Frequently Asked Questions About Book Publishing:
There are so many people much more qualified than me to answer the most common book publishing questions I get. So, instead of answering them, I’m going to paste links to their information below and let them do the talking. These people I highly recommend.
This is exactly where I learned everything I know. When I was just beginning my career as an author, I knew nothing and I hadn’t a penny to spare. So, I rolled up my own sleeves and learned most everything on Google and from trial and error. That’s what I recommend you do too. If you’ve got more money than God and you want someone to just do all the work for you, there are legitimate people who can do that for you like Story Merchant. Other than that, I suggest you read every single post from every single link listed below. Do that, and you’ll know everything I know and more!
Here it is: http://jeffrivera.com/archives/book-publishing/
We are inundated with social media and advertising nowadays. It always seems that someone is trying to yell at us to buy something. And I really do mean yell.
Everyone’s trying to shout over everyone else to get our attention and we’re already busy as it is with our family, our career, our pets, etc.
That’s why those that follow my 4th tip on What Really Sells Books will find much more success: Slow Down
A personable one-on-one email or FB private message works. And I mean, a custom-made message; even if it’s only customizing the first couple of sentences.
Asking one person at a time, after you’ve gotten to know them, to read your book and review it or to buy it and then following up with them every couple of weeks until they do, works 100 times more effective than a Facebook update, a tweet or a BCC to everyone.
And when I say, “get to know them” I mean, you’ve spent at least a few weeks doing nothing but taking an interest in them and what they’re passionate about without even hinting that you’d like them to read your book.
I’m telling you this after having made that mistake many times in the past. I cringe when I think about the mistakes I’ve made in the past, getting too anxious or impatient or desperate. They didn’t bring me the results I wanted. But hey, everyone makes mistakes they wish they hadn’t so why dwell on the past? Just learn from it.
Then it dawned on me, especially looking back on the last 10 years. “It’s amazing how much you can get done when you … just slow down.”
The person that masters being personable, taking an interest in the other person first, growing the relationship over time, even if it’s just a matter of weeks, then ask for the sale, and finally follows up until they do, will be much more successful than the 99.9% that are not taking that route.
Yes, it’s slower. Yes, it takes more effort but it also works.
How long have you been a writer?
I’ve been a writer ever since I can remember. When I was very young, my mother caught me scribbling underneath the lines in a Dr. Seuss book and when she asked me what I was doing, I told her I was writing the story. Apparently I thought Dr. Seuss needed my help. I have always had the desire to create stories.
Why do you feel compelled to create stories?
I love creating the worlds, characters and stories that populate my mind on a daily basis. And it’s the only way to turn off the voices I hear. Yes, I hear voices—my characters’ voices. Sometimes they’re impatient with me because it’s not the right time to write or I have other priorities. But once I am buried in creating a novel, everyone is happy. Especially me. It’s the only way to shut them up!
What book are you most proud of?
That’s a hard one; it’s like asking a parent of 12 kids which child they’re most proud of. My “heart book” is WHALE SONG, and that’s because it has changed people’s lives for the better, something I never really expected. It has saved relationships and lives. CHILDREN OF THE FOG and SUBMERGED are probably my best works to date and both deal with fears that I have had—the fear of a child being abducted and the fear of being trapped in a submerged vehicle. The one title I am proud of because of outstanding sales is CHILDREN OF THE FOG. It is my #1 bestseller and has sold over 60,000 copies.
What do you credit as being the main factors in “learning” how to write something that sells?
I wrote short stories while in school and sometimes they were critiqued by my teachers. This taught me many of the basics. I also studied other great writers in my genre, like King and Koontz. I really absorbed how they put their sentences together, how they created tension, how they paced themselves. I took a journalism and short story writing course in my early 20s and graduated with Highest Honors and a 98% overall score. I joined various critique/writers’ groups over the years, read books on writing, editing, and more.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself as even more successful, with more foreign rights and audio deals. I feel there’s at least one movie in my future, maybe more, and that could happen within 5 years. And I see myself having made the New York Times bestsellers list at least once! I know…I have lofty goals.
From August 12-18, you are going to attempt to achieve one of these goals. Tell us about it.
August 12th is my 50th birthday, and I’m going to be GIVING AWAY gifts during a special multi-author promotion, in hopes of making the USA Today or New York Times bestsellers lists. I am one of 8 authors who form the Power Authors, and all of our books will be on sale for one week in August & September.
My week is Aug. 12-18, and everyone who purchases a Kindle ebook of my bestselling supernatural thriller, CHILDREN OF THE FOG, or gifts it to someone, could help me achieve my dream. The more copies that are sold from Aug. 12-18, the better chance I’ll have of making it.
How do we buy or gift a copy?
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Cheryl’s website: http://www.cherylktardif.com
Official blog: http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com
And don’t forget my contest!! I’m giving away LOTS of awesome prizes—including a Kindle Fire HD!
In this series of posts, I’ve been looking back at my last almost 10 years of working as professional author and reviewing out of all the things I’ve tried, what has actually sold books.
My motto lately has been, “promotion and awareness is great but what actually sells books?” The last two posts I covered two tips. One was the basics and the other was about doing book signings the right way.
This week’s tip is about something that I know sells books immediately, doing speaking engagements. And I don’t mean wasting your time trying to put together your own groups of people but rather speaking at pre-existing groups that are always hungry for new speakers.
