Sunday, March 21, 2010
Self Promotion - The Plan
Okay, so now we get to it. How is some dodgy little banker (with a B) from Gympie supposed to whip up enough interest in his first book to pay his wife back the readies she's reluctantly siphoned off the family budget?
I've calculated, in my nifty little Excel spreadsheet, that I will need to sell 579 books at $19.95 each to break even (as there are exchange rates involved, this figure is rougher than a bikie's bitch). At $21.95 that figure shrinks to 498. If I can weasel $24.95 it's only 411.
And while it is likely at this point that I will be selling 6" x 9" (trade) size books because they cost no extra to produce (but the ever elusive postage will no doubt be higher), I don't want the price to put people off purchase. The question, and one that I'll be asking closer to the publishing date, is how much will people pay for a teen (young adult) urban fantasy novel? Even a really, really good one (shameless, unsubstantiated plug). Particularly if it's self published.
I should also mention that although my book will be available to US libraries and on Amazon, I am not including potential sales from these sources because I can't control them. Sure, I can have Createspace send out those promotional press releases, and I can send some books out to reviewers, but at the end of the day it's out of my hands. Also, to break even on Amazon sales I would have to sell 1387 books. Well, it could happen. In a perfect world.
So for now I'll focus on what I can do with my good looks and charm (scare small children perhaps). And for arguments sake, let's work with $19.95 RRP and 579 physical sales required. If it turns out I think I can charge more, I'll redo the figures later.
So what do I do?
Everywhere I look (well, everywhere on the net when I punch in advice for self publishing a book into a search engine) I'm told book signings are the way to go.
Ghostauthor, on the Createspace community forum, says he has had great success advertising in local rags prior to signings. I guess I can do that to (gonna have to sell more books to cover it though).
Okay. I live in Gympie. We have two bookstores. I approached one yesterday and it looks like I'll be right to set up shop there. And it's in a shopping center (yeehaa!).
The local library in Gympie has book signings, and they love a local author. A friend of mine published a while back and I went along to offer my support. I think she sold about 35 books (could be more, I'll have to ask). The locals in Gympie are very supportive. 579 minus 35, gives me 544 to go.
My internet surfing has revealed 10 to 20 books at a book signing to be about right, although a few have said they didn't get any. 30 up is considered a huge success. Well, my book is great (if I don't believe that, who will) and I don't have two heads or scales, so I'll assume 10 sales a book signing. That means I'll need 55 more events.
Hmmm....it's all a bit daunting when you crunch the numbers.
And I have, let me see, one tentative book signing penciled in. 54 to go.
Fortunately I have a very large city only two hours away: Brisbane has numerous bookstores and a libraries. Then there's the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.
My plan is to take two weeks off work, bunk at my brother's and cram as many in as I can. At 3 a day, for six days a week that'll give me 18 book signings. 54 less 18. 36 to go!
So whereto now? This little piggy's going to market. Every Saturday and Sunday there are markets all over the shop in South East Queensland. For $10 a stall I can set up a table and chair under a marquee, put up some posters and a blackboard with a 'meet the author' spiel, and Bob's my monkey's uncle. And the beauty of a market (assuming it works sales-wise) is that I can go back time after time.
Plus I have a further 4 weeks of holidays up my sleeve. If the book signings in Brisbane work maybe I can take the family to Sydney or Melbourne.
And if this doesn't work?
Well, I guess there'll be no surprises under the Christmas tree for any of our friends or family for the next ten years or so.
But I'm confident. Wouldn't do it otherwise.