Free Online Conference This Week Offers Top Tips for Indie Authors

A quick and easy tip to start your book marketing week: if you’ve not yet heard about IndieReCon, the free online conference run for authors, by authors, head over to its website now to register: http://www.indierecon.org. This week, from Wednesday … Continue reading

How to Sell Print Books via High Street Bookshops

Many self-published authors bypass the print route altogether, preferring to issue their books only as ebooks, which is quicker, cheaper and less technically demanding. However, it’s received wisdom that even if the ebook market is your primary goal, you’ll also … Continue reading

Selling My Books: Rudolph Bader’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Rudoph Bader photographed out of doors

Swiss author Rudolph Bader

I was introduced to Swiss novelist and former professor of literature Rudolph Bader by Helen Hart at SilverWood Books, after I’d admired his intriguing book cover. I then went on to read and review his book, which I very much enjoyed, and it was a pleasure to be able to meet him in person to interview him a couple of years ago. I’m delighted that he is now able to join us on the Off The Shelf blog to share his top tip for marketing his self-published novel, The Prison of Perspective.

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could be the one you enjoy most.

Rudolph Bader: Spend a Saturday in a bookstore. Prepare a small display of your book on a small table, possibly with a poster of the book cover and yourself, and a chair to sit down for your book-signing. Slowly walk around the store and approach customers politely and convincingly. Sell them your book by conviction (not coercion).

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!

Rudolph Bader: By all means be well-dressed (not over-dressed), well-rested (so you feel good about yourself) and remain polite throughout. Be relaxed and smile naturally. Approach customers with a friendly question, such as, “Excuse me, please. Do you read novels?” Show them your book, let them read a page or two and involve them in a pleasant discussion. Let them see the qualities of your book.

Avoid all cheap sales tricks, but respect your customers. Use your natural sense of humour without getting too pushy. Don’t try to persuade them once you see they’re not interested or under time-pressure, but use genuine arguments if they show a certain degree of interest. Be relaxed, and let your charisma and the real qualities of your book convince them. Like this, about fifty per cent of the customers you approach will definitely buy your book, and you can sell more than 60 books on a good Saturday.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Rudolph Bader: I like talking about books, about literature, about the writing process, and I like talking to friendly people with similar interests. It gives me a sense of real achievement when customers like my book. Sometimes readers who bought my novel on a previous book-signing event come back to thank me for my book and the pleasure it has given them. Contact with my readers is the most rewarding experience indeed!

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Full cover of The Prison of Perspective, showing back, front and spine

The cover which intrigued me to read Rudolph Bader’s book

Rudolph Bader: I have used this strategy with my novel, The Prison of Perspective (published in 2010), through 2010 and 2011.

Unfortunately, Waterstone’s Bookstores discontinued such events in mid-2011, so that was the end of that.

Silly really, but it was obviously due to complaints from customers about authors who were too pushy and pressed customers into a corner.

I only hope they will resume the old practice in time, they should vet their authors before allowing them to do book-signing events in their stores to prevent unpleasant situations for their customers. Then the scheme would work wonderfully, as indeed it did in my case. I made quite a name for myself among the branch managers throughout the South East of England.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Rudolph Bader: No, I would do it exactly the same way. It was so successful.

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Rudolph Bader: Heaving my books from the nearest car-park to the store. And, of course, the rare unfriendly customer.

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?

Rudolph Bader: Taking part in discussions on literature in general and on my novel in particular on the radio or on TV (after all, I used to take part in such general discussions during my time as a university professor of literature).

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Rudolph Bader: For me it is very important that the quality of my books should sell them, not my person. I passionately disagree with today’s sales strategies in the book market, where “big names” of authors are created by the PR people. For me, “bestsellers” are no proof of quality, while books by really good authors may of course become bestsellers. For me, the big question is: How can I promote my book without putting myself in the foreground too much? How can I publicise the real qualities of my books at affordable costs?

Debbie Young: Good questions, Rudolph, and I hope you’ll find some helpful answers both on this blog and in my book promotion handbook Sell Your Books!

Find out more about Rudolph Bader and The Prison of Perspective on his website: www.rudolphbader.com

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

Selling My Books: Isabel Burt’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Headshot of Isabel Burt

The author Isabel Burt

I met Isabel Burt through our mutual friends at author services provider SilverWood Books, and it’s been my pleasure to have helped her with some aspects of her book promotion.

Like her fellow SilverWood author Edward Hancox, interviewed here last week, Isabel is focusing on bookshops for her top tip, but this time on a single branch of a chain store in Milton Keynes, where she recently held a book signing event to mark her launch. Her experience shows that contrary to popular belief, the door of the big chains is open to self-published authors with the right approach.  

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could be the one you enjoy most.

Isabel Burt: As a new author, the thing I have most enjoyed so far, in terms of promotion, was my first book signing at Waterstones, in Milton Keynes. It took a level of calm persistence to persuade a store to take an entirely unknown, debut children’s fantasy novel, but I am so glad I succeeded. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with the young readers and their parents about Toxics, and other novels they are currently reading. I think I learnt more than them, on the day! My tip, therefore, would be not to ignore the valuable and enriching experience of getting out and about – it is not about profit, but of other incalculable benefits.

