In Your Corner: What Happens … After?

what's next

There’s a lot that goes into bringing a book to the point of publication … but there’s a lot that comes after, too–as you likely already know, since you’re here and reading this post.

So … where to start? Planning out what you’re going to do now that your book has been published–or if you’re one of the more prescient among us and are looking ahead, when your book has been published–is almost as important as writing your book. Not quite, maybe. You wouldn’t have a book to market if you didn’t actually write the thing, so there’s that. But it’s undeniable that a careful, thoughtful, and strategic plan for what comes after–after the writing, after the publication–is vital to making sure your book actually sells.

I have a couple of questions to help you get started, questions which might just shape how you go forward after publication:

  1. Do you plan on selling your book on your own at a local event or book signing? If yes, make sure to watch what your publisher charges you for book copies. There’s quite a lot of legalese and fine print to parse, especially when we’re talking about vanity presses and self-publishing companies which privilege profit over people. If you don’t understand immediately how much your author copies will cost, both now and in the future, it’s probably a sign that the company in question is trying to make it hard to understand. And that’s never a good sign. Go with a company which goes out of its way to make the author copy situation and pricing transparent and easy to understand! And one which offers you a consistent discount. No matter who you go with as your publisher, you’ll want some physical copies on hand. They’re amongst the best marketing tools you have!
  2. Are you planning on selling your book online? Watch out for the prices of other books in the same genre or content area; pricing your book correctly will go a long way toward making sure it sells. Don’t trust Google to answer the pricing question for you, either … thousands upon thousands of blog posts and pieces have been written in the past to explain the intricacies of the Amazon marketplace, but the situation with online retailers like Amazon and B&N is always fluid and changing, so even if we’re talking about an article written this year, the information may already be out of date. There’s a fine line between overvaluing and undervaluing your book; the former will cut into your sales figures, and the latter will make it hard to turn a profit, no matter how many copies you sell! The best policy is to do your own market research–and this is doubly useful, since you will learn a lot about how books similar to yours make use of the digital sales space–with giveaways, sales copy, and linkages across social media.

And look, it’s okay if you’re not yet through the publishing process. It’s always a good time to plan ahead. In fact, knowing what you’re going to do after your book is published will help you select the right publisher to fit you and your book in the first place! Before you open your pocketbook and give someone your money, you absolutely should consider all of the fine print and the advantages available to you … both during the publishing process itself, and during the marketing and support periods which come after.

Luckily, you and I both live in a day and age when there are plenty of options available, so you rather have your pick of the buffet. Some publishing companies are long on publishing assistance and short on marketing, and others are the opposite. Some offer stellar services across the board … but at a price which is too high for the average self-publishing author. And others … others walk the tight rope between quality services and affordability, and walk it well. The key to making the most of your money is to have a good sense of what has to come after publication, what you want to come after, and how your existing resources and skill sets fit into the picture. Your priorities are paramount, and have everything to do with crafting a solid plan for your book’s future.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 6)

goodbye summer

Summer’s Over … What Next?

Here’s a hard thing for me to contemplate, much less say ….

Sometimes, we have to move on.

And at the end of Summer, as we transition into a new school year and all of the challenges and possibilities which it has to offer, I think we have to consider the reality and visceral truth of this statement.

Sometimes, we have to move on.

There’s no better time to do it, really. Ending something, after all, is often a doorway into starting something new–and we all need a reminder of this every now and again, especially when or if we find ourselves stuck in ruts and looking for a way out.

Oh, don’t get me wrong–everything I’ve said throughout this series ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 ) is still true. If you have the willpower and the resources–and everyone has just a little of each, for sure–then you should definitely keep plugging away at marketing your existing, already-published indie books. You should definitely work on innovating your strategies. You should definitely think forward to the holidays now while you have the chance.

But also … you should probably end a few things. If you’ve been hammering away at the same marketing strategy for a while now with no change in sales prospects, it’s time. If you’ve been chipping away piecemeal at a new manuscript and have lost the joy of working on the project, it’s time. If you have been sending queries out to editors, agents, and traditional publishers and receiving only rejections in reply ….

It’s time.

Ending things–bad habits, dependencies, wish-dreams with no likelihood of fulfillment–is agonizing. I have no illusions about that. And it can be absolutely terrifying to cut off something now without a clear plan in place for the future. But if I’ve discovered anything–and I have some personal news to share in the days to come on this–it’s that sometimes you have to end a thing before you can really, truly, and clearly think about what comes next.