My first novel was an urban love story. Yet I sold hundreds of books at Rotary Clubs all over the country. I was invited to speak as far as Nigeria. Rotary Clubs are generally local business people. So, how did I manage to book gigs there? I focused on my back story, of how I came from very humble beginnings (having lived in my car as a teen) and accomplished my dream of being an author. And this was before I landed the Warner Books contract with the same book.
I absolutely loved speaking to these groups all over the place and after my 15-20 minute presentation, I sold books in the back of the room. Usually on a bad day, half the people who attended bought copies but generally 70-90% of those in attendance bought books.
That’s my tip for you, find groups such as Rotary Clubs, Elk’s Clubs, Women’s Organizations, Business Associations that are looking for speakers. Send them a quick email introducing yourself and offering to speak for free in lieu of being able to sell books after the engagement.
There are a lot of details that go into doing this but that’s the gist of it and it works!
Next post, we’ll discuss a way you can sell books without leaving your house.
Last post, we talked about how doing book signings the right way, can sell books quickly. But there’s something you need to do first. You need to have the basics covered. Without these things, you have slim to no chance of selling books. Awareness is great, building a fan base is great and equally important but at the end of the day, we want to sell books.
Here are a few things that are very important: (arguably, in order of importance according to the way many readers shop)
1) A great cover. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a first-class cover. Whether you’re doing an eBook cover or a physical book cover, I’ve seen great covers for as little as $5. If you’re going to splurge on anything, I say start with a great cover. Without it, even the best story ever told, may not be looked at twice by a potential customer. If you have the talent to do it yourself, go for it, but most of us are not professional book cover designers and even if we are, we may not know how to design a cover that will sell a book to our particular audience. Go to Amazon or Goodreads and find book covers that you love but most importantly book covers from books that have sold well and give those samples to the graphic designer. A great book designer will know how to create a great front and equally important back cover.
2) A great description. You can be the greatest writer in the world and not write a great book description. There’s an art to it and oftentimes a writer is not objective enough about their book to know what elements of it that are appealing to their readers. Get help. There are many reasonably priced writers who’ll do it for you and if you have a small budget, trade favors with other writers you respect and ask them to write your description for you. Do blurbs work? It helps to have a couple of blurbs from famous people or those respected by your audience but is it guaranteed to sell your book? Not necessarily. Don’t go crazy. Putting a blurb by an author your particular audience has never heard of may be a total waste of time.
3) A great back story or bio. Credibility is important in your field. If you write medical thrillers and you’re a doctor, great! If you’re a mother of three or teacher and you write kids books, perfect. Make sure that if you’re using your career background for part of your author bio, that it’s relevant to the genre you’re writing in. If you have a powerful back story about what lead you to writing the book, use it. This too, should be written by someone else, if you feel that maybe you’re too close to write it objectively.
4) Professionally formatted. If your book doesn’t look like “a real book”, a reader may not be able to pinpoint what’s wrong but they will feel it’s amateur. Get a professional to do it or go online and get a template that will help you make your book as professional as possible. It doesn’t have to cost a lot but you will oftentimes see a big difference between hiring a professional and trying to put it together yourself.
5) A great opening chapter. I don’t know about you, but if I’m not hooked by the first 3-5 sentences, I put the book down. If you’re going to splurge on anything and you cannot afford to hire an editor for your whole book, get someone who’ll line edit and copy edit your first few chapters. They must be as strong as ever.
In my next post, I’ll talk about another way that sells books in 30 minutes or less — speaking engagements.
You can tweet ’till your fingers bleed but if you’re an author, at the end of the day, you want to sell books. What works? What doesn’t? What is a total waste of time and what brings results? In this series of posts, I will be highlighting tips from other authors and myself about what we have found actually sells books quickly, what takes time to build and what is a total waste of time.
Tip 1 – Book Signings
Social media is great but nothing works better than a face-to-face meeting with a live person when selling books and what better way than in a book store? Yes, there are reports that Barnes & Noble may close or be dramatically reduced and many indie stores are closing, but there are also many that are opening.
Most social media techniques take repeated efforts, awareness and exposure to sell books and there’s nothing wrong with that but doing book signings the right way is a way that will help sell books the first time you meet someone, even a perfect stranger, quickly.
Before you say, “I’ve tried that before and I didn’t sell any books”, please, understand when I say that book signings sell books, I’m not talking about authors that just want to sit behind a table and wait for people to come up to them.
There are details of how to set up a signing that you can find elsewhere, but I wanted to give you a few highlights of how to sell books with book signings, the right way.
1. Indie store or chain store both welcome local authors. Just talk to the manager or their events coordinator and ask them with a big smile when you can do a signing. Tell them that you’ll be promoting the event yourself.
2. On the day of the event, set up your books on your table, yes, but take about 4-5 books with you at a time, and walk around the store and introduce yourself to customers with a big pleasant smile. Tell them you’re an author who’s doing a signing, what your book is about and here are the magic words, “this book would make a great gift.” Then don’t say a word. Silence is golden and so is a great sincere smile. Stay there with them until they agree to buy the book. I mean, don’t stalk them or be annoying, just be “available”. Sure, some may politely shoo you away but if you engage in a conversation, even recommend other authors’ books, take an interest in them and why they’re in the bookstore that day, 9 times out of 10, they’ll buy from you.
3. Here’s the thing, you must stay in the store from morning until the end of the day if you have to, until you’ve approached about every customer that is browsing through the store and told them about your book, because you will sell every single copy. It’s very reasonable to believe that if you bring about 20 books with you, you’ll sell every single one of them.
I’ve done the above many times and even sold books in chain stores in airports doing the same thing. It works. It will sell books if you have the basics, which is what we’ll talk about in the next tip.