Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Overnight Success Doesn't Happen Overnight

Every now and then, I get a phone call from one of the authors I work with, and it goes something like this:

Author: "I'm really discouraged. I've been doing everything I can think of and my book just isn't taking off like I thought it would. I thought I would sell 5,000 books right away and be interviewed on radio and TV stations all over the country. I walked into 10 different bookstores today to see if they were carrying my book, and I didn't see my book in any of them. I'm just going to give up and let you take care of selling my book for me."

Me: "How long ago was your book released?"

Author: "Three months."

I'm sure you can see the problem here right away. The author is expecting to become an "overnight success." However, overnight successes are actually very rare in the publishing industry, particularly new authors who have just published their very first book.

As I have stated elsewhere on my blog, I am currently working on a marketing guide for authors called "Your Book is Your Business." The reason I chose that title is because when you become a professional writer and author, your book really is a business. It takes time to grow a business and make it a success. It also takes time to build readership and generate book sales. Neither of these things happen overnight.

When I get these phone calls, I give the authors three pieces of advice...advice I wish I would have gotten when I first entered the broadcasting business more than 20 years ago, because a lot of this is applicable.

1. It isn't going to happen overnight. When a book is first released, that is just the first step. Bookstores don't automatically know your book has been released. There were more than 500,000 books released in the US last year, and bookstores can't possibly track them all. They just can't. The marketing plan is geared toward creating demand for your book, and that takes time. Besides, there may be better places to sell your book than bookstores.

2. You have to be persistent. If you give up on your book after a few months, what then? Nobody will care about your book more than you. You wrote it. If you throw in the towel before giving your book any real chance, you'll never know how successful it could have been if you had just kept at it. Some of the authors I have been working with for four years are just now experiencing some real success with their books. What if they had given up a year ago?

3. There is always something you haven't tried. It may seem like you have tried "everything" to get your book noticed, but that probably isn't the case. I sell books for a living, and I learn new things every week. I don't mean authors should run out and spend money on classes that promise they can make your book an bestseller. Explore new markets and audiences for your books that you may not have considered before. If every signing you have done has been at a bookstore, try some non-bookstore venues. If you have a children's book, go where the children are: daycare centers, toy stores, schools, etc. Kids don't have credit cards, but their parents do. How else would the kids get all those video games they play? There is always a new marketing avenue an author hasn't tried. If what you have tried up to this point hasn't worked, why keep repeating the same action?

With patience, persistence and a willingness to try new things, you really can achieve new levels of success with your book.


Jeff King said...

Great advice, hope I have to worry about that stage of writing someday...

Shay said...

This is on point. I recently hosted a book signing at a burger diner - no connection to the theme of my book, except my target demo frequents this place. So I did rather well on sales!

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