So here are my last thoughts in this series, where we have considered oh-so-many ways to sharpen your marketing strategies and hone your self-promotional skills:

  • Recognizing a thing as incomplete, unproductive, or simply “not working out” and deciding to end it is not the same thing as giving up. It’s giving yourself a new way forward!
  • We all face some tough decisions in the days to come, if the news reports are correct, and we simply can’t afford to entrap ourselves in habitual behaviors if they’re not producing the kind of results we need to see.
  • Y’all, our dear readers, give me constant hope that with a bit of diligence, a lot of pluck, and a community of writers and writing professionals to surround ourselves with, we can find a way forward, together ….
  • Even if it means ending a couple of things now.

What have you been trying for a while that isn’t working out? Is it time to tweak or a time to change tracks entirely?


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the outgoing Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

In Your Corner: Start Thinking About Holiday Marketing … NOW!

Remember our “Ringing in the Holidays” post series from late last year? Wouldn’t it have been oh-so-much easier to execute the perfect holiday book sales plan if you’d started just that little bit earlier in the year? Well, I’m here today with a reminder as you start to look down the barrel of yet another end-of-year holiday frenzy: it’s time now! If you want to put your holidays in order, you have to start thinking about your marketing plan today. Yes, in August. If not July!

So let’s make a plan!

First stop: Who’s your audience? You’ll be able to plan an effective strategy only if you know who your ideal readers are–or who their parents with the pocketbooks and credit cards are, in the case of children’s books–and where to reach them, either online and in terms of raising awareness about your book, or in person through events and a campaign that they can conveniently connect to.

Second stop: What’s your format? If your book is digital, then giveaways are a must. An absolute must! There are also some great freebies–free chapters, free peeks, etc–that you can do by integrating your material into your website, social media, and so on. Make sure you give your website a facelift if you haven’t in a while–you want to be ready for the holidays, not just responding to them when they happen!

If your book is print, then yes–giveaways are still a must! But also book signings, book readings, and perhaps even workshops and teaching opportunities. The more ways–and the more creative ways–you can put your book into the hand of a potential buyer, the higher your chances of actually getting that buyer to pull out the pocketbook! Print books offer a great opportunity to distribute shiny merch like bookmarks, postcards, and so on to readers–even when your book may not be present or being sold! Think of the places people pick up their merch–banks, hotels, libraries, restaurant waiting areas–and partner with local businesses to see about featuring your book in these places.

Third stop: Get a move on! By the time those holidays roll around–whether Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas–it’s already too late to put together a comprehensive plan to reach new readers at that time. You really have to think ahead! Which is why we’re here. We’ve been there. If we’re honest with ourselves, we still are there. We know what it’s like–but here’s a guarantee: if you plan ahead, you will sell more books than if you don’t.

Sure, we can take it easy on ourselves, and feed ourselves the same line we did last year: “Oh, but there’s always next year.” And it’s true, for most of us. There will be more time to perfect our methods. But for this book, and this year, there isn’t a moment to waste–and it really would be a shame to push back our perfect holiday season another year simply because we let ourselves off of the hook today. Because for as many wonderful and eloquent “New Year’s Resolutions” posts we put up here on Self Publishing Advisor that we really do intend to keep, there’s always something that gets away from us. So we keep at it. Better todays mean better tomorrows mean a strategically stress-free Fall and Winter 2017!

But don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m anywhere near perfect. All we can ask is that we get a little bit better every go-around, right?

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 5)

august back to school

The corn is well and truly in tassel, and fall is just around the corner, ready to crest the horizon. The evenings grow cooler, but there’s still the tang of summer smoke in the air–all the fire of a season packed with heat and mixed feelings–and it’s time to start thinking of how to make the most of August. Yes, it may be most often called the ‘back-to-school’ season, but we all of us go back to things in Fall. Back to work, back to family routines, back to the marketing strategies we … may … have let languish during the busy summer months.

How can we flip the switch and get back to work?

