Blogs by MJ Allaire
More Marketing Tips
10/25/2008 3:41:11 AM
As many of you already know, I'm self-published and currently have three books out in my YA fantasy series, the Denicalis Dragon Chronicles. My previous blog described some of my marketing ideas for using the fall season to get your books "out there". Below is an addition to that, which I originally posted on my good friend Geri Ahearn's blog a few weeks ago.
Writing your book is definitely the easy part of an author's journey... once you have the book in your hands, getting it out to the readers, especially if you're self-published, is probably the biggest challenge that we as authors have never really thought about (I know I DEFINITELY didn't!!).
One of the things I did when after I published Dragon's Blood was I took a physical book down to my local Borders store and said, "I'm a new, YA Fantasy Author and I'd like to do a book signing". I showed her (the manager) my book and she was intrigued, so she agreed to buy five copies from me to start with. I did the book signing, which I later found out was good because once you do a signing, if your books show they can sell, they may then STOCK your book! Once you have them in one store, you can then go to another Borders and say "my books are being carried by this other Borders [insert city] and I'd like to do a book signing". I did this over and over and pretty soon my book was physically in 10 Borders stores, physically on the shelf, in Connecticut!
Another thing I've learned is there are many other markets out there though, so I'm not just focusing on book stores. My books are YA Fantasy, so I'm gearing up for school visits, library visits, fantasy merchandise stores, local gift shops, etc. In Connecticut we have a group called Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association [aka CAPA] and this has been a WONDERFUL organization for me to join! Not only do we have authors, both traditionally published AND self-published, but we also have editors, publishers (authors who totally publish on their own, from A to Z), illustrators, and even people who haven't had anything published that are just there to learn.
Here in New England, once a year we have a HUGE fair called The Big E (in West Springfield, Massachusetts), and all of the New England states participate in it. Each state has a building that showcases specialties from that state (ie: in Vermont, they have a cheese booth that sells ALL KINDS of cheese, in New Hampshire they have a fudge booth [YUM, YUM], in Maine they have THE BEST baked potatoes around, Rhode Island has Clam Chowder and clam fritters, etc) .. well, this year was the 2nd year that CAPA had a bookstore in the Connecticut building, featuring books written solely by Connecticut Authors! The Big E is a 17-day event, and each of those 17 days we had guest authors who were there to talk to the crowd about their books, publishing, etc, and if they made a sale, they were there to sign the books, which is a great marketing tactic. This was GREAT exposure to all authors, not just because they were a part of Connecticut, but because The Big E has over 1 MILLION visitors during this 17-day period! I'm lucky enough to have books in a very popular genre... last year I sold 62 books (at that time I only had books 1 & 2, but released book 3 in April, 2008) total (even when the authors aren't there, their books stay in the book store for the duration of the Big E), but this year I really used some of the marketing techniques I've learned and I managed to sell 391 books! And although it was exhausting and very hard work to be up there all day during those days where I was one of the "featured authors", what an exhilarating experience it was .. and I would do it again in a HEARTBEAT!
Soooo, where am I going with this, you're probably asking?
First, if you have any kind of groups such as CAPA in your area, join them if you can. Meet other authors and network with them .. share what works for you and what doesn't. I've met some fabulous friends through CAPA.
Second, look for any local events in your area where you can be a vendor. We have a local market here in New London where people sell crafts (necklaces, etc) and I do some of those events with my very good friend and fellow author, Tom Santos. Granted we don't always make lots of sales with our books, but we've learned to bring other things with us (I now also make jewelry) to add more flavor to the booth.
Third, determine who your market is. For me, it's young adults, so I'm very interested in any local events that are targeting children, as well as schools, libraries, etc. My local grocery store down the road also was willing to stock my books on a consignment basis ... and I'll be going there for a book signing the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Use the holidays to perhaps sell your books at a discounted multi-book rate? Or a special holiday rate?
Fourth, don't be afraid to talk to the public. When I'm at a book signing, I have bookmarks (that I had made through onlineprinthouse.com) handy and as I see young adults walking by I'll hand them a bookmark and say "have you read my books about dragons?", or to an adult I'll say, "Do you have a young adult reader in your household?" Amazingly, alot of THE ADULTS say that THEY are the YA readers!!
Fifth, I believe an internet presence is MANDATORY in this technological day and age! If you don't have a website, you should. If you don't know how to make one or can't afford it, www.authorsden.com is a free site that won't be YOUR website, but you can use it that way until you can make your own. When you have something major happen, send out a press release (www.pr.com is a free site). Blog as much as you can, on your own sites and on those who have similar interests as you do. I send out a press release with each of my books when they go live, and I also just sent one out about how well my sales were at the Big E. If you think it's newsworthy, send out a press release! Initially I created my MySpace account to keep an eye on my teenage daughter, but now along with that, I totally use it to send out messages & blogs about my books. Many of my friends on MySpace now are libraries, other authors, reviewers (Hi Geri!!!), etc. Make as many friends as you can on these social networking sites - Who knows what could turn into some positive PR someday.
Sixth, contact your local newspapers/tv/radio stations to see if they'd be willing to do a story on you.
My list can go on and on.
I'm not perfect at marketing my books, but I've been doing it now for three years. I work a full time job, I'm divorced and am raising 2 of my 3 teenage children (the oldest joined the Navy last year) on my own, I play volleyball when I can, I market my books with almost EVERY opportunity I come across, and sometimes I even get to see my boyfriend :) .. but during that time I've sold over 2,500 copies, which may not seem like a lot, but given everything else going on in my life, I think it's great! I have a burning drive and determination to make a difference in this world to readers of all ages .. and I'm bound and determined to succeed! I may not be the next J.K. Rowling, but that's ok, because the world already has one of those.
I'm just happy to be MJ Allaire.
If I can offer any more (long and drawn out) suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact me!
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More Blogs by MJ Allaire
More Marketing Tips - Saturday, October 25, 2008
Marketing Your Books - Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Big E Book Sales!! - Monday, September 22, 2008
Support CT Authors at the Big E in Massachusetts! - Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Dragon's Blood" Review - Thursday, July 10, 2008
First Sale of Dragon's Tear!!! - Monday, April 28, 2008
Book 3 in my series is LIVE!!! - Thursday, April 24, 2008
Thinking about publishing through AuthorHouse? - Sunday, April 13, 2008
My Fiasco with AuthorHouse - Monday, April 07, 2008
Thoughts about the Production of my Upcoming Fantasy Novel - Sunday, March 30, 2008
More Self-Publishing Thoughts - Saturday, February 23, 2008
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing - Friday, February 22, 2008
Happy New Year, ready to read?? - Monday, January 07, 2008
Another update on Book 3 - Sunday, December 02, 2007
Update on Book 3 - Saturday, November 10, 2007
More Thoughts from a Happy Reader... - Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Another Happy Reader's Thoughts - Monday, August 20, 2007
Comments from a Happy Young Reader! - Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A Surprise Act of Kindness - Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Greetings - Wednesday, July 25, 2007