A growing number of self-published authors either never joined the social media frenzy, or are giving it the cold shoulder in favor of other book promotion methods. Author Todd Borg is one of them. Last week Todd guested on my blog and talked about his production, his income, and his selling strategies.
We found out he’s not on Twitter or Facebook (GASP!), but his Owen McKenna Mysteries sell well in spite of it. So how does he do it? Personal appearances: this author gets around. And while it might not be for everybody, it works for him, and it’s worth considering.
Todd says, “Most of my return on festivals doesn’t come from the event itself but from Amazon and other sales down the road. I’ve even seen many of my reviews mention, ‘I met Mr. Borg at a festival…’ The festival is just one of several important steps (for me) in building a career. And the career, in the big picture, makes money.”
Are you game? Here are a few ideas about possible venues:
Most authors think of book-specific festivals when they think of direct-sale venues, and they’re a great place to start. Check out Jodie Renner’s comprehensive list of 2015 Writers’ Conferences & Book Festivals. If the booth price at the festival you’re interested in is too expensive, share with an author or two who write in the same genre.
Let’s face it, traditional bookstore-type book signings can be dull and the buzz is that they’re often not lucrative for the author. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them – especially locally – it simply means you need to think outside the box and make YOUR book signing special. Consider giving a talk, a reading, sponsor a contest, provide special giveaways. Although mass distribution to national bookstores remains mostly out of reach for self-pubbers (at this writing), local bookstores can still be approachable. Author Toby Neal wrote about her experience here: How to get your indie book into Barnes and Noble.
Book clubs, libraries, and service clubs
Local libraries offer all sorts of classes and entertainment, and there’s something going on nearly every week. Consider approaching your librarian to offer your services, then prepare a presentation – not just a book reading or signing – and use it to draw an audience, then sell your books in the back of the room. And book clubs and Rotary clubs are always looking for speakers!
Festivals, regional fairs, and specialty events
This is the type of event Todd attends most often. Art, wine, and harvest festivals are all a possibility. Farmers Markets draw large crowds, and since few other authors will appear there, you might have the readers to yourself. Think conventions, conferences, even rodeos and sci-fi confabs. Consider a venue that syncs with your genre and/or subplot or characters. Is your protagonist an avid gardener? There you go.
Todd Borg says, “… the great thing for introverts is that you don’t have to stand up and give a speech [at a festival], you just have to smile and answer questions. I don’t even introduce myself to passersby because that sometimes scares them away. I just sit in the back writing on my laptop, and wait until someone picks up one of my books. Over and over, I’ll be writing and a voice will say, ‘Working on the next book, huh?’ And there’s my opening.” Todd discusses his festival philosophy here.
5 tips to maximize the success of your event
- Promote early and well. Start promoting your event weeks prior to the big day. You may also want to advertise in local media and ask other authors to help get the word out to their audience. Call on family and friends for support and use your online connections. In addition, send reminders just before the event. Add the info to your website, your newsletter, blog about it, post about it on social media.
- Get good signage. Whether you participate in a public event or sign books at a table in a bookstore or library, you must provide visual clues about who you are and why you’re there. That means put up signs everywhere, including professional table signs. That way, attendees can figure out what you do at a glance.Choose good quality signage and locate a reliable discounted online resource for it (rather than a traditional printer) where you will save time and money. For example, custom table banners at eSigns can turn an ordinary table into an attractive display that will serve to highlight the event and promote your books.
- Prepare a talk. If your event is at a library, meeting, bookstore, or book club, prepare a 15 to 45 minute presentation. You can speak about your publishing experience, and describe your journey and the challenges you faced before you achieved your dream. If you write non-fiction, speak about the topic in depth and offer tips and advice. In addition, you can include a reading from your book.
- Take giveaways. Print up a small postcard or bookmark (yes, people still love them!) with your name, website book title(s), Amazon Author page, social media accounts, and/or thumbnail images of your book covers. Pass them out. You might be surprised how many people download your book following the event.
- Smile! Todd says, “… the role of exhibitor makes it easier to gradually move from being a shy introvert to an introvert who can, when needed, be gregarious. We’re all introverts. Otherwise, why would we choose to spend enormous amounts of time alone dreaming up our own little worlds? But we can learn to get past shyness. Check out Toastmasters – they teach even the shyest people how to be confident public speakers.”
Live, direct-sale venues are an opportunity to meet potential readers face-to-face. For your event to be successful, start in advance to inform people about it, arrange for proper, professional signage, and make the event engaging by providing an informative talk.
Readers, have you tried any direct-sale venues? If so, what was the outcome and if not, do you have plans to give it a go? Please leave a comment and share!
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