Although it was eight years ago I remember vividly my decision NOT to give away any more of my books. Restless from the Start, my first baby, had recently been accepted for availability at one Barnes & Noble store in Sarasota, Florida because I would be doing a lecture on publishing and promotion there. The head office would put the book into their computer system and five copies would be ordered for Sarasota.
As long as Restless was going to be in the computer I felt I could call other Barnes & Noble stores in Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater and Brandon. All the stores said “yes” to a signing but one manager asked to see the book.
“Could you send me a copy of the book. No, no, no…send me two. Oh, wait a minute,” said the manager, “could you send me four copies?”
As a brand new author, so proud of my accomplishment, could I say “no” and risk losing the signing? I knew that signing was doomed from the start. I could never recoup giving away four books for one signing. It was at that precise moment I decided NEVER to send out free copies and I have been good to my word since that day.
I donít send out free copies for newspaper reviews because, if the books donít come from a major publisher or an agent, they may end up in the garbage unopened. I donít send out for blurbs. I didnít even send a copy to an author whose self-publishing book I used as a guide. He’d requested a copy along with the other 300 books he suggested sending out.
In the years since that first book, I have published and marketed five other real-life adventure-travel books. I lecture at womenís organizations, service clubs, and camping rallies. I do book signings at Hastings Bookstores because they can be arranged very quickly.
For the past five years I have been picking up boxes of books from my distributor in North Carolina twice a year. I call a day or two before. My books are ready and waiting for me at the door. The paperwork is done and a commission check, for orders they’ve received, is always waiting for me. The check is for never more than $50.00 to $100.00 and I always worried that they would drop me as a client because of insufficient sales.
In October, my last pickup, the boxes of books were at the door. There was no paperwork. I was heartsick. I thought that there had been no sales in the previous six months. While I spoke to Ralph, Pat did the paperwork and within minutes handed me a check for the sales. I was sure there had been some mistake and my eyes almost popped out of my head. The check was for more money than the previous four-and-a-half years combined. “The stores are starting to order your books,” she said with a big smile.
I have author-friends who have spent $15,000 to $20,000 with companies who specialize in book promotion. I have friends who have spent $400.00 to $500.00 per month for radio and television opportunities. I have friends who have paid much too much in a last ditch effort for print ads sales. The sad fact is that there are so many self-published books out there that every high-priced effort works to a very small degree.
I have discovered the secret to book sales, while giving away nothing and spending almost nothing. (1) I have created a dynamite press release that works almost every time. (2) I set up as many events as I can in one area. (3) I never leave home without my business cards and one of each of my books in my backpack.
There is absolutely no one that can promote my books like I can. I sell them everywhere and now THE STORES DO, TOO.
Joei Carlton Hossack, Author / Publisher / Entertaining Speaker and World Traveler, is the author of Restless from the Start (now out of print and replaced by Free Spirit), Everyone’s Dream Everyone’s Nightmare, Kiss This Florida, I’m Outta Here, A Million Miles from Home, Alaska Bound and Gagged and, Free Spirit – Born to Wander. Her books are available from http://www.aBooks.com or by calling 1-800-472-0438.