A little more than a year ago my first book was published.
In the years before it was released, I made a persistent effort to build my platform.
For instance, nine or ten years ago, I started building a social media platform, first on Facebook, and then on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Instagram.
For about six or seven years, I have been consistently blogging. I have been grateful to be featured as a guest blogger on many sites. Still, I did not fully understand the extent of marketing I would be doing once my book released.
The not knowing was painful at times.
Hopefully this post will give you some of the information I wish I had known ahead of time.
Here are the five biggest marketing surprises, good and bad, I learned after my book released.
I didn’t realize I would be expected to market for years. In fact, I think as long as you have a book being sold, you don’t ever get to stop.
2. Most of the time you won’t have any idea how well your book is selling.
I assumed publishers would send reports every month or every six months. That didn’t happen. At least not for me. I guess it’s difficult to determine the exact number of sales, partly because bookstores may order a few dozen copies but then send them back at a later date. I did receive a statement 12 or 13 months after my book released but it’s still not an accurate representation. By the time a statement is compiled and mailed out, more books likely sold. Without knowing how book sales are going, you have to market anyway.
3. You will market 101 ways and you won’t have any idea which marketing ideas will be most beneficial.
You’ll do contests, hold signings, and have book launch parties. You’ll do giveaways and attend conferences. You’ll have write-ups in college alumni newsletters, you’ll give hundreds of books away to potential endorsers and media types. You’ll speak to groups, and give radio and TV interviews, all the while hoping for sales.
Here are two of my biggest marketing surprises:
*My pastor gave a sermon on Mother’s Day and mentioned my book. I sold about a 100 books. People rushed into the foyer after church to buy multiple copies for aunts, grandmas, sisters, girlfriends, and moms.
*Ann Voskamp mentioned my book on her list of links one Saturday morning. My book sky-rocketed on Amazon. It was fun to watch the numbers for a day.
4. Your publisher is likely to give you books in order to help you market.
When I signed my contract, my agent negotiated a certain number of free books I would receive in addition to my advance. However, I have been surprised with the generosity of my publisher. Several times I’ve headed to conferences and my publisher has given me books to give to the attendees. Also, Goodreads has a program where authors can participate in giveaways within the first six months of a book’s release. My publisher alloted quite a few books for these giveaways.
5. The things that make you the most happy won’t be the sales but the people you touch.
It sounds cliche, but it’s true. I am humbled each time someone sends a thankful email or posts a review on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble. This week I received a letter from someone who said my book encouraged her to go back to school to earn a graduate degree in Christian counseling.
If you’ve marketed a book, what surprised you the most after it released?