Sunday, August 15, 2010

Selling Our Books

Well, we've written, polished and prepared our novel (and hopefully ourselves) for sale.

Now we have to...guess what?...actually sell it.

This is where we bring everything together.  This is also where we typically have a beast that likes to rear up its ugly head.  That beast has a name.  It's called "Discouragement".

See, selling our self-published book takes time.  There's a build to the process.  We're building our readership (especially since, for most of us, this is our first book); we're building our reputations as writers; we're building our word-of-mouth.

That doesn't happen overnight.

So, once we've realized that fame and fortune won't slap us in the face the second we launch our book, now we get down to the nitty-gritty.  This is where all of the tools we've acquired and the social media followings we've built come in handy.  At this point, we begin to advertise.

The main place to advertise, as far as social media is concerned, is Twitter.  This is where we need to be cautious.  We've built up our following by making sure we're putting out content that is informative, funny, entertaining, helpful, or possibly a beautiful combination of all four things.

Commercials are usually not any of those things.

So, we have one of two options.  We limit the number of "commercial" tweets we put out (no more than one commercial tweet to every "branded" tweet--in other words, the tweets that our followers like).  The downside to this is that those commercial tweets don't get out there as often as we'd like.

The other option?  Make sure our commercial tweets are informative, funny, entertaining or helpful.  In other words, work to make sure the commercial tweets fit inside our "brand".  If we can do this successfully, we can up the number of commercial tweets to pretty much one-to-one with the branded tweets.

These commercials can send people to our book trailer, our cover art, our website, our Facebook page.  Or, we could pretty much put most of those items up on Smashwords.  You remember this puppy from last week?  This is the site where you can format your novel (and it will take some work) to their specifications, so that it can be distributed in any e-book format that the reader would like.  You sell your novel for far cheaper than readers could get it anywhere else, and you make more than you would by selling a hardback through a traditional publisher.

You can go other routes (and you may want to pursue both at once, since there are those that just want the feel of a book in their hands), by going to the so-called "vanity" publishing sites.  There are sites where you retain all rights to the book, the books are printed as they are purchased, and you can sell through Amazon.  Cool.  You're still making a lot less off of each copy.

Plus, Smashwords allows for all kinds of coupon codes.  You want to provide a free copy of your novel to a reviewer (great idea for getting the word out there, by the way)?  Send them a 100% off coupon.  More important to you to build your readership than to make $?  Give your Twitter followers a 50% off coupon.  Want email addresses to be able to market your next book more successfully?  Trade the email for a coupon code with the percentage of your choice discounted.

One final note for this week's blog (although we haven't even come close to exhausting this topic):  too many of us view the selling process as something very similar to the picture above.  Furtive.  Shameful.  Hush-hush.

Guess what?  If we sell it that way, people will read it that way, and then will ultimately talk about it that way.  If we want people to shout out the name of our novel from the roof-tops, we probably want to sell the book in the same way.

Doesn't our novel deserve it?

Just to see exactly how this process works, go to our Smashwords page for Plain Jane.  Check out the cover art, the trailer, the audio excerpts and the excellent review.  Plus, you can read 50 pages of the book for FREE.  Test it out before you buy it.  Just a practical test-drive for you before you do the same for yours!

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