Venues Where You Can Sell Your Book

sample1I’m often asked about how one goes about getting their name out there. Truth is, there’s no one who can sell your book better than you. You are the brand!

If you’re not already, you should be thinking about the upcoming holidays! I know, fall has just started. Let’s not rush it, right? Halloween hasn’t even happened yet!

However, this is the time of the year when children are back at school, and parents/grandparents are already starting to prepare their birthday/Christmas lists as they get back into their daily routines.

So, where are the best places to help readers get your books into their hands? Below you will find some of my suggestions.

Note: Like any other form of marketing, you will find what works for one author may not work for you. It’s all about learning, exploring and discovering what areas work best for you and your book. You may be surprised to discover where you can be successful in selling your book!

Author Events/Conventions:

These can honestly be a hit or miss, especially if you are a first time published author.

My advice: look for author events that have been around for several years. Do your research. Find out how many attendees were there, what type of books they bought, what kind of advertising is going on, are there any guest speakers, and most importantly, who is hosting the event? Remember: not every opportunity is a good one.

For example: I made the mistake this year of attending an author event this summer, which had been recommended to me as the “place to go” for a YA author by a local bookstore, that just happened to be run by a self-published author. Within the first few minutes of the event starting, I sensed something wasn’t quite right.

One author stated he was selling his book, which he knew was full of errors, and frankly, didn’t care. This not only made me question the event’s reputation, but it soon became obvious, I wasn’t part of “that” crowd when readers deliberately skipped my table like I was wearing an invisibility cloak, and proceeded to move onto everyone else’s table in my row due to them being already familiar with those authors because they were “friends” with the host.

Needless to say, I won’t be attending that event again.

Book Festivals:

19221896_1805211929506047_2720833868272836084_o
My first author event took place this year at the Ann Arbor Book Festival in Ann Arbor, MI in June. Above I’m pictured with 7 other authors representing BHC Press.

We had a great turnout despite the event itself failing to properly advertise. It was especially unfortunate that majority of the local businesses had no idea this event was even going on.

Comic Con:

11248345_937742422930918_3778973150429899433_o

Even though I personally have not attempted to sell my book at comic con yet, many authors I know have, and have done really well. The reason I have not tried selling my book at comic con is because the ones I normally attend as a spectator are huge and expensive. For example, back in 2014, a table at Wizard World Chicago cost over $400. I have never sold that many books at an event before, so I know I would just end up taking a loss with just one book.

However, the key is not to think big like Wizard World Chicago, San Diego Comic Con, or Fan Expo Canada. Instead, think of local venues that are smaller, that have specific kind of guests. If you’re a horror writer, for example, you may target a comic con that has Norman Reedus as an invited guest,  because known for bringing in a crowd.

Comic con is also spectacular for panels. That’s how I got to meet Genese Davis, Rachel Caine, and James Morrison.

Barnes & Noble:

22047986_1168636266571962_3916172559136150561_o

Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble: Rochester Hills

This is every author’s dream if you live in America: getting your work recognized by Barnes & Noble. And despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to have sold millions of books to get into their stores!

Most recently I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the B-Festival: Teen Festival through the Barnes & Noble Rochester store located in Rochester Hills, MI. The entire day was filled with activities on publishing, writing, young adult, and teen books.

And the best part of the day – the author’s panel!

Library Book Fairs:

20664545_255598808281488_1858154054880810649_n
This summer I had the opportunity to participate in my first library book fair at the Warren Civic Center. The facility was beautiful, and the hosts were delightful. I joined 15 other authors where we got to meet new readers and all got the opportunity to talk about our books. There was also a really cool group photo taken, but due to I suspect…more email issues, I don’t have a copy of it.

Art Fairs:

20170826_082845.jpg

Okay, I’ll be honest with this one. When I first thought of art fairs, I didn’t associate them with places to buy books. Instead I thought of them as solely places to buy art. However, I soon discovered that could not be any further from the truth! I mean when you think about it, books are a form of art too, no? They are just a different kind of art.

This summer I attended two art fairs – Fenton’s Art Walk and Swartz Creek’s Art In The Park. The result: both times I either doubled or tripled the amount of sales I made from any of the other venues mentioned above, which convinces me these are the venues that work best for me.

So, what was different about these venues versus the ones listed above?

Both of these events felt more inviting than any of the events I’ve attended thus far. Everyone was encouraging each other due to the large variety of items for sales. And Swartz Creek’s event was also a fantastic place to network! I’ve got so many invites to different events that I am literally overwhelmed!

Advertisements

Hidden Inspiration

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.”
~ Willy Wonka – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

One of the most frequent questions I am asked as an author is what inspired me to write The Rite of Wands. I have always found that question interesting because when you think about it, inspiration is different for everyone. It may be a memory, a character from a book, song lyrics, a political speech, a TV series, or even an actor’s performance. Pure imagination is in all of us—we only need to discover it, and sometimes storytelling helps.

template-4-12172901503297868-large.pngInspiration can come to us in any shape or form; you never know what or who may inspire you. That was the case for me in 2014 when I got the opportunity to attend Wizard World Chicago and meet English actor Matt Smith, who is known for playing the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, and most recently Prince Philip on Netflix’s The Crown. I had originally gone there because I really wanted to meet a Doctor, and honestly felt it was going to be one in a lifetime, never thought it would be possible to meet him again being in America. If only I had known then that I was about to discover the main piece of inspiration in order to finish my book!

