Last week, when I talked about distribution, I briefly mentioned bookstores, festivals, markets, and just plain hauling around boxes of books. Let’s look at those things again, for a moment, and then move on the more creative selling.
Bookstores: you CAN arrange events and have your books stocked in indie stores, even if you have no mainline distribution. But it’s much easier if stores can simply order your books through their main system. And it’s virtually impossible to get into large chain stores without that distribution.
Festivals, markets, schlepping: anyone can do this, all it takes is time.
Now, let’s be creative—and I’m going to use RHP books as examples, since we cover a lot of genres:
Genre Events: Smut by the Sea, across the pond, is a good example of this. Author Charlotte Howard (Seven Dirty Words, Four Letter Words) is going this year, in fact, she’s a featured author. Almost any genre has an organization, or several or many groups, who put on events to bring together readers and writers.
You will, however, run into other authors who have a “buy mine, I’ll buy yours” agenda—keep your wallet in your pocket. Sure, you’ll have sales, but only do this if you DO intend to read the book. Your book should stand on its own, not be a condition of a sale. Writers’ conferences can fall into this category too, although sometimes they offer a store to sell participants’ books.
Science fiction? Look at Archon or ComicCon; the first is local (to me) and the second, in Cali, has spawned dozens of events around the US. Particularly books like author George Sirois’ novel, Excelsior, or Michael Chulsky’s The Descending Darkness, fall into this category and could benefit from the exposure.
Now, you might be thinking these aren’t so creative after all, but how many of you have registered for one of these events? Even better—sell yourself, so you can be featured or part of the program. You wrote a book, for heaven’s sake, surely you have something to talk about, right?
Let’s move on—where is your story set? Who is the main character? Is there an overall message?
The Reduced Series: Girl Scout camp, adult women, survivalism
P.A.W.S: Forest Park (STL), young teens, bullying
Dickinstein: 1800s, Emily Dickinson, science
Spirits of St. Louis: St. Louis area, ghosts, history
Water Under the Bridge: early 1900s, women and girls, religious bullying, women’s rights
Danny’s Grace: early stardom, child abuse, drugs
Caught Between Two Curses: baseball, Cubs, paranormal, mystery, teen girl
What can you come up with as a potential venue for these? Break down your title, your story, and let your imagination loose. The worst that can happen is that you’re told “no.” And it might be just the thing a particular venue needs/is interested in to help THEIR sales and exposure.
I’m not forgetting children’s books here: Tuffy and Debbie, for instance. Guest reader at a school, naturally handing out a card with a book-buying link; library story time; pediatrician offices—ask to leave a complimentary copy. Again, look at the setting, the characters, the story, the message.
Holiday books can pose a particular problem when it comes to marketing and sales year ‘round. However, keep in mind that holiday shopping often starts in the fall, sometimes late summer. Retail stores often begin receiving holiday merchandise in August. Yes, August! Even now, in March, it’s not really too early to start bringing Morgidoo and ELF to someone’s attention!
Non-fiction can work the same way, except it’s more obvious that you are an expert—every author is, of course, an expert on his or her book. INNspiring Breakfasts, with its tie-in to author Kriss Royer’s B&B, could also be featured on cooking shows, grocery stores, specialty shops, and more. What is YOUR book about? What kinds of people would be interested in YOUR book?
Make a list. Brainstorm. Write it down whenever and wherever you think of a venue. Find your hook. Find your audience—make another list of all the characteristics of your ONE READER. Then find that reader, and all the others like him or her. Or find their parents. Or their pets.
You have to look, but you have to know exactly what you’re looking for.