There are many stages that the earth has gone through but ultimately, except for plastic nothing much new has happened since moveable type and the first lithiograph.
Before books had been copied by hand. And while someone these days may say that books are in the background next to Survivor or the newest kind of gadget and ultimately minimized, most who love books would disagree. A book doesn't need a computer to read, although you can. A book doesn't need a certain situation. It just packs and goes.
So for the first time author who knows how much people love books, the first months can be incredibly frustrating. You have a book. You are published. Look, there it is. Watch me flip the pages. It is a whole part of the person who wrote it and yet open to enjoyment and interpretation by all who read it. So what now?
Most sit back and wait to see what the publishing company does with it and many fall into despair. The publishing company doesn't go out on tour, the author does, if they had money which they usually don't. So that begs the question, what now?
Start small until you get your feet suitably wet that you are a professional author, used to the way things are.
Buy up fifty to one hundred of your books and throw yourself a party. If you are not too much in love with throwing it yourself, consider talking a friend into doing it. Have these books available to buy and make it a big deal. Buy a cake. Put your face on it or hang a big glossy of your book. Watch the support. As an author, you will find that you get at least a 25 percent discount. One of our authors at Stargazer Press figures that any book she sells is better than one that wasn't sold because it encourages reading.
If you tell fifty of your closest friends to buy your book online, you'll be waiting awhile. Whereas if you personally sell them the books, they will all know what you wrote.
Next go to a local organization. Oh, something that needs a little money. You know the kind. Even if it is a thrift shop organization, then it's totally worth it. Suggest they host an event. Promise to give them ten percent of the proceeds. Order more books. 50 to a hundred more. Arm yourself with change and again, have a glorious poster of your book. Chances are the organization will publicize it to their membership.
At this point, you should have already sold one hundred books. Most publishing companies take the risk of 2,000 books on you. This is pretty good. They've already sold one hundred copies!
OK, now you're getting a bit used to being the center of attention and that's great because you need that. Then, you learn how to work the phone. Call an independent bookstore in the area, the kind that hardly anybody goes to but the ones that do love the bookstore. Have them order in their own copies. That part is easy. Great, now learn how to write a press release and blast it off to the newspaper and radio about your upcoming book signing. Fantastic. Oh yeah, please follow it up with a brief call to the editor, and ask them to include it in Briefs at least. Sell more books.
If your book is targeted at a certain age group, book yourself into a school next. Order copies in advance so they are readily available and sell them too. If your book is not suitable for an elementary school, go be present at a high school. Do a little spiel about being a writer. If the students have been told in advance that they can buy a book if they want, great. The average of authors who sell their books at a school is around 20 to 30. In a lot of cases, teachers buy copies if their students appear interested.
OK, now what? Contact the local library and offer to do a book signing there. The trick with talking to anybody who is a public entity like a library or school is the sincere offer to donate a percentage of sales. This can even be one dollar a book! If the library doesn't want to hold one, contact the friends of the library who typically have a gift shop to make money for the library.
Initially, you don't have to stray that far away. Truly. You could stay within your own area but as you get better at being places, great.
I'd like you to also consider doing a charity event at a cafe. This gives you exposure to people who actually have money for a cup of coffee. But I would also not spend my time putting on writer events in the hopes of selling books unless you make a copy of your book part of the seminar package.
What ends up happening if you stick to a modest plan like this where you pop up in bazaars or festivals or bookstores or cafes or libraries is that people in your area get to know your name. And looking at the law of averages, consider the reality that 2,000 books really isn't that much. You want to have your publishing company run out of books. As a first time writer, you are in your entry level job. If they never run out of books, why on earth would they publish you again?
Performance in this case does actually matter and though this does mean buying the books in chunks to have available at various events, it is no different than the publishing company doing it themselves.
Book sellers don't sell books as much as authors sell books or people sell books. That part will never change and it is a lot of work but totally worth it.
Robyn Whyte is the CEO of Stargazer Press, a fine retailer of books and educational programs. Visit us at http://www.stargazerpress.com