5 Truths of Marketing a Book

Randomly selected and new, proud (hopefully) owner of a shiny copy of The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter is...


How bout them apples? Her entries occupied slots 8-17 on the drawing board and the winning number was 15.

E-mail me with your address and I'll drop a signed copy in the mail first thing.

Well that was fun! Thank you everyone for all the entries. And a big thank you to everyone that came out to the release party this past Thursday night!

The book is out now, I've already sold a few, and I spent a good chunk of my time today at Costco throwing bookmarks at every passerby.

Marketing a book is pretty tough. Actually, it's probably just as hard as trying to get published or trying to write a new novel. Well, maybe not as hard, but I do invest a ton of time peddling my books. Book signings, school presentations (my favorite), workshops, conferences, blogging, facebooking, tweeting (hee-hee, that cracks me up... tweeting. Weird.) I can't even add all the hours I've chocked up, but if I ballparked it, I'd say a million hours. Yep. A million hours. I've spent one meeleeeon hours marketing my book. It sure feels like it.

But I think future authors and actually present-day authors need to realize the investment one has to make to create a following. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Do I feel like I'm beating my head up against a steel barrel sometimes? I can show you the bruise. I really wish I would have paid better attention in my college marketing classes. Authors, now-a-days, are more than the writers of fine works of fiction. They are much, much more. Unless you can sign your name as Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), J K Rowling (Potter), or Rick Riordan (Percy), you'll be required to really sell your self along with your book.

Here are five things I've learned so far:

1. All bookstore employees are the gatekeepers. Befriend them. Praise them. Shower them with gifts when necessary. Thank them for allowing you a moment of their time, or a chair and a table in their bookstores. Never, ever. I repeat... never take them for granted! I've heard of authors making demands upon the fine bookstore employees, even yelling at them when their books aren't positioned in a certain way at the store. Bad form, I say. I've seen bookstore employees literally hand sell dozens of an author's books during one shift. They have power you cannot imagine.

2. Laughter helps to sell even horror novels. People like to laugh. Genuinely laugh. No, you don't need to learn an array of knock-knock jokes, but you do need to be willing to chum it up with everyone you come in contact with. It works for me. I like to hear people laugh at something I've said. Makes me feel all joyous. But don't fake it. You've got to naturally like people. If you don't, that's something you should work on first, even before writing a novel.

3. Pass something out. I've handed out pencils, marbles, bookmarks, candy, etc. Yes, this should never distract from what you've written, but I like having something to fidget with in my hands. In most cases, it's nice to have an object to give someone who's decided to pass on buying your book and can turn an awkward moment into a promising future. Cheesy, I know. But have you ever sat there and stared at somebody who you know is not going to buy your book, but they don't quite know what to do to close the transaction, so they slowly return your book to your pile, and try to make eye contact with someone... anyone else in order to leave and avoid your humiliating stare? No? Trust me. Pass something out.

4. Sign everything! Yes you want to sell and sign books, but I once made the mistake of telling some kids at my very first school visit who wanted my autograph that I'd sign some bookmarks for them later at my book signing because I was in a rush to get to my next school. Don't ever do that. Make the time, if you can, for kids. I've regretted that moment ever since. Now, I'll sign socks, hands, scraps of paper, pencils, whatever. Kids deserve the best and if they, for reasons beyond my understanding, think I'm cool enough to sign something for them, you better believe I'll do it.

5. Take every opportunity to promote your work. I've done all sorts of book signings. There are times I've only sold one copy and that was to the kind store manager who felt sorry for me sitting by myself at a table for 3 hours. Other times, I've sold out. I've done signings where a hundred books weren't enough and others where twenty books looked like a mountain of doom. The point is, you never know when you're going to meet somebody who will want to read your book. Isn't that what this is all about? I'll answer that question for you. It is. Try to arrive early and stay your committed time. I recently missed two book signings that I didn't realize I was scheduled for. Shame! I still feel awful and I've apologized profusely to the parties involved. That's not me. I'm grateful for every opportunity and I never want to convey the message that I'm more important to make my commitments. I'm not more important. No one is. So much time and energy go into setting up a book signing. And like I said before, you never know what awesome people you might meet.

Yeah, maybe these ideas are nothing new, and maybe they're not that helpful. Still, writing a book is only the beginning. It's a fun and an amazing adventure, but be ready to work towards success.

Tune back in like 2 days for another exciting contest. Yes, I'm giving away more. Lastly, did you spot the Austin Powers tribute in this post?


A.J. Dub. said...

My books are on their way to Texas! My Mom and sister(I think) kindly came to the signing on my behalf.
Here is what my mom told me about her experience:
"He was a nice guy. The book looks good. I'll have to read it. Mom"
I think she bought Hashbrown Winters for my nephew too, so you must have followed your own advice pretty well!
I really, really can't wait to have the books in my hands. :)

Mrs. LaDuke said...

I bought your new book, and the last two Hashbrown Winters that I didn't have (even though you had already left). So, you can expect to see my shining face eagerly awaiting an autograph when you come to do the 4th grade assembly at Oak Hollow. Which, we REALLY appreciate the personal invite! I know you had to put something in motion to add 4th grade to your visit! It did not go unnoticed!

Frank Cole said...

AJ - It was cool meeting your mom! I couldn't figure out who she was until she said AJ Dub and then I knew.

Mrs. LaDuke - I'm looking forward to Oak Hollow! Hopefully it will be fun.

Chas Hathaway said...

Thanks for the great tips. I've just started on this road, with my book in Cedar Fort editing right now.

Any good suggestions of what to Tweet without being too self-focussed?

Valley Ridge Ward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Cole said...

Chas, Tweet away my friend. I don't know what else to talk about anymore other than book stuff. :) I guess you figure you have to get the word out somehow.