After my book, No Evidence of a Crime, was released last fall, I contacted all my friends and family with the news and my books sales soared as they ran out to buy a copy. But, what to do next? It seemed obvious; I would lean back and rest upon my lush, green laurels and let my great, new book fly off the shelves. But, in fact, what I was resting upon was a cold, hard slab of reality as book sales dropped to nothing. (Note to self: I have no laurels).
Hmmm, I needed a plan. As a forensic scientist, I knew I needed to generate some empirical data to assess the best course of action. So I started a systematic campaign to track down what is the best way to sell a book. Enter Facebook. They had a proposition for me. Yes, sent directly to me, a proposition. They must have known! (They know everything). They would advertise my book on Facebook to millions of members free of charge and only if someone was interested in my book and clicked on the title would they charge a few cents to my account. Clicking on my book would send the clicker directly to my Amazon.com page where they could immediately buy my book. This was brilliant; not as easy as resting upon your laurels but close. Each week Facebook sent me feel good messages about how many hundreds of thousands of people saw my ad, how many people liked it, how many clicked on my book, how many more potentially could. After a few weeks, I stopped the campaign to assess its effectiveness. I couldn’t wait to see the data. In the end, I sold a handful of books. (For those not familiar with units of handful, it is a number not to exceed what you can count on one hand).
Time to change strategies. My next strategy was local. I had a little article in my local paper. I made sure I mentioned my book at any party, any graduation, any “Hi, what’s new?”. And, even though to equal Facebook in exposure you would have to multiply the number of people with whom I had contact by one million, the nod goes to the locals giving me higher sales but I was swimming in a pretty small pond.
Next I wanted to see if giveaways are effective in selling books. I joined Goodreads.com Fantastic place; readers wanting to read books, authors having books to read. I signed up to give my book away. The end result…. 2682 people signed up to try and win a copy of my book, 248 people clicked that they would like to read my book, 5 people actually have read it and gave me some good reviews and ratings (5 people, hmmm, back to that darn handful, again).
Next I will try Blogging (definitely not my strong suit). I think there are the natural bloggers whose words fly out of their fingers and the struggling bloggers, like me, who chews on a topic in the back of their brain until they know just what they want to say only to return to the blog-site and see there were already 172 responses, everyone became bored with the topic and all moved on to three new topics. But, I will do my best. I have a few blog interviews coming out and a Killer Nashville e-zine article. In the end, I think I know what the results will say.
It will say: Doing anything is better than doing nothing. For most of us, books won’t fly off the shelf. The best we can hope for is to plant our book in the palm of someone’s hand and hope something will grow from it.