Marketing: NOT 101 (more like negative 2000)
Given that I do not wish deal with Amazon and the multitude of issues that ensue, I have taken it upon myself to get my books out there. I made a goal starting in January 2019. I’ve yet to reach it or even see the finish line, but I’ll keep trying.
Here is what I have done and what I have learned from it. ( I learned it the hard way, by making all the mistakes. Do your research and try to do it right the first time. )
Make sure your cover reflects the story/moral/message you wish to convey. At my very first vendor fair, I had my books proudly displayed. To me, my dog is a cute, lovable mixed breed. What I didn’t realize was that people passing by thought my books were about Pit-Bulls. I have revamped my covers for the earlier books, but I still have at least 200 of each to disperse.
Be thankful your friends support you. Without the enthusiasm of my friends I would have given up a long time ago. My books are very good. But if a horse can’t find the water, they can’t make that decision to drink or not. My friends have shared my posts, given me encouragement, bought all my books. I am delighted with stories and pictures of their little ones enjoying the books.
Being a vendor at an event can be a good experience but here is what you have to make sure you can do.
1 Actively sell your books. Don’t just sit there watching people walk by because that’s what they will do, they will walk on by. If you engage a customer in a conversation you are more likely to make a sale.
2 Do not speak directly to the kids unless they initiate it. Parents might think you are a psycho. However, make sure you have things the kids are attracted to, ie: Your great new book covers, colorful posters, balloons, swag. I used a “please vote for the best cover” gimmick which saved my bacon at an event that was under attended. A few weeks ago my hubby surprised me with a free standing backdrop. That made me very visible.
3 Find out what kinds of vendors typically go to that event. If there are a lot of non profits, more than likely, people will think your book is free. I had several pick up books and start walking away. I very sweetly mentioned that they cost money and they embarrassingly put them back and high-tailed it away. If you are at a location like that, ask to be put with other vendors, not between a bunch of non profits.
4 Oh, and mid summer children’s festivals are not a good place for books. The cotton candy alone threatened a few of my covers, not to mention the water and sweat.
5 Less is best. If you have too much stuff on your table it looks cluttered. Be neat and you will be more attractive.
6 Vendor table fees can be enormous: In January I made a yearly plan and found all kinds of places I could set up and sell my book. I wanted to set up a table at teacher/librarian/home school conventions, but the cost of a table there is outrageous. I don’t have $2000.00 to spend on the chance that I might sell 3 books. The local craft fairs etc, are more my price range. With them, though, comes the problems I already mentioned above.
Find a distributor and use them. As you can see from my vendor experience so far, this method is not the best. I tried to do it all on my own. I had my books printed at a place in Baltimore that is not a book printer. They look great & they were affordable. But… I’m the only one who knows about them so far. Ha ha ha ha. Ingram Spark or Amazon have print on demand. They have connections with stores and libraries etc. etc. I am tempted to try Ingram. However, the books sitting in my living room are screaming to find new homes first.
Libraries and Schools buy from distributors, not so much from self employed authors with no connections.
Visit the schools/ donate books: The most sales I made at one time were when I did an author visit at a local school. I donated a set of books to the library so the librarian could show the kids and they could check them out if they wanted. A month before I came, they sent home order forms. It was a good deal.
Join author groups, network and ask for help. I have a traditionally published author with 20 titles living down the street from me. I was totally scared to approach her because I didn't want to be that annoying neighbor. However, I met her at a conference and we are now good friends. She is very supportive. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
If you wish to target libraries and bookstores make sure your books have a spine with the book name and your name on it. I know, seems a silly thing, but shelf space is at a premium and books that have to be put in a special place take up too much room. My 800 skinny, paperback books without spines will tell you they are very sad about this.
I have more events coming up. Sadly three are more crafty type vendor fairs, but I have hopes for the two book festivals that I signed up for. One is in Charleston, West Virginia and was quite reasonable. Only $150.00 for a small space for two days. The other is in York, PA.
Tune in when December comes to see how it went. In the mean time, I plan to do crazy email/mail marketing to schools to promote my author visits.