Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You've Sold Your Book! Now What?

You’ve sold your book! Congratulations! Now comes a whole kind of work. (Oh, you thought that now you get to sit back and watch the royalties roll in? Sorry, not in today’s publishing world.)

There are fun aspects to getting published. A pub party, for example. Call your favorite bookstore and ask for the events manager, the one who sets up publishing parties. Explain that you have book coming out and ask if they would be interested in hosting a party for it. Be ready to supply them with a list of names and addresses of people to invite. They will add their own list of regulars and with luck, there will be a full house ready to greet you on the evening of your party. Be there on time, be full of good cheer, and warm up your signing hand.

Call the various branches of your public library and volunteer to give a talk on How to Get Happily Published. Or How to Write a Novel. Or Murder for Fun and Profit (if you’ve written a mystery or thriller). If you turn out to be a good speaker, pretty soon they’ll be calling you. If you get too many requests, announce you now have a speaker’s fee. Set it low -- fifty dollars -- to start with, then raise it until you have just about as many requests as you can readily handle.

Make sure your web site -- you do have a web site, don’t you? -- is updated frequently. As in weekly, if not daily.

If your publisher hasn’t set up a book tour, you do it. A national one is expensive and time consuming -- you are working on the next book, right? -- so try one covering just a few contiguous states. Get out the Atlas and lay out a route. Use the Internet to find and contact bookstores. Be friendly, cheerful and cooperative. Be sure your car is in good working order. If you can afford it, get a GPS. This might be a good time to tie up with another author and go on the tour together. You can work on a tandem talk that can be very funny and successful. I know a set of local authors who call themselves the Minnesota Crime Wave who are doing very well. Be sure to put your signing schedule on your web site.

I use homemade bookmarks. Some authors have them made professionally. Some authors persuade their publishers to make bookmarks for them. One way or another get plenty of bookmarks. Give one out with every book you sign. Carry a supply with you at all times to give out during casual conversations with strangers. (If someone asks, “What do you do?” you not only have an oral answer, you can hand them a bookmark.) Get your spouse to carry some. Leave a little stack of them behind at bookstores. Make sure your web site address is on the bookmarks. Be aware that while all kinds of advertising is good, that best sellers are made word of mouth. You don’t want someone telling a friend, “I read this great book last week, but I can’t remember the name of it, or the author.” Bookmarks, bookmarks, bookmarks.

Right now “Mysteries And” are big. Mysteries and cooking, mysteries and chocolate, mysteries and zoos, mysteries and needlework. If you’ve written one of these, try to get a signing at a convention of the “and.” I do signings in needlework stores, and the weekend of the 19th through 21st, I am going to be in Nashville at a needlework market, where shop owners will gather to see the newest products. I will learn about them to use in future books, and will try to encourage shop owners to carry my books as part of their line. One reason my book are successful is that I’ve managed to do this.

I’m sure I haven’t covered all the ways there are to encourage sales. Anyone else out there have some good ideas?


Betty Hechtman said...

What a lot of good advice!

Linda O. Johnston said...

And here I always thought, before I got published, that all you had to do was write a good book! Excellent post, Monica.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Gosh, Monica, this is such a great summary of the "next step." I wish I'd had it before my books came out!

signlady217 said...

Again, very good information to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing.

Monica Ferris said...

You know something, Joanna? So do I. My first series might have done a whole lot better if I had known then what I know now.

Monica Ferris said...

You know something, Joanna? So do I. My first series might have done a whole lot better if I had known then what I know now.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Monica, experience is truly invaluable, isn't it? You are so generous to share yours.

Helen said...

Great advice. I like the idea of going to "and" conventions.

Straight From Hel

Tara said...

Great reminder about all of the uses for bookmarks! Thanks for sharing.

Barbara DaCosta said...

Thanks Mary Monica, astute and timely, and with humor, no less!

Barbara DaCosta

Pamela DuMond, D.C. said...

Monica -

Great advice - thanks!

Never thought of the "mysteries AND X".

I joined your blog.