. BookPros, of which I spoke earlier, started out purely as a book promotion company then added self-publishing. They taught me a lot about marketing. But, they are now gone. I hired one marketing firm for a fee of around $25,000 to promote my second book that came out from Realms. They set me up for almost 50 online interviews with “blog talk radio”. I have a story about one of those sites that is chilling and harrowing. I found myself on a site that instantly put me in a live debate with a gamer who took issue with my claims made in my marketing statement that “internet content can affect the way you think and therefore, might be dangerous.” Even though I had lots of sound statistics to back me up, these gamers shredded me.
Until we went to a commercial. Their last statement was that participating in games or watching violent online content did not change your behavior. After the commercial, they asked me for my parting “shot”.
I said very simply, “If ideas do not have consequences then why do you sell your time for commercials. Commercials recognize they can influence the mind with images and content. You are a hypocrite, just like everyone else. You tell me ideas don’t have consequences and yet you sit here and spew your opinion expecting to change people’s minds. Ideas do have consequences or you guys wouldn’t be on the air. Thanks for proving my point. Good day.”
Want to know how many books I sold because of those appearances. Two! That’s right, 2 books! Let’s just say I did NOT make back my investment!
So, marketing and promotion with a campaign can be dicey. They make the money from you and you very seldom make money off your books that way unless you are a well known celebrity. Again, review any and all such companies from reviews on the internet before plunking down your money.
BOOK FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
Now, these can be very good for you, depending on the type of festival. Do your research and make sure the type of festival matches your genre of book. And, look carefully at the cost. It will cost to set up a booth. And, it will cost to travel. And, it will cost to ship books. And, you have to use some kind of online commerce such as PayPal or Square for transactions which will cost something to set up.
I attended one book event where I sold everything I brought and took orders for more. On another occasion I drove three states away and sold one book. So, be prepared. It could be very productive or it could be a bust.
Now this is an angle that could produce good book sales. I have had several such events and at each one sold most, if not all the books I brought with me.
What kind of appearances? What do you do for a real living? What is one of your hobbies? Are you an expert at anything that might interest people? If nothing, you can become an expert on getting published. Find venues that are looking for talks or presentations based on your book content or an “angle” from your book’s message.
My best friend and former pastor, Mark Sutton and I have written three books on depression. To promote the book, we came up with a three hour seminar called, “Conquering Depression”. At these seminars, we present short presentations selected from key areas in our book. We also charge a cover fee that will pay for the cost of the book, a set of “LifeFilter” cards to accompany the book and to cover the cost of a workbook. Then, we have additional books and card sets at “the table at the back of the room” to sell on the way out.
In October, 2019 Mark gave me a call. I was in Dallas, Texas for a long weekend with my son and daughter in law and their two foster children. I live a three hour drive away. My wife and my daughter accompanied me. On Friday morning, Mark called and asked if I could be Orlando, Florida by Sunday morning. What? I had to work on Monday and I was in Dallas, Texas, not in my hometown of Shreveport. Why?
David Uth, the pastor of First Baptist Church Orlando was going to preach a sermon on depression and promote our book. He wanted us in the service and wanted us to sell books at the church’s bookstore. Now, that church has tens of thousands of members. I could NOT pass up this opportunity. Also, understand that Mark and I view our book as a ministry, not cash cow. We’ve never made much money off the book, but it has changed the lives of thousands with its message on depression.
Guess what? Love Field in Dallas is home to Southwest Airlines which had daily nonstop flights to Orland for a very reasonable price. I flew out on Saturday afternoon, rented a cheap car in Orlando, found a cheap hotel for one night and met Mark and his wife, Donna at First Baptist Church on Sunday morning. Three sermons later, we had sold over 150 books (all the inventory we had) and the bookstore had placed orders for 100 more! Not only that, we had a book signing and had meaningful and hopefully, life changing conversations with dozens of people.
I flew back to Dallas after lunch and my wife and daughter picked me up at the airport and we drove the three hours home that night.
Looking for such opportunities to promote your book or to hold seminars based on the subject in your book will go a long way to not only promoting the book, but allowing you to sell books.
Order copies of your books at your publishing price to keep for sales and for promotion.
BOOK SIGNING/VIRTUAL BOOK SIGNING
Good luck trying to find a brick and mortar store that will allow you to have a book signing. Most of the remaining “corporate” stores are very hard to get a book signing scheduled. If you have an independent book store in mind, that is a much better option. These book stores are always looking for ways to increase traffic. If you can assure them that your book signing will bring in customers then they might go for it. You can even offer to bring your own books and handle payments yourself. However, most book stores want in on the action however little that may be. The advantage to a book signing is you can also feature your previous books (if you have them) while highlighting your latest book. If the book store has a coffee shop, you might offer to speak briefly about your experiences covered in the book or your advices for getting published.
As far as virtual book signings, I’ve never participated in one and I’m not sure how that is handled. I’d do an internet search for more information.
Have special give aways on your website. For instance, you could offer ten free books for the first three responders. You can set up a PayPal account, for instance and create a link to an invoice to charge them for shipping and handling. Make sure they understand that the book is free but they have to pay for S&H. S&H for books is at the MEDIA cost at the post office and is around 3-4 dollars for one book.
Giving away free books is a good way to introduce readers to your work and if you have previous books, they might purchase them.
Offer to give free copies to your local library. Again, this is a good promotional deal and you might get the library to feature you in a talk regarding the subject of the book or how to get published.
Now, I don’t have all the answers. I am sure there are many, many authors out there with far more experience than me. I welcome any input or advice. But, in the meantime, this is the state of publishing as I understand it. My knowledge is not exhaustive and there are many published authors who know much more than I do and I welcome any suggestions on how to improve my chances as a published author.
So, here are my published works:
“The Bible Adventures of Montana Holmes, Vol. 1” by Meriwether Publishing/Contemporary Drama, 1995
“Conquering Depression: A 30 Day Plan for Finding Happiness” with Mark Sutton by Broadman & Holman Publishing released February, 2001 and replaced by updated book in September, 2014.
“Hope Again: A Thirty Plan for Conquering Depression” with Mark Sutton by B&H Publishing released September, 2014 and out of print as of May, 2019.
“The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” by Strang Communications under Realms imprint released October, 2011 and currently out of print. (I have print copies you can purchase through the www.steelchronicles.com website).
“The 12 Demon: Mark of the Wolfdragon” by Strang released October, 2012 and currently out of print. I have print copies you can purchase through the www.steelchronicles.com website).
“The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” by Westbow Press released 2013.
“The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone” by 613media,LLC under Area613 imprint released 2015.
“The 9th Demon: Time of the Cross” by 613media,LLC under Area613 imprint released 2018.
“The 8th Demon: A Wicked Numinosity” by 613media,LLC under Area613 imprint released 2020.
“The 7th Demon: The Pandora Stone” by 613media,LLC under Area613 imprint released 2021.
“The 5th Demon: Demoneyes” by 613media,LLC under Area613 imprint released 2021.
“Death by Darwin” by 613media,LLC under Area613 imprint released 2016.
“Hope Again: A Lifetime Plan for Conquering Depression” with Mark Sutton by Hope Again Books released September, 2019
“The Homecoming Tree” by 613media,LLC under Area613 imprint released 2016.
“Our Darkness, His Light: Ordinary People in the Extraordinary Story of Christ” by Hope Again Books released November, 2020.
About Bruce HenniganPublished novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.
Posted on December 30, 2021, in Steel Chronicles and tagged Book Marketing, Book Promotion, Book Signing, Mark Sutton, social media. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Getting Published, Marketing.
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