By Elaine Viets
I’m a woman with a one-track mind. Catnapped!, my 13th Dead-End Job mystery, is published May 6, and I’ve been thinking about easy ways to sell my latest hardcover. I’ve updated my Website and I have a new book trailer. Brace yourself for a storm of BSP. I’m using my Website as examples for many of these tips.
1. Support your local bookstores throughout the year. Even if you publish only e-books, you need to hand sell your work. Cultivate bookstores. If you can’t afford a book when you visit, buy something you can afford – a cup of coffee, a bookmark or card.
2. Ask the store manager or mystery section bookseller if they’d like a copy of your novel or an ARC, an Advance Reading Copy or uncorrected proof. The key word is “ask.” Don’t just hand the bookseller a copy. Bookstore offices and break rooms are piled high with books and ARCs. Sadly, many of them are never read.
3. Your publisher may ask you to link to Amazon and barnesandnoble.com on your Website. Also link to at least one independent bookseller. Better yet, link to IndieBound. Check out my Website at http://www.elaineviets.com
4. Check all your Website links often, including the ones to your books. You’d be surprised how often booksellers change those links. Your site could be sending readers to buy remaindered hardcovers or used copies of your books. You won’t receive royalties for those sales. I have 22 books in two series and I list them in order. Readers love to know the book order. Check out my Novels page. http://www.elaineviets.com/new/novels/default.asp
5. Keep your Website updated. Add your new books, awards, short stories, and large print editions of your work. Have bios ready in three versions: 50 words, 100 words, and expanded. I have a Press section. http://www.elaineviets.com/new/press/default.asp
6. Invest in professional author photos. I know, you hate having your picture taken. I do, too. And your husband/sister/talented niece takes good photos. But you need a public face. Suck it up, and get the photos. Women writers, get your hair done and have a pro do your make-up. And please, don’t go a “glamour shots” studio for your makeup. A wedding makeup artist is a better choice. Put those photos on your Website so they can be downloaded by the media. Here’s one of mine – and I’m wearing freaking false eyelashes. I suffered and you should, too. http://www.elaineviets.com/new/press/default.asp
7. You cannot master all social media. Learn which ones work best for you – Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Pinterest – and don’t feel guilty about avoiding the others. My Twitter handle is @evmysterywriter
8. Your Facebook and Twitter posts should match your personality as a novelist. If you write funny novels, make your posts light and entertaining. Find me on Facebook at ElaineVietsMysteryWriter
9. Constant bragging and sales pitches can lose you Facebook friends. You’ll sell more books if you give your FB friends something to enjoy just for the heck of it.
10. If you can’t Tweet or post anything interesting, don’t post that day. Only your mom cares if you had a ham sandwich for lunch.
11. Never post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t put on a billboard. Facebook friends are not the same as real friends.
12. Resist the temptation to make political Tweets or Facebook posts. Readers want to escape politics with a good novel – yours.
13. If you don’t like a bookstore’s public relations person, sit tight. PR people move on quickly, especially the bad ones. At a local bookstore, the PR person wouldn’t even allow me to leave a mysteryfor the staff. He’s gone, and the PR person who replaced him is an author’s dream. He’s asked me to do two events at his store next month. Things can change for the better.