Here are my recommendations:

  • You’re not the only one who may need a reminder that change is upon us. Use August as an opportunity to launch a special deal or giveaway. You can frame it as ‘back-to-school savings’ or you can use it as a promo for new or upcoming releases.
  • Think visual. Fall is perhaps the most striking of all (or at the very least, one of the most striking) seasons. Take advantage! Your book is a product, and selling a product is at least half of the time about selling an image. If you haven’t created an Instagram and Pinterest, now is the time! These two social media platforms offer a great way of humanizing your brand and showcasing your product.
  • Fall is a great time to get your networking game on! People may not be thinking about taxes just yet, but you certainly want to get your foot in the door before the holiday craze so that they remember your name and your book come tax time–and come the holidays! Connect the dots between everyone you ‘meet’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and even LinkedIn and work those contacts and relationships now, while they’re planning out their budget, calendar, and holiday schemes for the school year.
  • And on that note, it’s time to plan your own editorial and marketing calendar–or at least to sketch out the outlines! Is it your hope to write some newsletters, blog posts, or social media updates in the coming months? Do you have some new work on the horizon? Now is the time to schedule not just your writing time or your own holiday marketing plan–it’s time to lay the groundwork for an entire year of editorial works!

And these are just a few of my recommendations! As you might expect, there are plenty of chances to enrich your opportunities during the Fall. Don’t put things off–start now! A hint of pumpkin spice is wafting on the rising breeze of Autumn ….


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

In Your Corner: Libraries, the book-lover’s paradise!

public library

Let’s face it, if there’s one place we go to find out information about books, it’s our local public library. Bookstores just feel like such a commitment sometimes, you know? But at a library, the art of browsing is elevated to an art form, and you can feel free to study the shelving arrangement, the genres, the popular nooks and crannies, the competition, and the various ways and means librarians use to “sell” their books to the public–all without feeling guilty for not buying something! In fact, if you’re “caught” browsing in a library and the librarians find our you’re a local author, you’re far more likely to get hooked into giving a book reading than you are to get shushed or to get side-eye from booksellers who really need to sell a certain number of books a day.

Libraries mean unlimited books and unlimited resources for free. And one of the best resources is the librarians themselves. Your local librarian can provide help with, yes, possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, as well as finding answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in that library and much more. Librarians are an amazing source of help and information!

What are some other ways you can promote your book by using the library?

  • Donate a copy (or several copies) of your book to the library. Be sure to go through the proper donation channels.
  • If your book is geared towards children, give a school library presentation on your book’s subject. School libraries are always looking for new books! Just make sure to reach out through the proper channels (i.e. through the principal and administration, as well as the librarian).
  • Connect with librarians via social networks. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are powerful ways to network!
  • Stock promotional materials such as flyers and letters at local libraries. Be sure to include of the essential information about your book such as subject, genre, audience and purchasing information. It’s best to ask if they’d be willing to stock these supplies on their “freebies” counter or in their brochure pocket wall first, just in case they need to check their policies.
  • Ask a librarian to review your book in a local publication. This will bring positive attention to your book and encourage other locals to buy it! You might even be able to get a librarian to review it in your library’s state or regional newsletter, which would encourage other librarians to buy it.

Libraries are a powerful part of your book promotion strategy. Creative marketing tactics can increase your chances of a library stocking your book. They can also lead to great relationships with librarians and readers. The best way to find out what your local library wants is to talk to the librarians. Work on building an honest relationship, and you may just find one your book’s best promoters.

Not sure where to find your local library? Hop on www.publiclibraries.com and search by city, state, or zip code–or you can visit the American Library Association (ALA) at www.ala.org, where you’ll find loads of information on the current state of libraries and how you can get involved, both as a self-publishing author and a lover of books!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author SeLibraries are a book-lovers paradise.  Unlimited books and resources everywhere.  One of the best resources is the librarian itself.  Your local librarian can provide help with possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in the library and much more.  Librarians are an amazing source of help and information.rvices for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 3)

Two weeks ago, I launched a new summer series on self-publishing, particularly as regards publishing and marketing your book during this busy time of year–and how to take advantage of our July theme of freedoms and independence while doing so! And I continued the series last week, with a discussion of unfreedom and what constraints are placed upon us as self-publishing authors also engaged in self-promotion by necessity. How does one market a book effectively, without the reach or access or time-honed skills of a publishing company’s full marketing team? (It’s hard, but not impossible.)

This week, seguewaying off of last week’s discussion, I’m here to talk about the freedoms which are possible when working as a part of a team. Not just any team, either–a team of self-publishing authors! Which I think you will find is something of a different proposition from a marketing team at one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses.

teamwork

But first, let’s dispel the myth of the solo indie author, struggling valiantly against the current of traditional publishing, and vanquishing his or her demons alone, without assistance, and for free. It may in fact be true that some indie authors make a success of themselves this way, just as James Patterson and Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling have made blockbuster success stories out of their lives in traditional publishing … all while conveniently ignoring the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of midlist authors struggling to get by, and required, despite their status as “traditionally published authors” to carry the majority of the promotional burden for their books.

