Hooray, you have written your book and successfully self published! The first box of books has arrived, and you feel satisfied. Then the realisation sinks in: “I need to sell some books!”
It can be overwhelming working out where to start when marketing your book, and maybe even more so during the current COVID-19 pandemic. A good place to start is working out the best places to stock your book. Ask yourself why you wrote the book in the first place and the audience you are wanting to reach, then think about where these types of people will be going and visiting after the pandemic is over.
You have written a book, so a good place to have your book stocked is in bookshops! One piece of information I was told early on is that traditional bookshops won’t stock your books if you are a self published author – and this is NOT TRUE! I have mine stocked in many bookshops.
Apart from bookshops think of other outlets that would suit your book. My books are travel guides for children and therefore tourist outlets like gift shops and information centres have worked well for me.
When approaching potential stockists, have a sales pitch prepared in your mind and include costings (as they will want to know the recommended retail and wholesale prices). Normally, I would suggest meeting with the business owner face to face for a better success rate, however given the current COVID-19 situation we need to adapt and you can take the opportunity to discuss your book with potential stockists over the phone or by email. Even if their physical store may have closed, many bookshops are still offering online sales.
You can send the business owner a demo copy of your book by post while you are self-isolating (or drop it off while following social distancing protocols) and then follow up with a meeting in person once restrictions have lifted. People are less likely to make a decision on the spot, so ensure that you give them all your sales information and the chance to flip through a copy of your book in their own time to help them make a decision.
When you self publish, your book title will automatically make its way into the online platforms such as Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia, etc. Get on the coattails of the online market and create your own website where you can sell your books direct to the public.
Once you have your books stocked, whether in traditional bookshops, gift shops or online, you then need to be persistent with marketing. Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn are all very cost-effective and have proven high reach to potential buyers, and likely even more so at this time with people spending more time at home.
If you are writing for children, as I am, when social distancing restrictions have eased you could also approach bookshops and libraries to offer your time to do story time. You could also get involved with your community through other book-related activities such as book week, reading programs, markets and reading challenges. You can leverage off these activities to spread the word and promote your book. For example, ‘The Reading Hour’ is on every year, so you could approach your local library or school and donate a book to be included in the reading hour challenge.
The last tip for you is to enjoy the road you’re on! You’ve written a book, which is a huge achievement, so remember to be positive, believe in your product, create opportunities and then be persistent.