Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Total Beginners Guide To Selling Books Online

Guest post by  Isabella Woods of Wiki-Bee.com

Got a pen? Of course you have. Take this down in your Moleskine notebook, and commit it to memory. These strategies are free, and can be done from the comfort of your own home. In your pajamas if you like (on the Internet, no one knows you’re not dressed.) And believe me, some of this stuff you will be doing in bed, in the supermarket, on your nights out. Because you want to sell your book all over the world, don’t you? There’s a time difference to consider.

In the immortal words of the teacher from Fame "Fame costs. And right here’s where you start paying. In sweat.” So true. But you’ve written a book, so you’re no stranger to hard work. In some ways, that was the easy bit. You now need to sell it, which isn’t easy at all. But it’s not impossible, and some people have a huge amount of success selling this way, and as Darcie Chan showed, end up getting more revenue through private sales than via a publisher. Even well-known published authors do a great deal of their own selling these days, so don’t think there is anything lowly about hitting the keyboard like this. You may not have queues forming for a book signing yet, but then not many authors do, on the whole. A great number of them are hoofing round literary events, tweeting and showcasing and writing articles to get their latest book sold. You are in good company. You’re an author too, you just can’t boast an advance. But you may end up the winner in the long run. Read on.

You need to start spreading the word online, and no-one else is going to do it for you. Here are six things a total beginner can do today to get up and running.

Get a Facebook Fan Page  
This is essential. There are 520 million people on Facebook, and that’s a lot of potential customers. Regard it as your free personal shop front. From here you can link through to your blog, your website, and your Twitter Account. You can see statistics about who is visiting your page, and target them more effectively as a result. You can build up a fan-base, and appear miraculously in the timeline of Foyles, or Simon & Schuster saying something authoritative, witty and pertinent. It can get you noticed there, and tweak another contributor’s interest. Top Facebook tips:
  • Make your book jacket your avatar picture.
  • You will need to get 25 people to click on ‘Like’ to make it an official ‘Fan Page’ with its own webpage address, so get friends and family to start you off.
  • Update your page regularly with new content, but not so often that people get irritated with seeing you in their timeline.
  • Post interesting things on your Facebook page that your ‘fans’ might like. Read the papers and post the things you find relevant and interesting. The chances are they will too.
Set up a Twitter account

This is a great way to get your book noticed on the Internet. Some people take a while to get the hang of how it works, but once you ‘get it’ you’ll be hooked. Here’s how it works: just imagine a great big conversation going on out in cyberspace, which you can be part of. It’s a big party, which you have to mingle at. You can listen to others interesting conversations, try and join their conversations, or repeat what they’ve said if you think your readers will be interested in it. If that sounds a bit tricky to start with, just have your own conversation, and wait for people to hear you say ‘dragons’, or ‘romantic fiction’ or whatever your book is about, and wander over to listen. You have 146 characters to use for each tweet. It’s like Haiku. Some people are brilliant at it, and you can’t resist following the link the tweet because of how they’ve expressed themselves. You’re a writer, have fun with words! Top Twitter Tips:
  • Subjects are flagged up to others by means of a # - hashtag. So if you want everyone who is interested in spy novels to see you, make sure you use a hashtag in front of your subject. For example, you might start off by tweeting something basic like:
“New #spy novel published today – check out www.facebook.coldwarspy.com”
Obviously, that’s very basic. You can be far more creative with your tweets, but it gives you the idea of how to use a hashtag correctly.
  • ‘Follow’ people whose conversation you think might be useful or interesting to listen to. If you have written a spy novel follow Bond fans, (search ‘Bond’) or your favorite bestselling spy novelists. They might say something you think your readers will find interesting, which you could repeat (‘retweet’) or they might – if you are very lucky – ‘retweet’ you! If they do that, and they are very famous with lots of followers, then it could be the break you need. All their followers will read your comment, and that could be thousands of people. You can see why celebrities get badgered to retweet things. It’s not cool to ask, just just have to hope, and engage and you may get lucky.
  • Eventually you will get your own following of readers. You can post links to articles, reviews of your book, or go for the hard sell. It is up to you. Look at how others in your genre market themselves, see who they ‘follow’, and copy.
Start a Blog

A Blog is just a simple way of making your own website for nothing. If you are very broke it’s a great way to start. If you have a gmail account, you can just sign right up. Think of a title, chose a template and start telling the world about your amazing book. Keep posting articles, extracts, interviews and pictures. Look around to see who is blogging on the same subject. As if you can do a guest post (an article of about 500-700 words) to promote your book. Or ask if they would like to review it. If you want some income you can choose to put advertisements on the blog, or you can leave it pristine and clear. The choice is yours.

Communication is the Key to Sales
The sky is the limit with online marketing. Never stop trying to create a buzz about your book. You have to be the pushy parent, even if it is not in your nature. Be friendly, thank people for ‘following’ or buying your book, be generous with your time. Always answer questions. Get people to like you and what you say.

Sign up for any site that will allow you a free profile, update your Google profile with your book cover, keep your Amazon page professional, write to journalists and ask for a review…anything. Just keep working at it, and one day…who knows. There might be queues outside a bookshop somewhere for you.

If that doesn’t happen though, don’t be disheartened. It’s a fantastic achievement to have written a book and sold even a few. Be proud of yourself. Be proud of your book and never stop writing.