April 12

Offline Marketing Tips To Boost Your Book Sales

offline ways to sell books

offline ways to sell books
Remember the good old days before the internet made everything so gosh-darned easy? Remember driving around with boxes of books in the back of your car, hawking to bookstores and selling at festivals and pretty much pounding the pavement to drum up ALL your sales? No? Well, to be fair, neither do I since I began my writing career online, but I have a point to make, so let me get there. When marketing your book, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world that exists offline. Online marketing can be the easiest, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just marketing online. Get out into the ‘real world’ with these offline marketing tips to sell more books.

When marketing your book, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world that exists offline. Online marketing can be the easiest, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just marketing online. I know several authors who really get out into the community and get engaged with people about their books. Rebecca Patrick-Howard is AH-MAZING at this. So is Tonya Kappes. Both write in extremely different genres, but both know how to make the most of their offline market. Get out into the ‘real world’ with these offline tips to sell more books.

Trust me when I say that it takes more than just ebooks and online marketing to really sell books and grow a fanbase. It also takes a little stepping out into the real world in order to spread the word about your books.

Give stuff away

The best way to get people to read your book is to get it into their hands, so if you have your book in paperback form, buy several copies to give away to potential readers. Give them away to people who are likely to leave you a review on Amazon or Goodreads, and don’t forget to ask if they want their copy signed by the author.

If your book is a children’s book, gift a copy to your local school, your public library, or one of your local daycare centers. Be sure to include information on where parents, teachers, and caregivers can get additional copies. You may want to inquire about doing a ‘free’ reading for one of these places in exchange for allowing the children to take home order forms for your book.

If your book is non-fiction, see if you can find a group or business that deals with the niche you have written about. Look for events that relate to the subject matter of your book and see if you can get involved in some way.

Print up business cards or bookmarks featuring your book. Give these out wherever you go, when appropriate. Make sure your contact information and information on how to order the book is printed on the cards and bookmarks. Whether you just have an ebook or both print and digital copies, get your book’s info into people’s hands and in front of their eyes offline to see more sales online.

Get involved

Ask your library and local bookstores if you can do a free reading or give a presentation about getting your book published. As a local author with experience, you’ll be a welcome authority for many creative writing groups and other people in the community who want to learn how to get their own books published.

Show potential readers why they should buy your books. Let them know you’re not all about “buy my book”, that you actually give a hoot about the community you live in. Get involved in community events like festivals and fairs. Set up a booth so you can sell your books and sign autographs. You may find yourself becoming a local celebrity if you do it often enough.

A word of warning: If you don’t actually care about your community/charity/other great thing and you are in this just to make money, stop reading this and sod off. You’re in it for the wrong reasons, and that never equates to great success.

Always carry copies of your book with you

Even if you never planned on selling print books, have some made up via Createspace. It’s free to set it up, you can grab copies cheaply when you buy directly through CS, and it looks great to have a copy of your book lying around. Besides, some people (like my mom, my aunt, and my friend, children’s book author Elle Alexander) still hate ebooks. Those people (I’m talking to you, Elle!) are diehard hardcopy book fanatics, and they will never, ever read your book.

Here’s one more tip that’s great if you want an instant conversation starter or just a reminder of why you’re writing your books.  Save a copy of your book’s cover to your cell phone, then set it as your wallpaper/screensaver. I change mine whenever I release a new book. If I get tired of looking at the same cover, it’s a great reminder that it’s time to release the next book!

ebook as wallpaper

(Here’s mine…that’s one of my pen name books, and my fat writer’s fingers!)

You never know when you’ll be able to spark up a conversation about your book. Be proud of being a published author; it’s not easy writing an entire book and learning how to format it for print. Be ready to answer questions about your book and the process you used to get it finished. You never know who you’ll run into throughout your day to day life. You might be surprised to find that there are lots of people out there ‘in the real world’ that would love to know more about you and your books, they just have to know where to find them.

What are your personal favorite ways to market your books offline? Please share with the rest of the class in the comments section down below!

