In the same issue of Book Business that I referred to last week, Peter Hildick-Smith also gives publishers this tip in his article, Fourteen Tips to Increase E-book Sales:
Earn personal recommendations. A large enough initial group of people have to first read and love a book before there are enough recommenders to make a difference in the book’s later sales. Personal recommendations are earned, not created. Before that can happen, the book has to be discovered, interesting enough to buy, and a strong enough read that the reader will be moved to want to share it and recommend it. Make sure that those who are most likely to respond to a given book’s topic of story have every chance to discover and read it.
When I first received my load of books, I think I was too stingy with them. Sure, I slated some of them for review and giveaway purposes, but in retrospect I don’t think it was nearly enough. Especially as a first-time author, it takes a lot to establish credibility. Since my target is the homeschool market, I should have come up with a list of 200 influential people in the homeschool world who would agree to review my book and publish their review either on-line or in print. Instead, I think my list was closer to 25. We’ve made up for it some over the last year and a half, but there is a certain momentum when a book is first released that is forever lost after several months have passed.
So, if you’re still looking toward a future publication of your book, make that list of a couple hundred influencers in your field and be sure that your budget includes the cost of those books plus shipping. Getting your name out there is a long, grueling process, so the more you can connect with people and build a coalition to help you in this arena, the better!
All the bubble mailers and labels arrived at the end of last week, so I designed a shipping label template and printed off several dozen. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been contacting people (and people who know people!) to line up potential endorsers for my book, Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate. I printed off all the letters yesterday, wrote names and addresses on the shipping labels, and got the packages ready to go.
Now all I have to do is…wait. The short run of books should arrive today or tomorrow. When they do, I’ll be ready to drop them in each package, and run them over to the post office. Then, all I’ll have to do is…wait. I’ve set a deadline of March 15 for the endorsements. Whatever I receive back by then will be incorporated into the final design, and everything will be off to the off-set printer. Then all I’ll have to do is…wait. About one month, to be approximate, until the books are all printed and ready for distribution. I really want everything to be done right now. But instead, I’m working on developing patience. I’m learning that successful self-publishing requires lots of praying, lots of working, and lots of…waiting. 🙂
Like any good child of the 20th/21st century, I’ve grown up depending on e-mail as my primary mode of communication. It’s so convenient – you can do it at any time of day or night, it can be personal or formal, and best of all, it can help you avoid the awkwardness of “cold calling.” For some reason, it just doesn’t seem as painful to be rejected by e-mail as it is over the phone. But that’s the catch. For some reason, it also seems easier to reject the requests of others via e-mail. The handy delete key can be dutifully employed and no one’s feelings have to be hurt. Instead, one is left wondering whether the e-mail was properly transmitted, whether the intended recipient viewed it, whether they are just busy and haven’t gotten around to replying yet, or whether they have indeed rejected the request and deleted it altogether.
Thus I have learned the value of a simple phone call. In my process of soliciting endorsements for Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate, I’ve sent out numerous e-mails. Most went unanswered. However, last week, due to a tip from a friend, I made a phone call to an organization where a person from whom I was hoping to secure an endorsement works. After a brief conversation with his assistant, I sent a follow-up e-mail with the promised additional information and links. Later that afternoon, an endorsement arrived in my inbox. I was shocked! And regretful of my frequent hesitation/refusal to make phone calls.
So yesterday morning, I performed the much-disliked task of calling all the other endorsers from whom I had not heard to follow-up on the e-mail I sent weeks ago. And you know what? I didn’t get a single rejection. Every person with whom I spoke was friendly and receptive. But best of all, now I have a full list of names and addresses of people who are eagerly waiting to receive an Advance Review Copy of my book as soon as it’s printed and ready to go! 🙂