Thursday, March 13, 2014

13 Ways to Sell More Books

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.

Catnapped!

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

HomeMain_03

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

Elaine

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.

American-Ham-Sandwich

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.

19 comments:

  1. These are great tips, Elaine, especially the one about checking the links on your website. I always forget to do it periodically. And good point on the bio. A librarian recently told me authors should have a long and short bio available on their press page.

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    1. That librarian gave good advice, Nancy. It saves us time, too. A reporter can simply grab our bio and use it.

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  2. Thanks, Elaine. Good tips and timely.

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  3. Hope you'll find them useful, Amanda.

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  4. Thank you, Elaine. These are great, and practical, tips. For me, the good news is I already do most of what you recommended. The better news is, I now have more ideas of things to try that I can easily handle. Talk anout a win-win.

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  5. Let me know if they work for you, Dana.

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  6. Elaine, I like that you have all three bios on your webpage. As a former reporter, I know that is very convenient. However, I noticed all three focused on you as a writer. They didn't include a quick summary of your life or more information about you beyond your writing life. Do you feel people wouldn't be interested or do you just want to keep that private?

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  7. I'd like to keep that private, Eric. Too many trolls on the Internet. If a reporter wants to ask me questions about my life, I'll be happy to answer them.

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    1. Good point. Have fun at the festival.

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  8. Off to the Lake County Reading Festival, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. Speaking as a reader, #12 is SO true. I know lots of writers whose politics I disagree with, but I don't care as long as you don't hit me with it A) on Twitter, or B) in your book. I know (sorta) two authors whose books I'll never touch again because the character is so ridiculously politically biased (the super do-gooder who can do no wrong against the villainous 'other guys').

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  10. Speaking of fake eyelashes, I finally went the pharmaceutical route on the lashes thing, and am now using Latisse. It works, but I do have to check the mirror from time to time to make sure it's not turning my blue eyes brown! Yes, we do suffer for photos! :)

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    1. Hm. I've always wanted blue eyes, Kathryn, but I think I'll try blue contacts instead.

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  11. For you series writers, you would be amazed how hard it is to find out the order of a series. Having them in both publication order and reading order if it is different (for example, you slipped in a prequel to #3 between #7 and #8.) Don't make me hunt for it.

    Terri

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    1. It is annoying, Terri. We'd like to get our publishers to put a big number on the book covers, but not luck so far. I rely on bookmarks with the book order and it's also on two places on my Website.

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  12. I can see that I will need to take a course on Tweeting and FB postings. Wringing my hands just thinking about it. I can never find anybody on FB. Apparently, you need to know their actual FB name to find them. What good is that? I'm clueless.

    Good point about series books, Terri. Why do "they" intentionally make it confusing and difficult? I'm going to put huge numbers on mine.

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    1. I got a tutorial from a savvy college student, Jim. Highly recommend this route.

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  13. You've got some great tips here!! Thanks!!

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  14. Excellent tips, Elaine! Thanks for sharing your hard-earned wisdom! :-)

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