Let’s Talk about Selling and Other Stuff

Marketing, promotion and selling are all separate activities with the same goal of Increasing your market share, and thus your profitability.

Nobody has ever accused me of being a guru in any of those fields, which is a good thing, because I am not. But there are plenty of people out there who are, and you need to find someone who can help you market, promote and sell both you and your books.  A quick Google search for “Book Marketing” should do the trick nicely, or at least get you started in the right direction.

As an independent, self-published author, you and only you have the responsibility of making your ends meet. You not only have to produce work that is sellable, you have to sell it.

But first, you have to sell yourself. You need a ‘Brand’, something that sets you apart from other authors who write in your genre, whatever it may be. Something that will connect you in the reader’s mind with stuff he or she already likes and trusts. Something that will encourage your potential customer to become a happy and satisfied buyer of your product (your book or your books).

Get on the radio. Literally. Get on the radio. Do live interviews to promote yourself and your upcoming novel. Promote a book signing or a local event where you will be selling.

Your web site (if you don’t have one now would be a very good time to set one up) has to reflect that brand. If you blog, your blog has to reflect that same brand. If you write articles and get them published they,too, have to reflect that brand. Your goal is to make sure that wherever your potential target audience looks they see your name and your brand.

Contact a few book/author bloggers and arrange a small blog tour to get your feet wet. It’s all marketing. You can also use these same venues (radio and blog tours) to promote a promotion on your web site. Tell the listeners/readers about your promotion, what you want from them and what they’ll get in return, and how to participate. Keep it simple, keep it easy and make it sound like fun.

That way they will begin to associate your name with something they like and prefer above other competing authors and their works.

You can spend lots of money on setting this up, or you can do it with very little money and lots of time and research on your own. But you’d better get started, because every minute your books are not selling, other authors are, and they are taking money from customers that you would rather went into your pocket, and they are building a successful brand while you are sitting around trying to figure out just what in the heck a brand is and what it can do for you.

Marketing is the process of building relationships with members of a target audience.

Promotion is one means of getting your product into the hands of your target audience. You give stuff away in return for a few minutes of your target audience’ time. Time in which your product is in front of their eye, eyes which may have never given your product a moment’s attention before.

Set up a contact form on your web site. In return for filling out the form your target audience receives something. Perhaps a free download of one of your novels or sample chapters or a chance to win a signed copy of your novel. What you get is their contact information and the right to mail them updates on the publication of your next novel.

You are building a relationship with someone who has never met you or read anything you’ve ever written.

Selling is the art of convincing a potential customer that your product has sufficient value to them that they become willing to part with their hard-earned cash in return for your product. You add value to your product in the form of an autograph along with a short note on how nice it was to meet them. Be sure to slip a bookmark and a business card into the book before you hand it to your new customer, and be sure to ask them to email you a few comments after they finish reading. they probably won’t because getting someone to do that is worse than pulling teeth. Maybe one in ten will ever write you about how much they enjoyed your novel.

But if you don’t ask every customer, none of them will ever write you a single word.

Selling is tough. Selling means getting up close and personal with someone you’ve never met and letting them see that you are a human being who likes them and is interested in them. That you are someone with whom they have something in common.

Once you do that, you have made a new friend. They will see value in you as a friend. Selling them a copy of your book should come as an afterthought. Once you sell them on you, selling a copy of your book is easy. They might even buy two. Stranger things have happened, believe me.

You sell to individuals at local community events in your State and you sell through independent book stores. Most independent booksellers will only take your work on consignment with a 60/40 split, with you getting the 60%. They will usually pay only after five sales, so be patient. Check back with them every month to see how things are going. Every major city has lots and lots of independent bookstores. Pick two or three in different parts of each city, since their customers are usually with five miles of their store.

Travel to other cities in your State and if you are close to a State line, don’t hesitate to cross it and look for additional outlets for your work.

Whatever you do, do not ever quit on yourself.

Gary Showalter

“Gary Showalter writes in the tradition of John D. MacDonald, Elmore Leonard, James Grippando, and Carl Hiassen.

His novels have been called ‘impossible to put down'”.



About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. He currently lives in Deland, Fl, where he is co-authoring "A Silent Star" with Tony Attanasio. "A Silent Star" is the true tale (though novelized, with names changed for security reasons) about the 4-person covert action team sent into Yemen to capture Osama Bin laden immediately after the bombing of the USS Cole in the Aden harbor in Yemen in October of 2000.
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