Marketing Your Book – A Primer – Part Seven

The paperback of In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is about to go live, Synchronic will be available on May 22nd and we are having a launch party on Facebook for which there will be lots of great prizes - you have to attend.  I have updated my Marketing Your Book – A Primer – Part Four on advertising with my very positive Book Bub experience. I have also added some thoughts to the choosing categories and keywords post. Check out the updated materials. I'm nearing the end of my marketing series and will be focusing back on writing techniques in subsequent weeks.

This week I will cover:

·      Sharing stories or parts of books for free

·      Book tours

·      Book events

Sharing stories or parts of books for free

Unlike Wattpad, where you share your stories, chapters or novels on Wattpad’s platform and in Wattpad’s culture, many writers share parts of their work on their website, either just as a straight up download, or as an incentive for signing up for their mailing list. David Gaughran at one point did the former, and Jason Gurley does the latter, offering a free copy of his short story The Last Rail-Rider if you sign up for his newsletter. Some people will offer first chapters for free, but I don’t think this differs enough from Amazon’s Look inside or sample features enough to make much of an impact.

I don’t know how successful this strategy is in terms of moving the books that you have for sale, but both Gaughran and Gurley seem to be achieving success in the indie book world. Potential readers get to sample your work (although they theoretically could through the sample chapters on Amazon anyway) and in the case of Gurley’s approach, you get to add to your all-important mailing list. The upside of doing it yourself instead of going with Wattpad is that you get access to the names of the people interested in your work, and you don’t have to get votes and spend time participating in the Wattpad culture. The downside is that people still have to find your website, and as a result, there are probably fewer eyes on your work than there might be on Wattpad.

Bottom Line: Definitely something to try out once you have enough material to both have things for free, and to have things for sale. I’m not there yet, but am working on it.

Book Tours

Book tours, as opposed to blog tours, were a big deal in the past and were considered essential to the launch of any book. But the emerging consensus is that they no longer move sufficient books or generate sufficient buzz to justify the very high cost. But even traditional publishers are not doing it anymore due to the cost benefit ratio. Anne R. Allen wrote a blog about the death of the book tour.

The bottom line is that unless the author is very famous, local, or has a friend with a lot of pull in the community, people do not really come to book events (an exception is the book event that I will talk about below En Vino Novella which was a great success). Many of my writer friends have talked about showing up to their book tour events to see three chairs filled out of a cavernous room, or just as bad, to find themselves posted at a table at the back of the bookstore near the washrooms. Adam Mansbach’s Hell is my own book tour is a humourous take on book tours, but it is not far off the mark from what I have observed.

Although he received backlash for this article, Jeff Bercovici found that industry insiders generally agreed:

“He has identified a problem, and it’s one we’ve been talking about for years,” says president Carol Fitzgerald. “For most authors, the book tour is dead. It’s really, really hard to get it to work.”

However they also noted that there are other reasons to hold a book tour, related to being able to pitch the book to local media and have them review and discuss the book, attracting attention even if nobody comes to the reading.

A friend of mine recently completed a local four or five city tour, reading at various bookstores. I believe she may have sold five books at each stop. The revenues could not possibly have covered her expenses, and without a publicist, I don’t know how much media coverage she received. There are exceptions of course. In Canada, some writers get grants to go on tour to cover their expenses. If you can get a grant, feel like seeing some sites, and are okay with a mixed reception at your tour stops, then book tours are a great idea. Also if you are going to do a book tour, book tours in which you partner with another author, and you are both standing there together in the front of an empty or full room, seem like a very good idea.

Bottom Line: Does not appear to move enough books to be worth the cost.

Book Events

I differentiate single one off book events from a book tour. I was recently invited to participate in En Vino Novellus in Canmore. It is a different kind of event because it features six books, and therefore attracts more people, and it pairs FREE wine with each book. So attendees get six free samples of wine. It was also held in a pub and was well advertised in a smallish community.

Needless to say it was packed, and a marvelous experience, and I am very grateful to have been involved.

I did have to pay my own expenses, but I got to go someplace I had never been before and turned it into a ski trip for my family. And I got to see a long time writer friend, which made for a fantastic evening. I also got to practice my public reading skills, which for a writer are necessary to keep polished. Did I sell a bunch of books you ask? I think I sold twelve, and a few of the attendees tweeted that they loved my book and my reading. The cost of the trip definitely exceeded the book sale revenues, but in this case, I think the event was worth it. A similar local event would be equally worth it.

Bottom Line: Each event has to be evaluated for its own merits. Events in which multiple books are featured, your travel costs are limited, and even better, there is free wine, are definitely ones to consider.