This week, 250 books arrived at my door by UPS. I thought it was a good idea at the time to order so many copies of my debut novel, but it's been several days and the boxes are still sitting there by the door, taunting me into a frenzy of mixed emotions every time I pass by. However, in this journey to become an independent author, there is one thing that I know to be true: books do not sell themselves. I needed a plan.
Although I am primarily focused on ebook sales, print books still have a very important role to play in book promotion. So here's what I'm going to do with my first 250 copies.
1. Close friends get free copies. I know it's an easy sell to have my friends and family buy my book because they are so incredibly supportive of me, but giving them a free book is like a 'thank-you' note and also a reminder to me that I need to keep building a fan base to allow me to have a successful writing career. However, to stay business focused, I stuffed each book with a 50%-off coupon for an ebook and asked that my friends pass it on to another reader who would enjoy the book, too.
2. 50 copies for my publicist. Yes, I have a publicists, and yes, it's expensive but worth it. It's incredibly difficult to be a cheerleader for your own book, plus I don't have the media/blogger/industry contacts to really make a dent in the promotion needed. So I have handed this one task over to the professionals (thanks Smith Publicity!)
3. 100 copies for my book launch and consignment. The best thing you can do with your book is promote it in your local market at a bookstore, where it's likely to get traction in the press because you are a 'local' author. And since ebooks don't promote or sell well in bookstores, a paperback version is a must-have. Thanks to the great people at Chapters Indigo, I'm planning a book launch at Chapters Rideau (Ottawa) near where I currently live, and another launch in my hometown (and near the actual setting for the book) at Chapters Moncton. Then for the next few months, the books will sell on consignment as people hear about the book and come to the store looking for it.
4. 10 books for a Goodreads.com giveaway contest. I signed up this week for a 10-book giveaway and I already have over 230 people submitting their name to win a book and the list keeps growing. Plus, over 100 people have added it to their 'must read' list. This organic promotion is turning out to be quite valuable!
5. 25 books for writing contests. Winning a book contest can be a big boost for book sales from all the free promotion. There are several great contests open to independent writers in Canada, the USA, and internationally.
By the time I get through all these initiatives, I'll have cleared out all the boxes of books in my entryway, and the added promotion from the paperback giveaways will have hopefully increased ebook sales, too!
Stacey Atkinson is the author of the novel Stuck, released through her independent company Mirror Image Publishing.