Can You Get Something For Nothing?

Being a writer, is not necessarily about how well you can write, but rather, how well you can sell yourself.

This isn’t exactly a new concept, I mean ask anybody in a sales related profession. It isn’t the product, so much has how you sell it that counts. Sure, a solid product helps, but without the Gift of the Gab,you will not come very far.

In other posts I have spoken about my own inability to sell my books. It would seem that I am just not a salesperson, but it is not just an inability to promote myself effectively that is my hindrance.  Financially, I am not in a position to sell my books. Why? Because I do not have so much as a Euro cent to invest in it. Every cent / penny / cent that I earn goes to either the bills, groceries or the kids.

I am sure I am not alone in this respect, and I have made the personal decision to not have any credit cards, or loans of any kind. So technically I am 100% debt free, which in itself, and in the present day is for some, about as wealthy as it gets.

Yet, as a 100% self published author, I have nobody else but me to fall back on and help generate sales. What this means is, I have to find out effective ways of marketing a book for free. By that, I do not mean small expenditures, or the even the $5 it takes to have my book listed on a few Internet sites I have found. I mean, I need to find ways  of selling that cost absolutely zero.

It is certainly not an easy task.

The more I think about, the best free promotion is through Social Media. Twitter is my main marketing platform. While I like Facebook, I just don’t know how to successfully market on it. It is something I will have to learn.

Other than this however I am lost. I am not a natural socializer, and while virtual interactions are much easier – dare I say more enjoyable – for me, it remains something I have to work hard at.

Some people may read or interpret this post as being a Pity Me sort of outcry, but please understand, it is anything but. I would rather think of it the same as those time back in school when everybody sat there thinking the same question, but nobody was willing to stand up and ask it. To make their in-abilities public and risk the ridicule of the class, only for them to turn around and breath a collective sigh of relief.

Times are hard, and a great many families live paycheck to paycheck, and I do not have the luxury of being able to call writing my main source of income. So where does that leave me. We all know, and it has been said by pretty much every blogger that ever existed, that writers write. We need to, it is just who we are as people. But sales, that is a different kettle of fish altogether. Yet, to revert to my opening statement, being a writer in current times, especially a self published writer, is not about being a writer. Not anymore.

Just think about how easy it is to publish a book. Not the whole drafting, writing, editing, writing, editing roundabout that writers go through, but the act of publishing in itself. Upload a file. The is it in a nutshell. There are so many books out there, that the selling has to become the main prerogative of a writer, simply because we have to shout that much louder to have our voice heard.

So tell me friends, writers, transient visitors who found this page by chance, how do you promote your work. Do you pay for it, or are you working on a budget of zero. In search of a way to promote yourself that will allow you to focus on what it is your love, writing the books that you need to sell.

It is a kind of double-edged sword really. The more you love writing, the more you need to write, the more you will inevitably produce, but then, the pressure to sell increases. Do you think it is easier to sell two books than it is one… now there is a post for tomorrow.

 

 

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Can You Get Something For Nothing?

  1. When my first book came out, I didn’t know about things like press releases and some other forms of self-promotion. I had self-published through Infinity Publishing, because I felt that my story needed to be told quickly, and not to be sitting on an editor’s desk waiting to be “good enough.”
    The problem is, when I buy copies of my book from them, I get only a 40% discount. In order to avoid the shipping costs, I have to buy at least 20 copies. In a one income household, we do not have that kind of money.
    In addition to that problem, my first book is only available in paperback form. This means that I limit my sales, because many people want only to purchase books for their Kindle.
    This time around, I went with CreateSpace. I have been quite pleased. I chose to do both paperback and Kindle versions. I keep the rights to my book. I get 70% of the royalties. I can buy my book for only a few dollars, so I buy them 15 at a time and have four local stores selling them. It costs about 60 dollars to have 15 books shipped, but I can make that back and then some very easily.
    I have learned to take some chances. I take the books into some handpicked stores and show them the cover, mentioning that I am a local author. This usually grabs their attention and impresses them. I then ask if they would be interested in carrying my book. They usually say that they want to. If they do not want to, I ask if anyone who works there would be interested in buying one for themselves. This has worked many times as well.
    Social media has been a challenge for me. I know that I need to increase my online presence. The world does not know my name yet. I need to change that.
    With this in mind, I have gone out of my comfort zone and created a blog and a Twitter account. I then checked out blogs that related to my topic, and blogs by people I respect. I follow them and make comments. I do the same on Twitter. This generates interest from not only the blogger, but potentially from his/her audience as well.
    I feel that ultimately, we are all on the same journey. Why not help one another along?

    1. Thanks for dropping by Maxine, I have published with Createspace too, and thankfully by Brother in law is a graphic designer and he makes the book covers for me in exchange for some Dutch – English translation work. The problem I have is that the shipping costs to Europe with Createspace is like $80 if I order just 5 or 6 copies of my book. $30 just for one. It can be done cheaper but the shipping time is like 2 months or more.

