Saturday, April 27, 2019

Selling Books

Some writers think that once they’ve gotten their book published, their job is done, and it’s time to sit back and watch the sales roll in. They believe it’s the publisher’s job, or the agent’s job, to sell the book. Having a career as a writer (which is very difficult to pull off) means 20% writing, and 80% promotion. Truth is, if you want the book to sell, you must get out there and show people what you’ve got. The public, in general, has a very short memory. If you’re not putting your book in front of them on a regular basis, they’re going to forget you. That’s why you still see ads for huge companies like Verizon, Uber, and Progressive. They’re all successful companies in part because they don’t let you forget them. They also offer something you need or want.

Everyone and their dog thinks they can write a book. There’s a big difference between writing a book and telling a great story. My father was a journalist. He wrote for newspapers, and then for the federal government. All non-fiction. He wanted to write novels, so sat down one day and wrote one. Months later, he tried to get it published, and no one wanted it. He found a company that would help him publish and sent his manuscript to them. They read it and said he wrote like a journalist. The story required a lot of revisions. Instead, he gave up. After he passed away, I found the manuscript and attempted to read it. My father never knew I’d gotten published. He struggled with it for a long time and never got anywhere. My first book was published in hardback four years after I started writing again. I wasn’t really close to my father, but didn’t have the heart to tell him. Right or wrong, I just couldn’t do it.

Anyway, his book was very difficult to read. I got through one page before giving up. The story wasn’t engaging and the characters weren’t interesting.

Self publishing seems like a great solution when no one else seems interested. It definitely can be, but at the same time, you need to be sure that what you’ve written is actually good. You do this through feedback and reviews. I know people who’ve self-published and actually launched real careers that way. It is possible.

So let’s say you finally got your book out there. Whether you found a publisher, or you did it yourself, the next step is telling people about it. I’ve taken out multiple ads for ridiculous amounts of money only to have nothing happen. The key to successful promotion is repetition. Get out there, stay out there, and be patient. Nothing happens right away.

To find readers, go to bookstores, conventions, and talk about your book. Take out ads online, get t-shirts made with the cover of your book. See if you can arrange for a book signing. Yes, it can easily mean you’re sitting there alone, feeling like a miserable failure, and wanting to just chuck it all. Don’t. Be patient. Look for new ways to get the word out about your book.

Most importantly, keep going. Believe in your story.