As promised in her first post, we've invited BookWorks' Book of the Week author Carole P. Roman back to share how she and her son, Michael Phillip Cash, sell books so successfully in their flourishing family publishing business.
When it comes right down to it, we indie authors want to sell books. Sure, it's a labor of love—it took days or years of hard work to birth your baby, it took guts, and now you are basking in the glow of all the...hey, what happened? Where are the accolades, the awards, the morning talk shows...the ...dare I say...royalty checks?
To sell books, you have to find a way to make yours stand out from the other three million books that are published yearly. You've heard the advice about needing social media, author pages, a blog, and website, not to mention, a game plan—and it's all true.
A Very Good(reads) Place to Start
Introduce yourself to the world by telling a bit about yourself as a writer. Make sure you have a blog and link it to your Goodreads page. This is a window into your personality as an author. It should attract people who want to know you, so make sure you have fascinating articles on it that may be relevant to your story.
For instance, if you've written a crime thriller, pepper it with articles about criminal cases, perhaps famous ones that remain unsolved. Or, if it's a love story set in Russia, find tidbits about life there, from food to cultural traditions. Get the picture? People with similar interests will find you and even follow you. This should tie into your Facebook and other social media accounts.
To Sell Books You Need Reviews
Getting reviews has changed a bit since we started. You once were able to send a free book and expect a review. Now, you're not allowed to ask or expect a review, but I still send our books to our many reviewers. I have compiled a list over the years that includes more than a thousand names.They are people who contact us after I do a press release, which I always do a week before the book is available on Amazon.
I use http://www.bostickcommunications.com/. They are affordable and have a terrific reach.The people who contact me want to review. They need content for their blogs, and I need to sell books.This helps get the ball rolling. Next comes juggling those balls.
To help keep track of everything, I prepare a spreadsheet for blog tours, contests, and awards. I'm also a firm believer in submitting books for a professional review. Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal are tough to get accepted, but amazing when you do. Kirkus, Foreword and Midwest Book Review charge, but are worth it. You will get a review that usually is spot on and will open the door to be featured in articles or magazines if they like the book—especially if it's a starred review. Librarians, booksellers, agents, publishers, and the film industry comb these sites looking for good books.
If you do ask someone to review your book, you want it to be an honest one. Buyers can sniff out your Aunt Gertrude's glowing review. Don't be afraid of a negative review. Reviews are subjective and if readers see only five stars reviews, chances are they won't bother with your book. Believe it or not, bad reviews can be just as useful. It creates spin, or discussion about your book, even controversy. As they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity! Whatever you do, though, don't engage with a reviewer. It is not wise to write them, even if you think they got something horribly wrong. Trust buyers to know the difference.
Connecting to Book Blogs
Look for blogs in your genre and start setting up interviews. Offer giveaways of your book. I have a network of bloggers that have helped build our presence online. Some only do my son, others review children's work, some do both genres. Look at their content, make sure you are pitching to the right audience.
Giveaways and Book Contests
KDP allows you to run free days to push your book. We do giveaways and many times, winners have left reviews. Goodreads has them as well. When we Tweet them it draws people in to check it out and I usually see an uptick in sales on those days.
I enter all our books in contests. Most of them have won some impressive awards. Some people scoff at these awards because we are paying to enter, but so are the other two thousand people and if your book gets picked, then it was still acknowledged. It can be costly, but the awards not only reinforce that you have something worthwhile, for us, it validated we were onto something special.
You Won't Sell Books by Resting on Your Laurels
Unlike traditional publishers, I promote five-year-old books with the same gusto as a new release. This keeps them in the low rankings and reviews keep coming in. I have discovered that the more reviews your book has, the more likely people will add to them. I am also a reviewer on Amazon. Very often if you read other authors books, they will read yours.
Carry books with you everywhere. (I have the most well-read drugstore in the world.) Give them out at the supermarket, hair salon—anywhere there are shoppers. Ask them if they wouldn't mind leaving a review on Goodreads or Amazon and never ask for stars or a positive review, just an honest one.
Be Willing to Hire Help
Get your name out there everywhere you can—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, other blogs like this one. I have an excellent social media associate (Julie Gerber at Away We Go Media) who taught me to navigate the shoals of being a public person. I couldn't have done this without her guidance.
There are many professional service providers who can help, including those here in the BookWorks community, so if this all sounds a little overwhelming, consider enlisting some outside support.
You can't just write books and expect the fans to flock to your masterpiece. If you want to sell books, you must sell yourself and your brand (which should be one and the same). To date, my son has been noticed! He has acquired both an agent, an entertainment attorney, and now a film agent as well. I have been chosen to appear on KDP's Facebook as a successful indie author and was included in their media roundtable. I've also been asked to run my own blog radio show. Now I am looking to promote other indie authors!
Writing the books has been a mere fraction of the whole project. There are good and bad days, and I had to grow a very thick skin. It hasn’t been easy, but I'm having a ball!
Not bad for a second career.
In my next installment, I'll tell you how I launched my children's book series. Please share your comments, I'd love to hear from my fellow BookWorks' members about your experiences in indie publishing.
Award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Her nonfiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of customs and culture around the world. She has expanded her nonfiction culture series to include historical time periods. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children. If you’d like more information about Carole, check out her websites:
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