September 26

Pen Names, Pet Peeves and Publishing

wrong way my way right way

wrong way my way right wayI’ve been toying with the idea of doing a blog post about pen names for a while, but, to be honest, there’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said somewhere else about them. I will say that, when I was trying to make myself feel better about using one for my cozy mysteries, I discovered that some people hate them vehemently, while others assume that writers who use them have something to hide. I’d like to set the record straight on why I use them, and start a whole ‘nother debate about one of my other pet peeves, indie authors who argue amongst themselves.

I never set out to write books, at least, not at first. When I wrote my first non-fiction book about saving money by ditching cable television, I sold a handful of copies and thought I was hot stuff for writing a book that was probably 10,000 words long, if that. I used my real name, or at least my initials and real surname, because I was convinced that I was on my way to building a career as an internet marketer.

Later, I used my real name, no initials, on my children’s books, but linked to all the non-fiction books as well on my Amazon author page. I didn’t even consider things like Googling my name to make sure that nothing embarrassing came up when I typed it in, but lo and behold, I later saw some topless model with the same name as me, and I just hoped that if my children’s books became a hit, no one would confuse the two of us. (Though, to be fair, I’d kill for her figure, lol!)

When I decided to try my hand at writing grownup fiction books, I knew I wanted a different image and name for my books, so I set about choosing a pen name. My pen name, Ruby Blaylock, is my mother’s maiden name, and Ruby was just a name I liked that sounded sweet and southern. My grandmother’s name was Shelby, and Ruby always reminded me of that, so that’s how I landed on that particular moniker.

I know some people want absolutely everything they write to be under their one, true name, but I plan on crossing several genres, and to me, that wouldn’t be good business. I mean, would you trust a children’s book author who also wrote steamy romance or gruesome horror stories? Well, you might, you cheeky thing, but others might not. To me, some instances just call for a pen name, but I can’t fathom why some people get so wound up about NOT using a pen name.

I’ve heard authors say things like, “It’s more trouble than it’s worth,” and “it’s cheating or lying to the readers.” Um, hello…it’s not. For many authors, writing isn’t our only day job, and if bosses or coworkers were to find out about our writing habits, we might be called out or even lose jobs because of it. (For the record, I don’t have another job. I also have very little money, but that’s neither here nor there, lol!)

It just annoys me when indie authors bicker among themselves about best practices, like “you’re not a real author if you’re using a pen name.” And it irks me to no end when indie authors try to undercut each other, complaining about the way they do things.

I have had several other writers comment to me that they don’t feel ebooks are “real” books. They are so mired in the myth of traditional publishing, even though they self-publish, that they convince themselves that ebooks are just not worth it. Let me tell you, they most certainly are.

While it’s probably the dream of every indie author to see their books gracing the shelves of places like Barnes & Noble, the reality is, unless you are really good and really lucky, it’s hard to get noticed by these big bookstores if you are an indie author. For those of us just starting out in our journey, writing and publishing ebooks offers us a chance to grow and hone our writing skills in front of a “live” audience, improving with every book that we write.

I do offer my books in paperback, because I’m a sucker for a physical book, but the majority of my sales (and many other indie authors’ sales) are in ebook format these days. Ebooks are great for so many reasons, but I’d never stand up and say people are foolish if they choose to publish only physical books as an independent author.

I’ve begun to realize that this post is a bit of a long rant, so I’ll wind it up. I just wanted to remind you, my fellow authors, that we need to stick together. We’re all in this together, this storytelling lark. And we should be helping and encouraging each other, not bickering like my kids over whether cats or dogs are better pets. (And while we’re at it, we should stop bickering about things like which religion, sex, race or social system is better, but that’s a whole ‘nother set of pet peeves for another post, lol!)

So, whether you publish paperbacks or ebooks, use a pen name or lay it all out for the world to see, I invite you to comment and share your own links to your work in the comments section below. Let’s support each other and slowly make the world a better place, one word at a time.