I came across an interesting article today in Publisher's Weekly. It was about Markus Zusak's 2006 novel "The Book Thief" surpassing more than two million copies sold. For the author that is slogging away at book signings, two million seems like an incomprehensible number. So, how did he do it?
According to the article, Zusak's publisher, Random House, credits " book clubs, community read programs, and passionate word-of-mouth recommendations."
In other words, the publisher and author targeted the niche audience for this book. Notice they don't credit Walmart, prime placement on Amazon's front page or a huge advertising campaign for the book. Too often, authors are looking for the whiz-bang flash of a splashy ad in a newspaper, or pin all their hopes of a bookstore chain carrying their book in every outlet in the country. There is much to be said for word-of-mouth advertising.
The author himself is surprised, saying he didn't think anyone would be interested in reading the book. He simply writes for the sake of writing. He has some pretty interesting comments beginning at 3:26 in the interview below.
Holiday Author Events: How to Increase Holiday Book Sales
By Irene Watson
Book sales are typically highest for most authors during the holidays so authors should take full advantage of the holiday season. Many avenues exist during the holidays to increase book sales and a little extra imagination can always help, while a lot of the possibilities can also be effective the rest of the year. If you want to sell books, the holidays are definitely the best time.
Any dedicated author who wants to sell books will make sure the months of November and December are filled with opportunities for them, and while it would be easy to let your book marketing go onto the back burner because of all the other busy activities surrounding the holidays, this season is often the one that can cause the biggest jump in book sales. If you want to sell books, here are some tips for making a fun holiday season also a profitable one.
- Plan Ahead. Begin in the summer or sooner trying to schedule your events in November and December. Many Christmas art and craft shows begin taking applications at this time, so to get in and get the best placement, spring and summer are the time to reserve a space. That said, often shows are not filled until the last minute, so never feel it's too late to call and try to get in if you didn't plan ahead. If you have a new book coming out, you might plan to release it in late fall-September or October are slower months for book sales, but a release at that time will give you a couple of months to plant the seed in Christmas shoppers' heads while catching those early shoppers, and it will give you time to build buzz about your book. Finally, the more time you give yourself, the more ideas you can come up with and the more you can refine them so they will be effective during the holiday season.
- Schedule Events Every Weekend. Whether it's a Christmas craft show, a church bazaar, or a holiday book signing, make sure you fill the holiday season with events that will draw in people who are looking to purchase Christmas gifts. The more high traffic the area receives, the better. While a book signing at a bookstore might seem like a good idea, more people are buying books online, whether we like it or not, so bookstores may not get the traffic that other places receive. A Christmas Craft show, on the other hand, can often generate traffic that numbers in the thousands. Furthermore, people go to craft shows looking for craft items and are often surprised to find books there, which are often among the more affordable items. You receive exposure there to people who might never go in a bookstore, and you are bound to be seen by people with money in their pockets that they are planning to spend. Any event in a mall is also a good idea during the holidays.
- Participate in Holiday Entertainments. If you've written a children's book, you might get yourself a booth at the mall when Santa is there so your target audience of children sees you. If you can find an open mike holiday event, such as a poetry reading, go and read from your book so people hear it and want to buy it. Is your downtown having a Ladies' Shopping Night? Then ask one of the store owners if you can sell your books that night in the store.
- Donate Books for Christmas Fundraisers. Christmas is the season of giving. You can give copies of your books to local charity events, whether it's the church bazaar, the local Toys for Tots or another organization's book drive, an auction of items for charity, or anything else that offers your book a chance in the spotlight. And don't forget that giving of your time is also fruitful. Participate in an event where you might not only feel good about helping others-whether it's the church bake sale, a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for the homeless, or any other event-but where you will also meet new people and you can tell them about your book-granted, the homeless might not buy it, but the other workers there might. Remember, wherever you go, many people will treat you as a celebrity because you are an author. You don't have to flaunt your book, but when people ask what you do, simply remember to say with pride, "I'm an author." Many people find it exciting to meet someone who has written a book, and even if you only get one interested person, that person is often capable of spreading the word to many other potential buyers.
- Offer Holiday Specials. Many ways exist to get people excited about your book by offering various forms of specials. If you attend a Christmas craft show, make a sign announcing you have an "Exclusive Show Special" and offer a discounted price for your book, or better yet, if you have several books, offer a "Buy Two, Get the Third Free" or other package deal. Perhaps you have an author friend who will share the book with you and you can have a special where the customers get one of each of your books as a special deal. Or if you have an artist friend, you could offer a discounted piece of art with the purchase of a book or vice versa. And don't forget your website! Offer specials there and send out emails to your readers, plus post messages on Facebook and other online places where you can reach your online readers to let them know you have a special limited time offer, or even that you are offering free shipping until Christmas. Anytime you can let people think they are getting a deal, they are more likely to buy.
- Be Cheerful and Festive. Exude the holiday spirit! Wear Christmas colors-red and green, or fun Christmas ties or sweaters. At events, decorate your booth with holiday ornaments, from a Christmas tablecloth, to giving away Christmas candy, or anything else that will attract people to your booth, putting potential customers in the holiday mood and making them feel welcome. Remember, nobody wants to do business with a Scrooge, much less read his book. A Christmas Carol has already been written. Now it's time for people to read your book.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.
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