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!

Isabel Burt: How did I begin, with absolutely no experience? First I read your wonderful book, Sell Your Books!, and then having thrown it down, thinking I could never do any of those things, I left my writing cocoon, and began. I approached all local bookshops, either in person or by phone. It was pre-Christmas so this was a terrible time to begin, but there was no choice. I followed up by sending them further information, and then further calls or visits. Within a couple of months I had my book on the shelves at three stores, four libraries, and my first book signing!

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Isabel Burt: Why I choose this as my favourite, new promotional activity, is that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with the young readers and their parents about Toxics, and other novels they are currently reading. I think I learnt more than them, on the day!

Isabel signing books instore

Signing books at Waterstones, Milton Keynes

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Isabel Burt: I chose to do book signings, for Toxics, because it is my first novel, and needs to be publicised within my local community, as well as through online social media. For the sequel, Oceans, I will not hesitate to continue building on any foundations with bookstores, as the whole booksigning event brought a feeling of resolution and reality to the experience of writing and publishing a novel.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Isabel Burt: How I might do things differently next time would be to promote the event further in advance. I only turned my attention to the first event about 10 days beforehand. I contacted my local radio station, and a local newspaper, but I see I could have made even better use of these two friendly and supportive avenues. The next store has asked for my posters as soon as possible, which surprised me, but had me realising that I should work further in advance, myself.

Debbie Young:Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Isabel Burt: I know I am not alone in this, but I least like having to address the demands of social media, with respect to promotion as an author. I accept this is important and invaluable, and I do enjoy making new friends in the author community during the process, but I find it hard to find discipline and direction, sometimes, in this arena, in spite of the wonderful articles that exist to help authors do so!

Cover of Toxics by Isabel Burt

Having a beautiful book cover helps persuade store managers to host book signing events

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?

Isabel Burt: I know what I would like to now try, is teaching Creative Writing. alongside continuing to write regularly. Whilst not being a strictly promotional activity, I feel sure this will still quietly enhance my promotional activities, and build a strong foundation for me as a writer.

Debbie Young:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Isabel Burt: Sales and promotion are so important, but the energy that keeps me going, is simply my love of writing – most particularly for young readers. My own childhood was spent with a book glued to my nose from the moment I had finally mastered the hieroglyphs on the page. It still gives me a thrill to imagine I have taken a young reader away to the land of my story, if only for a few hours! I hope to finish the sequel, Oceans, this coming winter of 2014, which continues the story of Felicity and Reuben in their primitive, mystical Old World.

I will be in Waterstones, Market Harborough, Northamptonshire, on Saturday May 24th, signing copies of TOXICS, with great pleasure!

Find out more about Isabel Burt and her writing on her website: www.isabelburt.com.

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

Selling My Books: Edward Hancox’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Ed Hancox speaking in Foyles Bookshop at the SilverWood Open Day

Edward Hancox speaking at SilverWood Books’ Open Day at Foyles, Bristol

I met Edward Hancox via SilverWood Books‘ Open Day at Foyles bookshop in Bristol in January, where he gave an excellent talk about how he crowdfunded the production of his first self-published book, Iceland Defrosted, a bestselling travelogue about his passion for that country and all things Icelandic. I’d read and enjoyed his book when it was first published, and had never met Ed in person before. Even so, I could tell straight away that he was a personable chap and very much at home in Foyles. So it was no surprise that his top tip for book promotion involves relationship building in bookshops. Over to you, Ed, and thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom with us all.

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could be the one you enjoy most.

Edward Hancox: Book shops. Don’t forget bookshops, and especially independent ones. The big chains might not even talk to you (or worse, one actually lied to me!), but I’ve found independent bookstores to be very supportive. My local one – Wenlock Books – has sold over 70 copies of my book. A book shop in central Reykjavík stocks my little book. I’m also stocked in cafés (can’t beat coffee and a good book) and a record shop. The high street isn’t dead – if you support retailers, you’ll be surprised how much they support you.

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!

Ed's books on a bookshop shelf

Iceland Defrosted on a bookshop shelf

Edward Hancox: Easy. Go in and say ‘Hello’. Be polite. Buy something. Ask for an email address. Get in touch. Always offer sale or return. Keep in contact. Watch the magic happen

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Edward Hancox: I enjoy book shops, record shops and drinking good coffee. This is a great excuse to indulge in all three! I also get a huge kick out of seeing my book for sale, as an actual book, from a real shelf, in a physical location. Something that ebooks will never be able to compete with.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Edward Hancox: My debut book, Iceland, Defrosted is stocked in 10 shops now, and is doing very well. The support of independent shops has meant a huge deal to me.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Edward Hancox: No, I don’t think so. I have the contacts and  confidence now, which would make it much easier.

How about this title for an icebreaker in bookshops?

