By Mike Long
I continue to hone my marketing skills, as there is zero marketing support for a self-publisher. This may not be all bad as I read that 'successful' authors are expected to do more and more by traditional publishers.
Some things I've learned:
(A) Advertising through magazines is a great tax write-off and little else, unless it's preceded or accompanied by an article/interview/review. Who ever bought a book because of an ad?
(B) Do not trust a magazine to write the article/interview/review after you've paid for their ad. Three have stiffed me; nice ads, no follow through. The response is, "Sorry, I do ads. Someone else handles those things. Yes, I know they referred you to me, but I only do ads. Would you like to order another one?"
(C) Book signings are great sales venues, especially in book stores. Surprising as it may seem, people come there to look for books. Gun stores, furniture shops, your best friend's boutique may not be so great. People visit them to buy something else.
(D) Even better venues are clubs (Rotary, Sertoma, Lions, Civil War Round Tables, Daughters of the Confederacy, etc), where talks turn into sales/signings. If the talk is okay, about a third of the attendees will buy a book. The club officers responsible for booking speakers like to have someone (like me) readily available to fill in for a cancellation.
(E) Enter your work in as many contests as you can. Winners and finalists enhance their portfolios. You can then put little gold stickers on all your book covers: Winner, 2010 Spur Awards, or Finalist, 2011 Southeast Vampire Shootout.
(F) Speaking of vampires, put some in your book to really spice up sales, even if it's non-fiction stuff on Centipede vs St Augustine grass. Really. I wish I had.
(G) As I've said many times before, keep your day job. Just keep writing.
(H) The problem with Publish On Demand publishers is that they have no 'return policy' and neither Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, nor Waldenbooks will stock your book (even with vampires) unless there's a return policy. And if they don't stock it, you can't do a signing there.
Now-feel better? Write on.