This weekend, I will be at Satellite 4 Eastercon in Glasgow. I have a table in the dealer’s room and I will be selling and signing copies of my books.
I have been making all the necessary preparations: ordering fliers, printing out price lists, packing boxes of books into the back of my car, working out what costume I’m going to wear to the fancy-dress ball (I’m actually dressing up as one of my own characters, which made designing the costume a lot of fun). All the usual things that are involved in going to conventions if you’re an author. Lugging boxes of books down to the car make me see the appeal of e-books.
If you are going to the convention, please come by and see me. Otherwise, look out for pictures of the interesting sights which I’ll be posting up here afterwards.
Recently, Linda Yezak wrote a post on Author Culture about the marketing work she’s done for her book. She made the comment that for her the best marketing tool was physical contact. From my own experience, I would agree whole-heartedly with that.
I’ve made some attempts to promote my book online using Facebook, Goodreads, videos of me reading sections on YouTube and so on. I’ve noticed little if no impact from those activities. It’s hard to be certain as it’s not always easy to track a connection between people viewing that content on the web and going on to buy the book. That said, the only time I saw a correlation between online action and a spike in sales was the very first time I posted on Facebook saying that my first novel was available for purchase.
Aside from that first announcement, by far the most sales have come through me physically talking to people.
These physical activities can be a range of things. I’ve done library talks to small groups about writing. I’ve gone into schools and talked to kids both about being a writer but also giving advice on realising their dreams. I’ve been at a careers evening at a school (my advice about being an author as a career was to get another job to pay the bills). I’ve done signings in book shops, frequently getting mistaken for an employee. My biggest success in terms of sales numbers was the London Film and Comic Con, where I sold nearly all of the books I took with me and handed out over a thousand leaflets.
As well as leading to sales, these events are a lot of fun. I love talking about writing and my stories, so I really enjoy doing these sort of things. I had a great time at Comic Con.
In terms of advice, this is probably something worth noting. If you’re having fun, people will be interested in you and your writing. If you’re looking bored, people won’t want to talk to you. If you make having fun your priority for these events, then any sales that follow will be bonus. If you make sales your priority, you’ll be disheartened if you only sell a couple of copies and people won’t want to start talking to you when you’re looking dejected.
The other piece of advice is to take advantage of every opportunity to talk to different groups. My work occasionally allows me to travel and I’m happy to use that to support my books as well. At the moment, I’m in Seattle for a technical conference. While I’m here, I’m using my free time to talk to an alumni group about Child of the Hive. If you want to promote your books, pay attention for any opportunity that might come along.
I’m fully stocked with:
- 100 books
- Spare pens for signing
- Leaflets and cards with cover and blurb on
- A big poster
- And a bottle of diet coke for when I need a caffeine fix to get me through Sunday afternoon.
Looks like I’m all set for the London Film and Comic Con.