      I use pretty much only social media, and to that end it is really only Twitter. I know it is something but I am making a promise to myself that I will learn more, hopefully during my holiday next week. I have 10 days back int he UK, I can just relax and ready up all about Sales techniques and making the most of the free resources that are you there.

  2. I’m still on the outside looking in Alex but it seems to me that there is a lot of truth in what you say – authors do have to wear a great many hats these days and the sales hat is the worst fit. All I can suggest is to keep on doing what you’re doing. And keep writing. I believe that the more titles you have out there – GOOD titles lol – the greater your author profile becomes until eventually you and the public reach a sort of critical mass and then things start to happen.

    People who have the sales knack or the money to invest in their writing get there quicker but I truly believe that quality will rise to surface no matter how deep it’s buried in the Amazon basement.

    Lord David Prosser – a friend and very talent indie author – posted a blog today about how he went onto ebay and won an auction for a mobile phone and… the seller not only knew his name but had read one of his books and really liked it 😀 So good things can and do happen! Coincidentally Daud has self published three books so I think that must help as well.

    Just remember it was the tortoise who won the race in the end 🙂

    1. I like to believe that too Andrea (Meeka 🙂 ) that in the end quality will win, and undoubtedly it will. I am patient, and have time to wait. I will have to check out his Lordship’s site. It sounds like a very worthwhile read. Thanks for passing his name on.

  3. Oh..p.s. I’ve started hanging out at TOR.com because they do a lot of science fiction there so perhaps a similar site for Horror would be a good venue for you to get your name out there.

  4. You are not alone, Alex. I have a zero budget as well, although I am trying to combine my writing with my new business as a spiritual advisor. I am printing leaflets and posters at home, taking them to Mind, Body and Spirit events where I do Tarot readings, and I am selling books alongside. Admittedly it’s a slow-starter, but if people only pick up my cards and leaflets they might later order an eBook… We have to persevere. We will succeed. And yes, I think that we will do much better once we have a series of books published. It seems that is where the audience are right now. They don’t just want one book, they want more. We had better get writing, fast!

    1. That is a nice idea Catherine. I don’t actually own a printer… how bad it that!! I never actually realized it before. I am focused on finishing this second novel, and seeing for myself if 2 books are better than one. I have a lot of reading material lined up for Sales ideas and techniques etc, so hopefully the coming 10 days in the UK will let me catch up on it all, and get some good tips ready for my launch. Planned for May 31st.

  5. Even if you’ve written the greatest book in the universe, selling the one book as a new author, with the hope of making a profit, is extremely difficult if not impossible. The best promotion is having more books for readers to discover. That being said, whatever budget you have should go to presentation. If for any reason your budget is going to prevent you from getting that, hold off on releasing the second book. Basically there’s no shortcuts in the presentation department. If it’s not the best it can be, then no amount of marketing will help. Once your book is the best it can be, contact some book bloggers. They’re a great source of free advertising. Meanwhile you can start working on the next book. And so on and so on . . .

    1. Thank you Andrew, I am honored that you have stopped by and taken the time to comment. The sad thing is my budget is 100% Zero. I have no spare income and being the sole salary earner in the house makes it difficult to find that spare cash when it is there. The good thing is, this is only a temporary position. I am seriously considering your idea of holding off on releasing until I have something to invest. I could relaunch Highway with a slightly changes cover I have planned too. That way I can effectively re-hit the market with two or possibly even three books.

      How are things going with your writing now? It is great to see you back blogging again.

  6. You are definitely not alone! I recently read a blog post by Nick Thacker on livehacked.com where he asked the question, “What are your biggest obstacles to getting started?” I felt compelled to send in mine!
    This is the email I sent:

    Reaching readers…the obstacles of writing, proofreading, editing, formatting and finally publishing the book all seem so easy when compared to figuring out how to reach the most important aspect of being an author – the Reader!

    I have gone and created all the necessary social media accounts and make an active effort to post information about the books, where they’re available, to connect with other authors and let others know “I’m here”; yet somehow at the end of the day it seems that all of this effort still remains unseen! We all know the route of the Indie Author is not going to be easy! It is a lot of hard work and determination on our part! But…what is the best method for reaching those people out there that will (we hope) fall in love with the story and the characters we have worked so hard to establish and bring to life?!