A few months later, I was sitting at my desk in my writing office, trying to compose something, but nothing would come to me. I was staring at a blank page for what seemed like eternity. I was close to tears. Not because I was sad, but because I was so frustrated with myself! I thought I had what was called a dead book, and my dream of becoming an author was coming to an end. I wasn’t a writer like I thought. In that moment of desperation, I literally shouted at my computer, “WHO are you? Show yourself!” And then inspiration hit.

I envisioned out of a dark alley in Glendalow, Matt Smith, dressed in medieval warlock attire, carrying an ebony wooden wand in his hand that contained a bloodstone crystal at the shaft. There was also a scar on his face from some type of chemical accident.

I felt like I was having my own “regeneration.” I was being fed all the information I had been missing all at once. I could now hear the character, see the character, and I got a huge grasp on this character’s dominant personality, especially after the first thing I could hear this character say to me was, “My name is Mierta, and that is NOT how it happened.”

In that moment, I gained my confidence back, realizing my dream of becoming a writer could still happen. If you’re a struggling writer, don’t give up! Keep at it. Find what inspires you. You never know what or who that may be!

B-Fest Teen Book Festival

20770207_1137385089697080_4001119598216775061_nA full day of awesome Teen book events at the Barnes & Noble (Rochester Hills) location! Authors! Panels! Giveaways! You won’t want to miss this. This wonderful day will be hosted in partnership with Reuther Middle School, and will be a fundraiser for them.

LEARN MORE AND RSVP ON FACEBOOK AT FACEBOOK.COM/BNROCHESTERHILLS 

*GIVEAWAYS AT EVERY EVENT!*

B-FEST EVENTS:
1PM – “B-In The Know” Workshop. Readers will B In the Know at 1 p.m. with teen trivia, created by Penguin Random House, that’ll put your YA street cred to the test.

2PM – “B-Super” Workshop. Calling all comics fans: B Super at 2 p.m.! We’ll be celebrating iconic DC Comics superheroes and heroines, including Batman and Wonder Woman. Don’t miss trivia, mad libs, book excerpts from Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker, and a giveaway of two copies of Batman per participating store. And remember to wear your superheroic best for our costume contest! Joining us for this workshop will be author Heather Maclean – Author.

3PM – “B-Part of the Fun” Workshop. B Part of the Fun at 3 p.m., when we’ll be celebrating your favorite teen series with games, trivia, scavenger hunts, and more. Joining us for this workshop will be authors Erica M. Chapman and Heather Smith Meloche.

4PM – “B-Yourself” Workshop. This workshop will teach you all about the self-publishing world. Learn about writing, NOOK Press, print-on-demand books, and more! Join us and authors CK Brooke and Mackenzie Flohr – Writer.

5PM – “B-Creative” Workshop. Aspiring writers will want to B Creative at 5 p.m., with story development workshops created by Barnes & Noble’s NOOK and Adaptive Studios. Joining us for this workshop will be authors Ali Novak, Barbara Rebbeck, Erica Chapman, and Kristin Lenz.

7PM – MULTI-AUTHOR “NO FILTER” PANEL EVENT: This awesome panel of authors will be one you won’t want to miss! We will be asking them “no filter” questions and having a blast! Nothing is off limits!!!!! Plus, lots of giveaways! Joining us for this panel will be authors Ali Novak, Darcy Woods, Erica Chapman, Barbara Rebbeck, Mackenzie Flohr – Writer, Kristin Lenz, Rebekah Purdy, Heather Meloche, CK Brooke, and Heather Maclean.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Ali Novak is the author of The Heartbreak Chronicles and My Life with the Walter Boys.
Darcy Woods is the author of Summer of Supernovas.
Erica Chapman is the author of Teach Me to Forget.
Mackenzie Flohr is the author of The Rite of Wands.
Barbara Rebbeck is the author of Nola Gals.
C.K. Brooke is the author of Secrets of Artemis and the Jordinia series.
Rebekah Purdy is the author of the Backstage Pass series, the D.B. List, and The Winter People trilogy.
Heather Meloche is the author of Ripple.
Heather Maclean is the author of Toward a Secret Sky.
Kristin Lenz is the author of The Art of Holding On and Letting Go.

 

The Benefits of Newsletters

Newsletters are a bit of a newer concept to me. Most of the authors I know do have some type of mailing list for their readers to keep up with them, but, if you’re a newer author like me, how do you get people to subscribe in the first place? I am going to share some tips I recently learned.

When Charlene Kowalski, marketing director, asked during a panel to a room filled with authors, bloggers and readers during Once Upon A Book convention this past weekend in Frankenmuth, MI, it was interesting hearing the various responds from those present.

