Monday, 17 September 2012

#7 Start selling books somewhere

It's one thing to publish a book, but it is another thing altogether to get out there and successfully sell it. Now if I had a penny for every time I heard someone tell me that, I wouldn't be worried about having to sell my book. But the saying is true. It's always a great thrill for any author to see their name on the cover of their first book, but if you self-published your book, like I did with my first novel The Long Way Home back in February 2007, the above saying can also prove to be a little daunting. Where do you start? Depending on the type of book you have just published there may be a dozen answers for that one, but the most important decision you have to make as an author, is just to start out somewhere.

My earlier book appearances

  • The Long Way Home Book Launch, Riverbend Books & Teahouse, Bulimba, QLD. April 17, 2007
  • Coffs Jetty Markets, Coffs Harbour, NSW. September 20, 2009
  • A Walk Before Sunrise Book Launch, Redland City Library, Capalaba, QLD. February 6, 2010

Momentum is the most powerful tool any marketing campaign can have. Once you start marketing and promoting your book you are more likely to see results come your way than if you simply sit on the couch and read every 'how to successfully write and market a best-seller' book there is. It is important to remember that everyone starts out somewhere. In my case, I chose to organize a book launch and invite all my friends, family and work colleagues to attend. Despite the cost involved in planning such an evening and the need to make the book launch a paid, ticketed event, most people I invited had never been to a book launch before. Most people whom I invited brought a partner, a friend or a relative along with them, and I discovered my first valuable lesson in marketing myself. When you take your writing seriously, people in turn will take you seriously as a writer.

The book launch for my debut novel The Long Way Home was held at Riverbend Books & Teahouse in April 2007. An evening of wine, sushi and casual ambience overlooking trendy Oxford Street in Bulimba, Brisbane was made special thanks to Jeremy Allen, (lead singer of The Smart and former front man of the band Cavendish) who provided a wonderful accoustic set on the night, and also my Uncle John and Aunt Margaret (pictured above - bottom right) who flew 2,000km from Melbourne to be there on the evening. I had a crowd of well over 30 paying guests on the evening and on top of that sold a lot of books. I got to experience my first book signing and some people even bought more than one copy, asking me to sign the other book to a friend or family member they planned to give the book to as a gift. As far as starting out goes, the evening set a pretty high standard to follow in future.

And then I made the mistake of not following this up with anything. Sure I entered my book in some award competitions and signed up for some Book Fairs where my publisher arranged to exhibit my book on my behalf, but I lost all momentum. People are just as interested in meeting the author as they are in reading his or her book. Fast forward to September 2009, I made the decision to organize a sole appearance with my book at the Coffs Jetty Markets (pictured above - bottom left) in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales while on a visit during a family vacation. And surprise, surprise, I sold some more books.

Early the next year I released my next novel A Walk Before Sunrise, and knew that I would have to get out there and help sell the book. So while my visit to the Redland City Council's Capalaba library in 2010 (pictured above - top row) was somewhat of a homecoming affair after I had moved away from the bay-side region I had called home for almost two decades, it was the start of a new approach. Two years after I moved my family north to the Sunshine Coast, I returned to headline a morning advertised as "Talking Man Lit with Author Phillip Overton" and launch my latest book A Walk Before Sunrise. It was the perfect complement to the library's Romance Month theme and a great opportunity to meet some eager readers and sell some books. But more importantly, it once again provided me with the momentum I needed to organize a book tour. What followed was newspaper articles, radio interviews and that most wonderful word a writer wants to hear, sales. You just have to start out somewhere.

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