Well, talk about a snowball effect. Big things are continuing to happen might be an understatement. I got some really great and big news yesterday from my son out in Tucson. I’ve been reeling about it ever since! Thought I would share it with you guys, as an inspiration to never give up!
I’ve been struggling pretty hard lately to pick up steam. Looking for a single way that would work to bring in and increase book sales that wouldn’t cost hours upon hours of posting and paying through the nose for advertising.
If you have been in the writing business any time at all and have published at least one book, you figured out pretty quickly that marketing is a full time job and frankly expensive job all by itself. You can’t just write a book, publish it, and hit goals over night.
You have to invest time and money into the process and many times, it’s more for naught. I learned from a short stint in sales, with Mary Kay and at a job I held working for two sales guys, that the 1:100 ratio is pretty accurate, when you know what the hell you are doing. When you don’t it can be more like 1:1000.
I still can’t claim to have any real idea. I understand the process better, but I don’t have any clue as to what makes it work and what doesn’t, other than time and a whole lot of patience. A LOT OF PATIENCE!
The big news I’m about to share with you is a prime example of that. I’ve been plugging away at this marketing thing for a solid two and a half months. I went on a writing/publishing hiatus because I was struggling with marketing, big time. I had reached the point where I had 10 books published and none of them were doing much in the way of sales.
I was spending my days trying to create posts and advertisements that would lead to sales, inquiring about the best places to post them, downloading book after book, taking course after course, and applying the techniques, but nothing was really happening.
I say nothing was happening. I’ve gotten my books into more people’s hands since January than I had in the whole 2 years prior. However, I was giving them away for free, anywhere and everywhere I could. I set month long free promos, I created a bundle of my first 3 books and gave them away for free (I still am, you can check it out right here) and paid a neighbor to give out business cards with the link on them. I was leaving them with tips at restaurants, I was giving them out like candy.
The result, I was pulling $10/month in royalties, and freebies were topping out at 120 total a month. I was on the fence. That’s a lot better than some authors do but I was following and applying tactics laid out by people that were getting sales in the ten thousands monthly!
Let me back up a minute and interject something here. I prefer to do things the hard way. For some reason, unless I understand how something works, I usually have a really hard time wrapping my head around it and making it work. Then, I tend to break it down into parts and try to figure out a way to simplify the process.
For example, taking a 2 and a half month hiatus from writing and publishing to figure out the process of marketing, so I could figure out how to simplify the process. With 10 books out now, I really don’t have the time to create ads and posts across social media platforms daily for each book. I needed to get a handle on it, create a system that would do it and leave me time to do the actual writing, and have money coming in while I did. Well, the best way that I have found to simplify the process really is to throw money at it.
Herein lies the struggle. I don’t have the money to throw at it. Especially not when you add it all up. Facebook ads, AMS Ads, book promotion sites, review sites, business cards, promotional items, contests, it all costs and it all adds up. Multiply that by 10 books. I didn’t, and I still don’t have that kind of money. So, I’ve had to find work arounds, and be patient.
Yesterday, my patience paid off. Well, my patience and the amazing decision of one of my offspring to do something kind for dear old mom without even being asked. When I break it down, the payoff didn’t happen yesterday. That is just when I got wind of it. See, earlier this month, I got a new sales channel pop up on my dashboard in KDP. It was a red line, where prior to this I only ever saw blue, grey, and yellow lines.
I’d enrolled all of my books in Expanded Distribution, and out of nowhere, suddenly, I’d sold 2 copies that route. Holy shit!!! That meant, in my head, that my books were finally on a bookshelf in a brick and mortar somewhere. I never in a million years expected it to be what actually happened.
KDP doesn’t provide a name or a location, just a date and number of copies sold. Hell, they don’t even provide a list of places they could be sold. I’ve found them being sold a few places online via Print On Demand, but there is no “list” that I can find. It would make things a lot easier and awesome if they did.
Fast forward a couple of weeks from the day the sales showed up on my dashboard, to yesterday morning. I woke up to a text message from my son telling me he had some news that might interest me. I got my coffee and messaged him back, having no idea what to expect. My brain whizz-buzzed through a ton of scenarios and possibilities that all circled around what I know to be going on with my son.
It was none of them. When he messaged me back, my jaw hit the floor. He told me that the Pima County Public Library has 2 copies of my debut novel, Death of a Secret, available now. He knew because he was browsing through the online catalog and saw it.
I asked a ton of questions. Are you sure it’s my book and not the other book called Death of a Secret? Is it the ebook or the paperback? Are you sure it’s my book? I went on and on. Is it on the shelf? What books it is shelved between? Are there pictures?
My boy is awesome! He didn’t just say “Yeah mom, it’s your book”. He went and found it on the shelf and took and then sent me these! There it is. My book, on a bookshelf in the fiction section, of a public library in Tucson, Arizona.
I’m not thrilled with the placement of the sticker right between her eyes, but what can you do? Somebody at the library has to have a sense of humor, so I will too! Thanks worker at the Pima County Public Library in Tucson, AZ.
That is my beautiful and amazing boy and my debut novel!!! My two firstborns in one photo. Twins, 26 years apart almost to the day. July 25th and July 19th respectively. I am floored right now. I’ve been reeling about this for a solid 2 days, and I don’t know that it is going to go away any time soon.
I’ve finally got an updated photo of my son! I haven’t actually seen him in a few years now since we live on opposite ends of the country. He has never liked to be photographed so getting one is really rare. That fact makes this photo alone priceless!
My sincerest thanks goes out to him because this literally wouldn’t have happened without him.
Part of my struggle has been getting people to share and spread the word about me and my books. He took a few minutes on a whim to explore the library’s website and dropped my name and book title in the suggestion box page. I don’t even know when he did it and he can’t really remember either.
This is what supporting an author looks like. I’m struggling right now because of the 2,000 followers and friends that I have, over half of them are also authors. We support and encourage each other, but we are all on our own journeys to see results.
I would give my right arm to have every single book ever written by every one of my friends and followers. Maybe one day soon I’ll have made enough to be able to justify owning all of them. I won’t live long enough to read them all if I lived another hundred years, but I would certainly try.
This makes sharing an author and their works extremely valuable. My son, even though he has an idea of the value, he really has no idea the impact that this one small step, this few minutes he spent to suggest me to a library, will have on me and my career.
As such, I’m going to work harder to share other authors here on the blog. I veered away from it for quite a while because I wasn’t able to read all of their books. I can’t recommend anyone read something if I haven’t read it myself.
I can, however, recommend the people. The author’s themselves, because I’ve spent some time getting to know them. Some of them I’ve worked with, some of them have helped me out in big and small ways. All of them are great in their own rights, and that will often translate to being great writers.
So, stay tuned!!!