There was an interesting article in the NY Times recently about the increase in book sales in places other than bookstores (which is good … because bookstores are few and far between nowadays).
And this gets me to thinking about authors who are promoting their books themselves … which is nearly everyone.
Authors really need to start thinking outside the box in terms of who they’re promoting their books to, and how they can address those audiences through their website and social networking.
One thing that I’ve always promoted is authors speaking to educators about their books. For example, if you wrote a book on the Korean War, you should be talking to history teachers and professors about why your book would be a good addition to their curriculum. And not only should you be picking up the phone to talk to these educators, but you should be “speaking” to them online through your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc…
But now, this “outside the bookstore” idea is expanding far beyond educators. I talked to someone recently who’s writing a book about wine, and he envisions the book being sold at wineries and fine liquor stores throughout the country. Books about fashion are now popping up in clothing stores. Coffee table books are accompanying coffee tables in furniture stores. Cookbooks are accompanying cooking materials (pots, pans, etc…).
So how does this apply to authors online? Here are a few ways you can take advantage of this trend…
- Create a page on your website for these target audiences. So, for example, if you published a book about music, make sure you talk directly to music teachers, stores that sell music equipment, etc… on your website. Make sure this page is easy to find on your website, and use it to explain why such music professionals would benefit from selling your book to customers, and how your book could enhance the services they offer.
- Offer bulk discounts! There’s nothing that would make you happier than having a chain of stores decide to sell your book. And, lets say, each of their 100 stores wants to order 50 copies at the outset. That’s a lot of books sold! Make sure you offer a bulk discount for them, and put this information in a prominent place on your website. Who knows? That discount may just be what makes a store decide to go ahead and take the plunge.
- Join social networking groups. It’s now easier than ever to find people who work in the field that you’re targeting. So, for example, if your book is about high school sports, you can find everyone who works in Little League, sporting goods, etc… right at your fingertips. Search around on Facebook and LinkedIn to find groups related to these subjects. Then join these groups (after all, you’re an “expert” in the field if you wrote a book on it) and talk directly to those audiences about your knowledge and, of course, your book.
Focusing on selling your book to bookstores is sooooo yesterday. It’s just about as outdated as relying on your publisher to market your book. So take the bull by the horns and think outside the box. You may just find the audience that will make your book a bestseller.