Perhaps it’s my preference to set goals simply so I have something to celebrate. I am the type to make a to-do list of things I’ve already finished just so I can have some check marks on the page before I really start. Having goals is the only way I can maintain something to look forward to, have a challenge to overcome, work to achieve a dream. If writing a book is a challenging hike through editor-infested hills, finding a publisher is like hunting the elusive white stag. Marketing? Well, that’s like climbing a mountain. Not impossible, but difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.
My goals for marketing Gateways have been modest. I really wanted on-the-job learning experiences. That is exactly what I’ve had. I set goals for this blog, for book sales, for school visit – quantity being the determination of success. I can finally cross one off. Sales of Gateways have hit the 800 mark! I’m celebrating by toasting a chocolate-flavored beer (it’s better than it sounds) with my husband.
Why 800? I didn’t want my first goal to be the common 500 number, so I picked 800.
This goal was difficult to reach because it has little to do with me achieving something and everything to do with marketing and reader preferences. I’ve learned a great deal in the last year and I know as the market changes and grows, my education will continue.
Here’s what I’ve learned about Marketing a book:
1. The KDP program didn’t work for me. Yes, I did give away 500+ digital copies of Gateways, but not one of them came back with a review. The idea behind KDP that because of the free copies, these readers would tell their friends about the book and book sales would rise. Friends can loan out a copy of the book to a friend for a specified amount of time. Nothing like that happened for me. Perhaps is has something to do with my story. Maybe because there was no financial commitment, people haven’t read it yet. I did wonder if the book was just lousy, but in the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I’m earning 4-5 stars. Maybe the benefits of this program are yet to come.
2. Teachers and school librarians are usually interested in having an author visit. If I had to travel, I asked for mileage, but mostly I didn’t charge. I did send book order forms to the school a few weeks ahead of my visit. I did always sell at least 5+ books at each school visit. Remember, too, that March is reading month. October and November are perfect months to contact schools about being listed on their author visit schedule for March. (I will write about how to prepare for a school visit in a future blog.)
3. Your friends and family will be your greatest support group. Part of my success (albiet slow success) has been word of mouth sales through friends and family. I’m so very grateful to my parents and siblings for all they have done to help me spread the word about my book.
4. Having more than one book to sell is a bonus. Unfortunately, this takes time. This summer I will have two books and by the fall I will have three. That will help, but a drawback for me is that they are all different genres (Gateways – Fantasy; Unforgettable Roads – Christian Fiction; Frog’s Winter Walk – Children’s Picture Book). If you’ve done your homework on how to build a writing platform, you’ll know that writing for more than one genre is not advised. Well…I always was the stubborn one. I don’t read one genre exclusively. I don’t write one genre exclusively. I have yet to see how this multiple genre bookshelf will work for me. I’ll keep you posted.
5. Follow the blogs of successful independent writers. Find them on Facebook and Twitter. Read their posts and read the blogs they read. This has been, by far, the best source of information and education for me. C.S. Laskin and Joanna Penn are two of my favorites. I’ve learned more about marketing through them than I ever will from a book on marketing.