Admittedly, I live in the middle of nowhere. It’s 18 miles to the nearest town; and the county, (which boasts a population of 13,000) has only ONE traffic light, and it’s in the center of town. My closest neighbors are 200 yards away. The nearest “city” of 30,000 people is a 40 minute drive. If we need to go to the “Big City,” that’s an hour and forty minute drive. Yet, I’m an author and I sell books.
No, it’s not easy either. I also juggle a 100 acre farm, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 3 horses; so my time is divided up amongst everything. As difficult as it is, I find the time to write, edit, blog, and promote my books. Sometimes I’m up late, other times, I’m up early. To make some sort of success, you have to make sacrifices. Am I successful? I would say for only being published just over 2 years, mildly.
For most authors, the word “market” is akin to a 4 letter word. We all hate it—me included. But we’re not part of a Big 6 publishing juggernaut that will tell the whole world about our books. No, it’s most of the time just us. So how can you market without spending a fortune? If the internet isn’t your friend, it darn well better be! Take advantage of every opportunity to put your face and your books out there. There are many platforms to use such as Goodreads, Google +, Librarything, and many more. Here’s my most-used list of FREE ways to advertise and make sales:
Facebook—my friend! I wasn’t keen on getting a profile, but my best friend pestered me. So, I broke down and got one. Actually, it’s been tons of fun. I have 3 pages: 1 personal, 1 author, and 1 page for my military thrillers. I can chat with friends, fans, and leave postings on specialty pages, (like romance readers, or sci-fi) and also put up announcements of when I will be releasing a new book. I post juicy excerpts from my current WIP on my author page to tantalize readers for what’s coming up. I can’t tell you HOW many books I’ve sold because of Facebook. Hurrah!
My other friends: Twitter, book retailer author pages, and Blogs—all excellent sources of potential sales. So what are the non-traditional means of getting your book out there? There’s a few, and some are quite fun. If you don’t mind devoting a few hours of your weekends, go out and search local Indie book stores. Chat with the folks running it and see if this may be an outlet for you. The big brick and mortar stores don’t want Indies, they want big names—been there, done that, got the rejections to prove it. Think smaller and cozy in this case.
If you fancy a glass of wine on occasion, find a good-sized local winery. I had the absolute BEST winery when I was living in NJ. We were already good customers, and when they heard I was an author, they invited me to come do book signings when they had “wine trail weekends.” Admittedly, it was loads of fun. Some weekends I’d sell anywhere from 5-14 books, other weekends, nothing. The best part was getting to enjoy glasses of wine with our friends and meet potential customers (and the wine helped relax me a bit!). I got my name and face out there, and quite a few took my business cards which I hoped would equate into online sales later. Since I’ve now moved to the middle of nowhere, I’m in search of a new winery!
A completely untraditional option for sales is going to flea markets, holiday bazaars, and places you wouldn’t expect to find books for sale. The trick is trying to find free outlets for sales. I went with my next-door neighbor and she loaded up 9 chickens in the back of my truck and we went to a livestock auction. Once there, she unloaded the chicken cage, and I set up my little table. We chatted with folks wandering the rows and did our best to sell her chickens and my books. In the end, I sold only one book, but I probably created a loyal fan because we stood and talked for over half an hour. Come to find out, he used to raise and train horses. Sometimes I find it’s not just selling the books, it’s selling you as a commodity. Face time, as much as you don’t want to admit, does help in the end. Always put your game face on no matter where you’re going.
In the beginning when my first book came out, I sat there like a bump on a log waiting for the masses to flood my table. Yeah, right, didn’t happen. What I discovered is 95% of the time when a sale was made, I initiated the conversation. It could have been as easy as a “hello,” or an even craftier one like: “So, what kind of wine are you drinking?” I know, that sounds like a come-on line, and that’s what you’re really doing. You’re trying to get the attention of a potential buyer by starting a conversation. In the case with the guy with the glass of wine, I’d seen him pass my table several times, each time, getting a look at what I had. Now, since I engaged him by asking a question (totally non-book related) he told me he was drinking a dry variety of wine. My reply was that I wasn’t a dry wine drinker, but my main character loves a good dry red. He picked up the book, read the back, and opened his wallet. Bingo! Being ex-military, I’ve sold quite a few books to other vets. The key is finding something common between you and your customers and then using that to your advantage. The more down to earth and human you seem, the more folks will talk to you.
And if you can, get one of those nice little plastic containers and keep a few books in your car. Yes, I’ve even sold books out of my car! I would be out, run into someone, start up a conversation, and when they ask where they can get my book; well, I’d politely say I have 1-2 in the car. I’d make a sale, and pass a business card as well, telling them where they can get other books if they liked that one. You never know when you’ll make that golden sale.
So there you have it, my free ways of marketing a book from the middle of nowhere. One day I suppose I’ll have to get a website, but as some of my friends know, HTML hates me! It may take 5-8 years to make enough from my books to supplement my retirement. Until then, I do the best I can with what hours are in the day. The most important part is being able to figure out which internet sites and “face time” places will do the best for you. Don’t be afraid to dive in and check a bunch of them out. It may be the one lucky break you need.
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K. Rowe has been writing over 20+ years. After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, she lives full time on a farm in Kentucky. She has 5 books published and nearly a dozen short stories. She writes military thrillers, romance, erotica, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. Her most recent book is a sci-fi titled “Space Crazy.” It can be found on Smashwords and Bookstrand for free. You can learn more about K. Rowe on her Amazon.com Author Central page. [subscribe2]