Before I became a certified ghostwriter, I was just writing.
A “regular writer,” you would say.
The distinction is semantic right now, but I did write a lot even before I decided I wanted to have something published. Even in grade school I would write down ideas and tell stories to my family. And when my family didn’t like that, I ran around the backyard acting out these new scenarios. A very rudimentary method for developing a story.
And yes, I looked completely ridiculous as I did this.
Unfortunately, there is no video evidence…too bad.
But I took that storytelling spirit and put into writing throughout high school and college. I wasn’t too focused in those days so most of the ideas were just thought fragments or loose plots with a few characters roughed out.
Only after my wife gave me a book on writing did I look to write a real story.
When I was done I thought it was horrible.
I wasn’t finished though.
I wrote another and then a third.
I’m sure I have a fourth and fifth floating around my computer somewhere, but those have been tabled for now.
With these completed manuscripts, I sought out literary agents. A couple were nice and read the work, offering honest feedback. One guy was a complete jerk about it and didn’t give me the time of day when I pitched him my idea.
The next step was to self-publish.
I did this with the most minimum of effort and rushed the entire process because I had a daughter on the way. My rationale at the time was that if I didn’t do it now then I would never get it published because I would have a child to take care of.
Well, two kids later and I’m still doing this.
The two books didn’t go anywhere.
After two years of them sitting in obscurity on Amazon, I finally got a royalty check- $30.
I assumed that putting them out there would cause a tidal wave of attention and I could make my living off my published work. Clearly, I was mistaken.
There’s a fundamental rule I had to learn the hard way; if you don’t tell people about your book before you publish it, then no one will care that it’s there.
In other words; Market your book before you debut it!
…What I Should have Done
Marketing a book requires some lead time.
This doesn’t include the publishing process itself, but they can be done at the same time.
Anyway, marketing a book requires you to let others know about it before it hits the shelves, both in the digital world and in the real world.
Part of this is through social media, being a guest on podcasts, radio shows, and your local affiliate.
But another part, one that many authors don’t think of, is contacting purchasing agents and letting them know it’s available. You don’t have to sell the book n a phone call or an email.
No, there’s a better way to do this.
The Book Flyer
If I had been smart and done my research first, I could have created a good buzz for my book.
To do this, I would have made a book flyer.
The sample above is for one of those self-published books of mine that’s languishing in Amazon.
There’s the title, a quick blurb about the plot, a few reviews from beta readers (which I didn’t get), my author bio, and finally, ordering information (if I’d gone the print-on-demand route).
This is a bare-bones sample and can easily be made in Photoshop or PowerPoint. You can tell that I didn’t put a lot of time into it, but it gets the point across.
When it comes to your book, put in that time and effort and blow this sample out of the water. In fact, you’d better, because if I find out you read this post and then created a book flyer that looks like this one, I will find you!
But back to less threatening matters…
A book flyer is a simple tool, and when done right, it’s a powerful component of your marketing campaign.
Who Has the Power?
Marketing your book does mean you have to get out there and let people know.
I’ve mentioned the guest spots and social media already. I’ll circle back to those in another post.
There is also an unseen trove of people who can purchase your book. And not just one at a time.
These are purchasing agents.
A purchasing agent is the one who decides what to buy with the corporate credit card. In large companies, it can be a whole department. Government agencies also have these as well.
Don’t forget the purchasing department of corporate book fairs!
Go out and find them!
This takes time as you have to dig into the directories of companies and find the purchasing department. And even then, you’ll either have to call or email to track down the precise person in charge of making that decision.
For example; The Northside Independent School District is the largest school district in San Antonio and the fourth largest in the state of Texas.
Let’s say I have a non-fiction book that I feel high schoolers would enjoy reading or one that can be used as a reference in a specific subject, like debate. I never took debate, but I did substitute teach a couple classes. One of the many requirements for building an argument was citing sources. These debate students would fire out quotes from books left and right during their discussions.
With that in mind, a book entitled “Best Quotes for Your Next Debate” should fit nicely into a high school library. Northside Independent School District (NISD) has eighteen high schools, that means eighteen high school libraries my book can be purchased for.
I reach out to the purchasing department of NISD, or the vendor relations department, different organizations have different names for these departments. I send an email to their help desk asking who I can speak to about books purchased for their high school libraries. I get a response back that it’s the school librarians who decide what to purchase for their libraries.
Now I have eighteen people I need to track down emails for and send my book flyers to.
If all goes well, then there are eighteen book sales that will happen when my book debuts.
Just One Part
The Book Flyer is a powerful tool, but it’s not the only one you should rely on.
Your flyer will help your book a lot more than just putting it out on Amazon and hoping that people notice it.
I’ve tried that method and I can speak to its stupidity!
Listen to the Chirp.
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