About Writers, book promotion, book sales, publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

What Happened

Traditionally, publishers sold books through bookstores, book distributors, mass market retailers, book clubs, even, sometimes, to organizations wanting a promotional tool. (Wells Fargo, for example, might buy 5,000 books on stage coaches.) Sales representatives, working for publishers and independent sales groups, attended industry sales conferences and made calls on retail buyers.
Authors wrote books and received royalty payments on their book sales.

Amazon changed all that. Today, authors list their book on a website with 11 million other books in the hope that individuals will find and buy it.

We have gone from a powerful industry selling books to a website listing.

That’s what happened.

What can we do about it? Obviously, success requires more than one author selling to one reader at a time because readers only buy one book. We ain’t selling Hershey bars. Our reader won’t come back for a box of the same book.

The idea here is to build a list of businesses and organizations which have the potential to buy, or distribute for sale, many copies of the same book. Yes, we still have bookstores, book distributors, mass market retailers, book clubs, even organizations wanting a promotional tool. But without a big publisher’s clout, how does any writer market to them?
And, are there other organized groups that we can target to help sell our book?
Any ideas? Perry Palin 🙂 ? Anybody?


21 thoughts on “What Happened

  1. mimispeike says:

    I don’t know this from experience, but I’ve read that small, independent bookstores will often carry a book by a local author. The next town over, Bethel, Ct, has several, and there is a long-standing, famous one up in Washington Depot.

    “The idea here is to build a list of businesses and organizations which have the potential to buy, or distribute for sale, many copies of the same book.”

    A tie-in might get results. If you have a book on business strategies, a professional organization might put your name in front of their membership.

    I’m going to approach atheist organizations with my free-thinker (atheist) cat. It may get me some publicity, if nothing else.

    If you belong to a book group, Romance, for instance, you could perhaps team up to rent/man a booth at a romance convention, of which I’m sure there are many.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Perry Palin says:

    Man, GD, you called me out by name!

    I don’t have any good ideas.

    My friend Charlie wrote a children’s book about his dog on his apple farm. He sold the book through his own farm store, at farmers’ markets, at local bookstores, on a website (though that produced few sales) and at appearances at elementary schools that buy his apples for their lunch program. None of these yielded a ton of sales, but taken together, they provided a tidy profit.

    I was in a small town food co-op yesterday and found a whole shelf of books by local authors. I didn’t buy any, though.

    A poet I know was stunned when his publisher got an order for 140 copies of one of his books. Who buys 140 copies of a poetry collection? It was a university bookstore, and the poet assumed a writing professor had chosen his book as assigned reading in one of his classes.

    Liked by 5 people

    • victoracquista says:

      If you can get in with BookBub and it’s a big if. They reject more books than they accept. Often, they are marketing discounted books. There are many, many book promotion services and I’ve used a half dozen or so with mixed results. To GD’s point, marketing books to individuals is tough. BookBub and other promotional services have lists of individuals that books are promoted to. The bigger the collective on the list, the more people theoretically reached. What other collectives are out there and how can they be marketed to?
      A number of years ago, I had the notion that incarcerated people probably had a lot of time to read. Would it make sense to reach out to prisons to market my books? I had a friend who worked in corrections at a high level. He told me that most books prisoners have available to them are donated. Scratch that organized collective. Still, the concept is sound.

      Liked by 2 people

    • atthysgage says:

      Bookbub has the most clout. Unfortunately, they are so much in demand it is nearly impossible to get a listing. (And they are expensive. Obviously there is no shortage of people willing to spend hundreds of dollars to have their books listed) I’ve tried several times, and always been told that my book didn’t have enough reviews or it was too old or whatever.

      Liked by 3 people

      • GD Deckard says:

        Interesting, Atthys. It sounds like Bookbub is at least trying to only take money for books they think they can sell. I’m not sure how well, though. Based on Facebook comments, few if any have made a profit using Bookbub. I don’t suppose Bookbub posts average ROIs or any data on how well their customers do.

        Liked by 1 person

        • atthysgage says:

          They used to do that, at least an average response based on genre and price point, but of course there’s no way of verifying the information. And they definitely are most interested in books that they expect a big response to. (I’m not sure why. My money is as green as John Grisham’s). Likely, they’re losing some of their impact as time has gone by. I haven’t checked them out for quite a while.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. mimispeike says:

    The big advantage to being traditionally published is not the marketing push, or the clout with bookstore chains, it’s that those books are more likely to be considered for a review in the mainstream press, whether a hard copy magazine or a big-name, wide-following website. I have discovered, and bought, and read, many things that way. You need a review from a source that you trust not to be biased, whose judgement you have faith in.

    When I’ve read about a book, know it exists, I have many a time jumped onto Amazon and bought it. A lot of what I’ve bought would not be found in most bookstores (History of the Early Modern Stage, etc.) so I don’t see an in with bookstores as being all that valuable. Make your presence known, one way or another, with a good blurb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perry Palin says:

      The Minneapolis paper is one that still publishes their own book reviews, rather than reprinting reviews from other sources. I heard the book editor speak one evening saying that she gets a shopping cart of new books every week. She reviews a book or two herself, and chooses others to send to part time staffers. She said that it wasn’t fair, but she will never review a self-published book. She has to choose somehow, and self-published books are automatically set aside. Reviews are generally written on a small part of the books sent by publishers and/or agents that she knows.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mimispeike says:

        I know it has to be a tiny percentage of traditionally published works and no self-pubs unless you’re Hugh Howey or Amanda Hocking. In which case, you may be covered as a literary event, rather than your work commented on.

        BTW, I have access to all of Hocking’s trad published work at my job. I’ve brought several of them home, as research. But I haven’t talked myself into reading them. I don’t have an idea in the world of what her editorial reviews are like.

        I’ll try to drum up publicity in other ways. My number one strategy is still the bumper stickers.

        Ain’t this a bitch? Why do we do it? As Steve Jobs said: Here’s to the crazy ones.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. atthysgage says:

    I’m thinking for my next book, I need to do something entirely different. Ignore all the conventional wisdom and just fling it out there. Unfortunately, I have no idea what my trebuchet shall be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      (Grumbles at having to look up “trebuchet.”)
      We could throw in with Mimi & share the costs of a plane for dropping leaflets, and, share the fine for doing so.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. mimispeike says:

    I’m going to submit chapter one of book three to ‘The Junction’ on Medium. They, like everyone on Medium, want short pieces, but I observe that they are open to individual chapters presented as a series. They ask for a link to a draft, so I’ve been wrestling all afternoon with a WordPress site for Sly. I tried five or six of their templates, no luck, wasn’t happy with what I managed to create.

    I finally have a decent look, and it’s on one of the free (!) templates. I’ve dummied in some type treatments, gotten something I can live with (for starters) and I’m ready to go.

    This is my project for the week (I’m on vacation): to get that site going. I’m going to create additional sites and try to get the hang of those fancier templates. I couldn’t get anything close to the looks they offered as examples. Is a puzzlement, for sure.

    When I’m really pleased with what I’ve got I’ll upgrade to the paid site and drop the .wordpress from the name. The name of the site will be MyGuySly.com. It’ll look good on a bumper stick, eh?

    My next goal: to create the bumper stickers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Perry Palin says:

    I’v got to get out more. Yesterday I was walking through a fly fishing expo in St. Paul, MN, waiting for the time when I would introduce two of the breakout speakers. One guy bought the copy of my book that I was carrying in my bag, three others asked me when my next book was coming out for crissakes, and the leader of an authors’ breakout told me I had to come back this morning to his session and bring books. We’ll see, but it’s nice to be recognized.

    Liked by 4 people

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