How about this title for an icebreaker in bookshops?

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Edward Hancox: Reviews. Urgh. I hate them. I have  tens of wonderful reviews on Amazon for my book, but a single cutting, malicious review can wound me for days. I need to grow a thicker skin.

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?

Edward Hancox: Vine. It’s like Twitter but with 6 second videos. I’ve tried it, but not mastered it. I think it has huge scope and potential – I need to sit down and figure it out.

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Ed's name on an event poster

Ed shares the billing with an Icelandic pop singer

Edward Hancox: I’m giving a reading at Left for Dead in Birmingham – the record shop I mentioned – on the 10th May. It’s worth mentioning, because I’m appearing with a singer/songwriter from Iceland who I admire hugely. She’s called Hafdís Huld and appears in my book, so the whole thing has a nice symmetry to it!

Debbie Young: That sounds very exciting, Ed. Have fun – and make sure you get a photo of her holding your book for publicity purposes! (I bet you’re going to give her a free signed copy…)

Find out more about Edward Hancox and his bestselling book on his website: www.icelanddefrosted.com.

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

How To Sell More Books With a Memorable Book Launch

Debbie Young, author of "Sell Your Books!", at her book launch

At the launch of my own book

I love attending book launches and sharing the excitement of the author as he or she unveils shiny new books before an appreciative audience. Even better when the author dreams up a quirky way to make the event especially memorable, persuading more of their guests not only to buy more copies, but to keep spreading the word about their book days, weeks and months later.

This summer, two book launch events particularly stood out for me, in completely different genres – and I’ve been telling friends about them ever since. By chance, both were staged in the same venue: the smart upstairs events area in the Bristol branch of Foyles.  Smart, but neutral – and thanks to clever planning by the two authors concerned, the tone was entirely different for each launch, and totally appropriate to each book.

Acquiring a Taste for the Spanish Civil War

A guest eating tapas

A reader acquiring the taste for a Spanish thriller

Cover of The Assassin's Mark by David EbsworthHistorical novelist David Ebsworth transported his audience to 1930s Spain to get us in the mood for the story of his thriller, The Assassin’s Mark.

Spanish music was playing as we arrived, and we felt even more welcome when we spotted a mouth-watering display of genuine tapas, which looked as if it had been personally imported from Spain.

Smiling all the while, and in front of an intriguing display of genuine artefacts from the era, which he occasionally passed around the audience for a bit of hands-on involvement, David talked at length and off the cuff about the historical and political background to his story. The novel takes place in the unlikely but true-to-life setting of a yellow tourist bus visiting the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War. Spanish food and drink feature quite often in the story as the motley array of bus passengers make their fateful journey, and plying his audience with the same was a great way of involving us at a sensory level. David’s enthusiasm was so infectious that by the end of the talk I was almost ready to buy a ticket for the next trip!

Suffragette Rally

Mark Evans, Helen Hart and Sarah Newman join the chorus

Rallying readers to buy the book

Cover of The Bristol Suffragettes by Lucienne BoyceHistorical novelist Lucienne Boyce took a more formal approach at the launch of her non-fiction account of The Bristol Suffragettes.

When we took our seats, we discovered on each chair a songsheet for the lyrics of the Suffragette movement’s anthem – a hearty rallying cry. Before her prepared speech, wearing a purple and green Suffragette rosette on her chest, Lucienne led us all in a rousing chorus of the song, aided and abetted by Foyles’ Events Manager, who had gamely dressed in the Suffragettes’ official colours of green and purple to add to the sense of occasion.

Although Lucienne’s talk was much briefer than David’s, it was powerful. As we sat comfortably in the middle of modern Bristol, her words took us back to the turn of the previous century when normal Bristol citizens might have found their daily business, in just such a shop as Foyles, disrupted by protesting Suffragettes, hurling missives and making their voices heard. Apparently not even Winston Churchill was safe from their protests when he arrived at the nearby Bristol Temple Meads railway station.

Within moments, Lucienne had completely changed the way we looked at our surroundings, and with the innovative walk map of the Suffragettes’ Bristol provided inside each book, she equipped us to continue the tour after the launch event was over and the singing had stopped!

Inspiring Other Authors

Each author’s creative approach to their book launch, ably assisted by the very helpful Foyles’ team, helped ensure a long queue for book purchase and signing after the event was over. Both events set a great example to other authors in the audience who had their own launches to plan.

Both of these authors’ books were published by SilverWood Books of Bristol. Many thanks to SilverWood Books for the use of their photos here.

What’s the most interesting and creative book launch you’ve ever attended? Please share your experience via the comments form below, and if you’d like to email me any pictures, I’ll add them at the foot of this post. 

For more ideas about how to plan an effective book launch, see Chapter 9 of Sell Your Books!

PS Lucienne Boyce will be putting in another appearance at Off The Shelf on Saturday, as part of a blog tour of her historical novel, To The Fair Land. She’ll be talking about creating atmosphere not only at book launches, but within the pages of her novel too.