Publishing is hard, no matter which way you go about it–and going solo, either in the publication process or all that comes after, harder still.

But freedom can be a collective achievement. You sacrifice nothing by teaming up with your fellow indie authors to sell your books! You lose none of your dignity, your creative control, your independence–your freedoms–but you gain oh-so-much-indeed! 

We’ve talked about the importance of book readings, book signings, and attending book fairs in promoting your book to new readers–but what if you didn’t have to go it alone? Many of the best readings, signings, and other bookish events I’ve attended have been panels, not singular affairs. Pulling multiple authors into one space, particularly indie authors, lessens the load on each participant while multiplying the event’s outreach. Imagine–even if all that happens is that your fellow readers bring their friends and families along, you’ve reached two or three or four times as many friends and families as you yourself were able to bring! That’s no shabby number.

Or, you might consider partnerships with local businesses, your public library, or events like our annual Cherry Festival as opportunities to build a coalition. Some of the fiercest book advocates are librarians and indie booksellers, yes, but don’t forget about the reach of a clerk at the counter of your local quilt store, or a restaurant with a waiting area! Your self-assembled team of advocates doesn’t have to be made up of the expected literary types; your team should make room for readers of all shapes and tastes, and partners who you normally wouldn’t think of. Once you’ve made contact with someone offline, make sure to make them a part of your online presence as well–either as a part of your social media network, or an email newsletter distribution, or something along those lines!

Lastly, you might consider going in for something like a co-op advertisement, something along the lines of this fabulous offering from Outskirts Press. In this case, you may never actually meet your fellow authors, but you’ll help each other out anyway–financially!–by reducing the cost burden on each contributing author. (And watch OP’s yearly deals, too–they often offer seasonal holiday-specific deals on their co-op ads.)

This is just a couple of examples of the kind of collaborative partnerships which can make your life, as an indie author, so much easier! Dig around online and see what suits you, but remember: you’re only freed if the marketing workload itself is reduced by your partnerships, so commit to projects with tangible and measurable outcomes, and clearly defined contributions.

 


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Growing Pains: Part VII

When a business starts to grow, it should reasonably take up more space. This could be space on your desk, in your schedule and just in your life in general. When something begins to take up more space, sometimes the next logical step is to literally give it more space. With that in mind, this week, I’d like to explore the topic of expanding your business to another location.

Because it is 2017, I’d like to begin by saying that this other location need not be in physical space, but can also occupy the virtual reality we all seem to spend so much time in nowadays. If you don’t already have a website for your books, products and services, do yourself a favor and get one. Online marketing is crucial in this day and age, as a significant amount of shopping done today is online. If you’re not online, you’re simply missing out on one of the largest customer bases there is, period.

Further, a website is not always enough. A lot of people get their news and advertisements and ideas of what to buy via social media, thus, expanding your product to these other outlets is a fantastic idea. The more your page is “liked” or “shared,” the more it will show up on more people’s feed, and the higher the chances you have of exposure for your business. Be shameless with the use of hashtags and tagging of people and companies relevant to your work. This is another helpful way for people to find out about your work. Expanding into the digital world has got to be one of the most profitable and lucrative moves you can make as a business owner.

If you find yourself needing to expand your business in actual physical space, this is a whole different ball game. Expanding in this way can be as simple as asking for a display in a lock coffee shop, toy store, library, women’s shelter, Post Office, etc.  Make sure your displays are aesthetically pleasing and call to customers who may not be in that establishment for books, but may find themselves picking it up just out of curiosity. You want your display to have the same zest and pull that you want your cover design to have. Get creative, handcraft a wooden display or ask a handy friend to make one for you. Your display should add to the ambiance of the establishment its in, rather than be a nuisance pile of books with an 8 and a half by 11 sheet of paper next to it scotch taped to the counter.

If you actually need more physical space just to store your back stock of products such as books, manuscripts, files, etc., consider getting a storage unit or devoting a room in your house to just that. Nothing drives me crazier than a bunch of stacks of books and loose papers in my work space, and I think creativity will falter in such an environment. Always give yourself the space you need to both work and operate as a business!

bookshelves
Filling the shelves.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com