Let's discuss an important topic when it comes to publishing a book - building your following. Many of my authors aspire to either traditionally publish their next books or attract the attention of our foreign rights agents (we have two of them). Key to both opportunities is a strong following to justify the acquisition or overseas sale of the book. So what tips and tricks can you apply to your marketing and promotion to build aforementioned following?
The easiest way to build a following is social media. Social media has different affects: it can justify the case to the agents or traditional publishers. What if your sales aren't commensurate with your following, though? Well, if you have book fan page with thousands of fans, then you can show the potential of followers interested in what you're doing. Every little bit helps. And remember this one important factor: PUBLISHERS ARE A BUSINESS! A SURE THING IS THE ONE THING THEY WANT TO INVEST IN. Please bear that in mind at all times. Business is business and if you can easily justify their investment then your chances of your book being acquired are much like any investment. After all, who are you going to invest in? The sure thing or the one with shaky or no real sales to justify the investment? It's pure logic.
Attend book festivals throughout the nation not just to sell books, but also to invest in the marketing and spreading the book outside of the region. If you're really serious about spreading your name, nothing works better than attending book festivals throughout the country. I suggest picking each one in specific regions of the country.
Now huge piece of advice: keep the demographics of your region in mind. A racy, erotic, super violent or controversial book is less likely to fly in the conservative Midwestern states. I'll never forget the funniest moment ever when I was selling The California Girl Chronicles in Kansas City, Missouri. A woman walked up and asked about the book. The pitch: a young screenwriter tries to break into Hollywood only to be distracted by hot men. Her response, "Mmm-huh..." Yeah, it was funny but not good for sales. Sold $5,000 in books in Chicago vs. $500 in Kansas City. See my point?
Nothing sells the book better than the author, so try and attend events where you can meet and greet readers (e.g., book festivals or multi-author signing events). Book festivals have a built-in attendance rate whereas your efforts to attract people to an unknown author are likely to be met with frustration and the sound of crickets. Multi-author events also have the built-in readers in attendance (you know more people to attract more readers). Without a following (the whole point of this article), you will find it difficult to do random book signings, especially at small, independent bookstores.
The big box chain stores are on the way out so print distribution doesn't have the same value and in fact often makes absolutely no profit because of the ridiculous and dated return policies used. Notice Barnes and Noble have added a restaurant to their stores. They're investing and expanding more to attract people in general with the side effect of getting people into their bookstore. They also push other products aside from books. Amazon and eBooks have killed the print star, meaning print book sales are being bitten into by ePub sales.
Michelle Gamble is the owner of 3L Publishing. For more information send an email to info@3LPublishing.com or call 916-300-8012.