What tips really stuck out:

  • Making your newsletter personal. Readers want to know more about you, and your life. They want you to feel like you are a friend versus just another author. They want different content than just hearing “buy my book”!
  • Offer a free book or short story exclusive to your newsletter subscribers.
  • Having giveaways exclusive to your newsletter doesn’t keep readers! This, I honestly found really surprising. Most authors said they found people were more likely to unsubscribe when their newsletter contained a giveaway.
  • Sales really CAN increase. I’ve heard more than once in the indie community that authors find newsletters are time consuming, tedious and a waste of time. However, one author said their sales increased by 44% simply because she had a newsletter.
  • Send your newsletter out quarterly, that way you will always have fresh content. If you send out your newsletter more frequently, it can lead not only unsubscribes, but people may report your content as spam/abuse.

 

How To Gain Exposure Through Book Awards

Bewitched Book With Magic Glows In The DarknessOne of the ways you can help your book get more exposure is through book award contests. These contests help get your materials out to people who may have never known about you or your book, and can ultimately lead to a frenzy of media exposure.

 

It gives your book a new sense of creditability. For example, it may perk a reader’s interest, who otherwise would have skipped over your book due to you being an unknown, enough to give your book a try.

This can lead to more sales and even bestseller status. And, if you end up one of the winners, it can also lead towards finding agents, publishers, movie/television offers, as well as help convince book sellers to carry your book in their store(s).

What To Watch Out For:

Before applying, make sure to do your research. While it may seem like entering multiple contests is a great idea, you want to make sure these are:

  1. Not one where everyone automatically earns a badge/prize because they entered.
  2. Has a high cost to enter.
  3. Is reputable and real.

For example, my first book award contest, which shall be nameless, was a contest where the winner was supposed to be announced at a conference.

To this day, I still don’t know who won. There were no badges, no announcements of runner ups, nor any congratulations mentioned on any of this site’s social media platforms. It was as if this contest never existed. (Maybe it really didn’t).

What Are Some Good Contests To Enter:

According to Scott Lorenz, President of the PR and marketing firm, Westwind Communications, some of the top book awards contests in 2017 for indie authors include:

  • The National Book Critics Circle Awards
  • Indies Choice Book Awards
  • The National Indie Excellence Book Awards
  • IndieFab Awards

Reviews: What Not To Do

One of the most challenging parts of being an independent author is getting reviews. If you’re an indie author, you are already familiar with that uncomfortable feeling of having to practically beg people in order to get them.

“Reviews are marketing tools that are necessary if your books are to sell and extend their shelf life beyond a few weeks.” – Sally Cronin, author.

We are born into the publishing world as an unknown. Readers who are not familiar with our work may decide to skip over our book simply because we’re not part of the Traditional 5. This is where reviews and other people’s helping spread the word about our books becomes essential. Word of mouth is the best marketing tool for an indie author. Without it, our chances of becoming successful quickly dwindles.

The quote above comes from John Winston’s, author of IA: Initiate, five-star review of my book The Rite of Wands. Continue reading to discover tips for both authors and readers on the process of asking for and receiving reviews.


Readers:

  1. Be consistent – If you’re going to leave a review for an author make sure to be consistent. Do not leave feedback/rating on one site and then leave a completely different review/rating on another. This not only comes across as confusing, it sends the message to the author that you are uncomfortable to tell them what you really thought of their work.
  2. Leave feedback for the author – If you use Goodreads, you are already familiar with their star system. You can leave a rating for an author’s book simply by rating their book between 1 and 5 stars, without having to leave actual feedback. Do not do this. You will find readers often look at these “ratings” as fake due to the reviewer not bothering to tell the author what they liked or disliked about the book. Also, an author cannot work on improving their craft if you do not inform them what you did or did not like.
  3. If you’re going to review, do it! – I cannot tell you how many times I have seen someone offer to read and review someone’s work and then the other party never does. This is something I have had to learn the hard way, falling into the category myself as a reader more than once this year. My best advice, do not underestimate how much time you will have to spend on reading and do not over commit. If you offer to review, make sure you actually do!

Authors:

  1. Bullying – This is something I have personally have encountered on more than one occasion. Before my book even came out, I was bullied on Goodreads by an author who expected everyone give her nothing less than a 4-star review on her book(s), whether they deserved it or not. If you did not comply, she would make sure to create a dozen of fake accounts to knock your author rating down, and then proceed to follow you all over social media. As an author, it is our responsibility to be aware that not everyone is going to like our book. That comes with the territory. Not a single best-selling author has ever had all five stars on their book(s). Authors, when asking for reviews, do not bully your readers to give you 5 stars. If you cannot deal with criticism or receiving a bad review, this field is not for you!
  2. Swapping – Do not offer a fellow author a review in exchange for reviewing your book. This is against Amazon’s rules, and is only bound to get that review deleted as well as other genuine reviews caught up in the process!
  3. Gifting – This strategy has been quite common with giveaways. It is one of the ways authors can guarantee they will receive a future verified review from the winning recipient by paying for an ebook. Unfortunately, that strategy is no longer effective on Amazon due to Amazon now viewing gifting as another way of paying for a review.
  4. Launch Groups – One of the most effective ways of gaining reviews is setting up a Launch Group. These groups contain readers who are given ARC versions of the book in exchange for an honest review at book release time.