Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Marketing Books

The M word. That thing we authors must do if we want to sell any of our books.

My original plan for selling thousands of copies of Farm Girl was to get Costco to buy a whole bunch from WiDo, and I would do signings at the many local warehouses in Utah. My family knows most of the warehouse managers. One in particular loved my book and said, "I can see it on our tables." So could I. So could I.

There's a self-published author in my area named Mike Ramsdell who wrote a book called Train to Potevka. In 2007, he got it into one of the local Costco warehouses and in less than a year had sold over 100,000 copies while doing signings at Costco stores in the Western states. Now granted, Farm Girl isn't a memoir about a U.S. spy in Russia, but I figured if we did one-tenth of his sales, that would be decent.

Sometimes dreams do NOT come true. That can be a good thing. If it had gone according to plan, I would never have done the Nebraska book tour with my mom. Which turned out to be one of her dreams come true. Look how happy she is. At the age of 94, she went on a book tour across her home state of Nebraska.

 WiDo would not have gotten Farm Girl in independent bookstores from Vermont to California, because who needs little orders from little bookstores when you have Costco? And the WiDo sales guy wouldn't have made friends and developed relationships with booksellers who are still buying WiDo books and not just Farm Girl.

I wouldn't have gone after newspaper reviews because who needs reviews when you have Costco, right? I would never have started blogging or done anything online, because who needs social media when you have Costco? I would never have realized the need for an alternative online bookstore-- something cozy, exclusive, supportive to authors with generous profit margins for them. Who needs Celery Tree when you have Costco?

I don't like failure. It makes me depressed, angry, sometimes bitter, and always craving something with chocolate, butter and sugar, maybe with some peanut butter and/or walnuts thrown in for good measure. But once I get over all that and calm down, I'm thankful for the lessons of failure.

When marketing books, failure is important to show what works and what doesn't. Don't hate failure, don't hate marketing. It's all part of the game of selling books.

(This post was taken from a series I on planning a successful book tour that appeared on the Celery Tree blog.)

24 comments:

  1. Excellent that you can look at the positive spin on how things did turn out. And that time with your mom had to have been so incredible. She looks great, by the way!

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  2. I went, I saw, I learned. Thanks.

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  3. There is so much to learn about the marketing of books - thanks for the info :)

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  4. Your post highlights the 'small'things you can do to market yourself and your book which can lead to bigger things. Those baby steps, compared to the giant Costco-sized leap, added to a richer experience for you and your readers (and your Mom!). Congrats on a successful book launch! I saw no sign of failure in your approach!

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  5. Thank you for showing us the upside of failure! Sometimes silver linings aren't really "linings". :)

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  6. You went where you were supposed to go, doing what you were supposed to be doing, and you got to share the experience with your mom. Too cool!

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  7. I'm so glad to learn about the book tour with your Mom. That's a priceless memory for the two of you.

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  8. Your Mom's fabulous for 94 (mine's that age too, except she admits to being only 90). The tour you had with her was something to treasure! Congratulations on the book!

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  9. I'm not a published writer, but maybe some day I'll work my way to that point. Your posts have a lot of great information in them.

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  10. Sometimes it's the stuff we least expect that ends up working.

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  11. Great post Karen. So often our plans are NOT what has been planned for us. Good thing that.

    LOVE how it all worked out for you and being able to go on tour with your mom at 94. The BEST memories ever I am sure. Oh, how you've made me miss my mommy snif'

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  12. I hate failure when I'm in the middle of it, but it's interesting to look back and realize all I would not have discovered had it not been for some battles lost.

    Have a lovely weekend, Karen. :)

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  13. Fabulous post. Costco looms large over it, and I found myself laughing at the Costco Chorus. Still can't say that I'm glad that Costco thing didn't work out for you, but I'm glad about the rest.

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  14. Great information, stuff I can really use. And thanks for introducing me to Celery Tree. I'm interested in looking into it more. Every little bit helps when it comes to self-published book marketing!

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  15. Much, much better that you and your mom got to make the tour together. Sounds to me like things worked out exactly as they should have.

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  16. Forget marketing your mom looks terrific!

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  17. Most intresting on how to seel books, will take note,

    Yvonne via the A to Z Challengee.

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  18. It can't be a failure when you had such a great time with your mum. I can't believe she's 94!

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  19. Sometimes our plans have to take a back seat to what is necessary. Imagine a book tour at 94! We must not forget - it's the enjoyment of life that will keep us going strong.

    Hubby's mom is nearing 97, and lives in a care home. The care nurses say late at night sometimes, she tells them stories. These women had tough lives, and they do have stories to tell. Interesting stories.

    Nice M post!

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  20. Very informative and thanks for tapping into your store of wisdome and sharing it!
    XO
    WWW

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  21. This is a great reminder that we shouldn't see publication as the end. I guess it is only the beginning and the marketing is truly the most important step. Great post.

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  22. This was an excellent post! I self-published a book years ago on the disappearing wetlands and was able to market it through various government organizations as it was very political. Did very well with the book.

    Great tips, sounds like you had a great time with your mom to boot!

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  23. Great post and the fact you had such a fun experience with your mom - a truly wonderful bonus!!

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  24. You have some great advice and some practical lessons for a newbie writer, will have to take some time to work my way through. Have a blessed week. Amanda

    Amanda - Realityarts-Creativity
    Art Blog

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