    It’s difficult not to feel a sense of urgency; to feel slightly impatient. I mean who wouldn’t want to be an instant overnight success right?! I’m all too aware that that is not likely to happen. So, I push on, continue to write and remain optimistic that my projects will catch on and gain notoriety. I can’t be the only one though who wonders how people like Amanda Hocking did it?! 🙂

    I too have a budget of ZERO! It is relieving to know that I’m not alone! 🙂 Although I think that having multiple books is a good way to let it be known that you are not a “one hit wonder” to potential readers, it certainly does not guarantee a faster following. I have always been a rather solitary man, my name certainly gives rise to the idea that I am definitely not a salesman! But…I have been doing lots of research and watching and I have discovered that the best method for reaching the ultimate goal of sales and readers (and trust me I’m still in the process of working on this) is to make connections with fellow authors and bloggers – GIVE as much publicity as you are hoping to GAIN! The saying “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is all too true!

    That being said, I am always open to helping out a fellow author – blog swaps are always fun! Best of luck to everyone!

    ~Solitaire Parke~

    1. Thank you for Sharing, it certainly is a relief to know that I am not the only one in this boat. I have plans brewing on maybe generating a little bit of extra income for promotions, and it is my birthday the end of this month, so hopefully any cash gifts from the family will be used for the same.

      I think the biggest thing for me is time. I am so busy and often, the need, the writing bug, takes over and my evenings are spent working on my current project rather than sales, or furthering my author platform.

      Balance is the key, and while I am focused on this second novel, once I have two titles out there, I will ensure that I divide my time in a more efficient manner.

      I am always interested in a blog swap, so feel free to drop me a line if you want to arrange something.

      Maybe a large scale blog swap could be set up. That would be interesting.

  7. You are definitely not alone! I recently read a blog post by Nick Thacker on livehacked.com where he asked the question, “What are you biggest obstacles to getting started?” I felt compelled to send in mine!
    This is the email I sent:

    Reaching readers…the obstacles of writing, proofreading, editing, formatting and finally publishing the book all seem so easy when compared to figuring out how to reach the most important aspect of being an author – the Reader!

    I have gone and created all the necessary social media accounts and make an active effort to post information about the books, where they’re available, to connect with other authors and let others know “I’m here”; yet somehow at the end of the day it seems that all of this effort still remains unseen! We all know the route of the Indie Author is not going to be easy! It is a lot of hard work and determination on our part! But…what is the best method for reaching those people out there that will (we hope) fall in love with the story and the characters we have worked so hard to establish and bring to life?!

    It’s difficult not to feel a sense of urgency; to feel slightly impatient. I mean who wouldn’t want to be an instant overnight success right?! I’m all too aware that that is not likely to happen. So, I push on, continue to write and remain optimistic that my projects will catch on and gain notoriety. I can’t be the only one though who wonders how people like Amanda Hocking did it?! 🙂

    I too have a budget of ZERO! It’s relieving to know that I’m not alone there! To answer your question Alex…I don’t think it can be a bad thing to have more than one book available; certainly a way to prove to potential readers that you aren’t a “one hit wonder”! However, having more than one book does not promise an instant following either. I have always been a solitary man and my name would certainly give rise to the idea that I am NOT a salesman! 🙂 But I have been doing tons of research and watching and I believe the best route for reaching our ultimate goal of sales and readers (I have yet to reach my goal, but it’s not from lack of trying) is to connect with other authors and bloggers – to GIVE as much publicity as we hope to GAIN. The saying, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is all too true!

    That having been said, I am always open to helping out a fellow author – blog swaps are a great way to help each other out!

    Best of luck to everyone!

    ~Solitaire Parke~

  8. As you probably noted above, my budget is aprox. 60 dollars a week. I use that to buy more of my own books, which I sell and distribute in my area. It is working really well and has drawn attention back to my first book. I am working on getting my first book going through my second publisher, with whom I am well pleased.
    Although 60 dollars is a lot to those of us who are already struggling, I know that I must invest that money and keep books on hand, in order to bring in more money. It’s the whole “You need money to get money” thing. Thankfully, the book sales that I am making more than make up for the 60 dollars that goes out every week.
    I am learning to use the press to my advantage. I sent my press release to several local papers. One of them decided that instead of a press release, they would like to do an actual story. I was thrilled!
    A friend of mine is sending my press release to a paper in her city, which is not in my state. It may not help, but it certainly can’t hurt.
    On occasion, I buy a copy of a fellow author’s book, and they buy a copy of mine. We then read them and review them. This has been successful as well.
    This week, I did interviews with two fellow bloggers. Both interviews should appear online next week.
    I am more proactive with this book than I was with my first one. I have learned a lot and always welcome advice and help in the area of promotion.

    1. I have been sitting here in the office and thinking about ways to try and fund some marketing ideas for myself. Maybe I can get a few freelance writing jobs, I used to do it all the time, and then I can use that income to put towards sales and marketing. It certainly is an idea.

      There is a horror convention in Germany – and the UK each year- and I would love to have a load of my books and some other merchandise and take it to this convention and see what I could do.

      1. Since many of we authors are spread around many different areas, we could promote one another. We could be a real aid to one another, getting word out in places that other authors might never be able to reach. This is where the online community really works in our favor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s