Today's MarketWatch article on the Borders stock conundrum has to give authors pause. The recession is already affecting us in numerous ways:
- More people are buying their books online, which means Amazon.
- With less discretionary income, people buy less books.
- As the article points out, unless your book is a bestseller, big box stores like Costco may not be seen at all by these readers.
- And those that don't buy, borrow: not only at their local libraries, but through online swap sites.
First and foremost, an author's goal is to write a great book. Once that has been accomplished, it has to be sold to a publisher. But the way we live now, the publishers are numbers crunchers. They applaud authors with audiences and promotional savvy.
Here are few ways to survive:
1. Pitch your books directly to librarians.
Whether to a reader or a library, a sale is a sale is a sale. Sure, the rationale is that you'd rather have readers pick it up in a bookstore, but let's face facts: many bookstores are cutting down on inventory, and may only order a few copies of your book, and do so only once.
In that case, libraries play in integral part in getting your book in the hands of readers—who may purchase the book anyway, or be on the lookout for your next book.
If you're thinking that your publisher's sales team already has libraries on their hit list, let's face it: your book may not be top of mind with them. Even if they did pitch your book, if they didn't make headway, or you didn't get reviewed in Library Journal or Publishers Weekly, then you're out of touch and out of mind.
To get on a library's radar (or better yet, on its bookshelf) get some information about your book in their hands. Start with you own library system. Introduce yourself to the circulation librarian, who is in charge of purchasing. Leave behind a flyer about the book (title, your name, ISBN, description, publisher's librarian sales contact, etc, link to an excerpt from your site), or bookmarks, which are always appreciated by libraries. You can also purchase a mailing list of libraries, and send out your fliers or bookmarks with personal notes as to why it's right for them. Maybe they have a large collection of thrillers, and you're a thriller writer. Maybe they are located in a market in which your book is based. Maybe you're a local author. Whatever hook you've got, USE IT;
2. Arrange off-site events, either individually or collaboratively with other authors.
You know the old saying: if Mohammed won't come to the mountain, then maybe the mountain needs to make the first move. If you book involves a topic of importance to a specific audience, make arrangements to speak to them where they congregate: bars, knitting clubs, history groups, libraries, scrabble groups, whatever. Being a guest speaker where you doing a reading to a group of 50 or more could net you sales of 20 books. What bookseller wouldn't want to be a part of that?
3. Guest blog on others' websites.
It doesn't have to be another writer's site. If you've written a tale that would resonate with fantasy basketball teamsters, give a tip that helped your hero, then link to your site or directly to your favorite bookstore online.
4. Create blogs for your characters.
Work the blog, too. Extend their storylines, or give them a backstory, in their own words. Your fans will love it—particularly when they get to talk back to the characters they grown to love...
5. Pitch all of the books in which you've retained the digital rights to programs that pay you for downloads.
Amazon's Kindle is a perfect example.
Hey, I know I'm not telling you anything new here. Sure, it's a hassle to promote yourself. But unfortunately, no one else is going to do it for you, so get on it!
IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED (HarperCollins/Avon, ISBN 0060815884)
What's it about?
Sex. Celebrity. Scandal. Just another fun day in Hollywood...
All over Hollywood, men are dialing O. Her steamy naughty talk fills them with lust and longing, and helps them perform like the studs they claim to be.
In truth, the industry’s favorite phone sex operator is Nina Harte, a struggling actress who has put her career on hold so that her husband, Nathan, can pursue his own dreams of stardom. When Nathan's career takes off, so does he, leaving Nina and their four-year-old son, Jake, for his diva costar, Katerina McPherson. Then "Kat 'n' Nat" are crowned the media's newest celebrity sweethearts, and Kat labels Nina an unfit mother in order to win custody of Jake, just so that she can have that highly-coveted celebrity accessory—an adorable child—sans any unsightly stretch marks.The one person who does care about Nina is Nathan’s agent, Sam Godwin. In fact, he’s in love with her. And because he has both a heart and a conscience, Sam feels guilty for having put Nat in Kat's path in the first place....
So how will he feel when he finds out that Nina and O are one and the same?