Someone wants to publish your manuscript. Hooray! Break out the champagne and confetti! It’s every writer’s dream. The book is tangible proof of all your hard work. It’s a BIG moment!
As the publication date approaches, the worry begins. Will people buy the book? Will they like it?
The author does her best setting up book events and readings, asking for book reviews, using social media. She taps into her networks and informs her various communities about her book being published.
My communities include North Seattle College where I tutor, various writing groups (Hedgebrook, my personal writing group called The Cake Quartet, It’s About Time Reading Series, Jack Straw Writers Program, other writers I’ve met at various conferences), the ta’i chi group at Lake Forest Park, residents in my apartment building, my mahjongg group. I was surprised when I listed these various groups and began reaching out to inform them about my book. They were excited for me and eager to support my book.
I printed out promotional postcards and informational flyers and distributed them. I also gave them to friends to give to their friends.
So far, I’ve promoted my book in Portland, Seattle, and New York. I recently did a reading at Elliott Bay Book Co. here in Seattle. This historic bookstore is a literary icon, so I was very pleased to schedule this event!
Authors can do a lot.
However, there’s also a lot that’s out of their control. For example, placement of books on book shelves is up to the book store.
The more visible the book is, the better the odds for book sales. Because I did an event at Elliot Bay, they placed my book on the shelf for their book events. The top shelf is pretty nice placement! (I’m aware that this will change as more current events occur, but I can say I was on the top shelf at Elliott Bay, even if only for a short time!)
At Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, I’ve been on their bestsellers shelf since early June, at least that’s when one of my friends spotted it and informed me. I am
the store’s #5 bestselling book! Very cool for a debut book and non-professional in marketing. I guess networking works!
Here’s something else I do. I prepare for each book event with the intention to give my best reading. I hope to bring a piece of Hawai’i into the room, to interest the audience enough so they buy a book or two. Maybe for gifts.
I want bookstores to sell books, especially my book!
I arrive early so I can personalize the podium. Since I like colors, I bring a few things from home. A colorful cloth that evokes the tropics or a brightly feathered hula implement. When the audience walks in the room, they will immediately get a personal glimpse of who I am when they look at the front of the room.
Testing the mic and getting a sense of the room are also important tasks to ensure my comfort.
Bookstores and booksellers are an author’s friends. It’s important to have good relationships with them. I send thank you cards after each reading and let them know I appreciate what they do, that they’ve made the time to promote my book. After all, we are partners in this book business.
My book is now available as e-books in all formats. It’s wonderful to offer these options to readers.However, I’m sorry I cannot sign e-books.
It’s at book events, whether at stores, schools, libraries, or private homes, where I get to meet my readers. It’s very moving, both humbling and exhilarating, to see the faces of readers who have spent time with and money for my book, especially when they have connected with some part of my story.