The Author Earnings website has worked hard at 'scraping' data from Amazon's various sites to provide unprecedented detail on sales data. As Amazon now represents close to a majority of print titles sold, knowing what is being sold and by whom is very interesting indeed. The data shows that independent authors represent a large and rapidly growing fraction of book sales on Amazon. There is also ample evidence that having a book listed on the Amazon bestseller lists provides a substantial boost to non-listed titles from the same author. Overall, Author Earnings claim that they identified over 9,000 authors earning more than USD $10,000 per year, and half of that number were earning over USD $20,000 per year. Read the whole report, which goes into much greater detail.
Cleo Lynch, author of "Careering Into Corrections" has documented her own promotional activities in the hope that some of them might come in useful for other writers. Hear more about Cleo here and buy her book here.
- Publisher provided package of book covers
- Author biography
- Updated photo of author (perhaps holding the book)
- Updated list of previous talks
- Business card
- Pamphlets (rudimentary, as befits the technologically and financially challenged or more professional)
How did I start this ball rolling?
- Friends, rellies: Cousin worked for charity — gave talk for their IWD luncheon; some coverage in their local press. Sold some books (book sales are never staggering – just a steady trickle).
- Contacted Service Clubs and Social Clubs via email addresses and websites along with promotional material outlets — Senior publications (my age group), radio stations, newspapers (need to be innovative with covering letter — try to think of a catchy opening sentence). Did get one radio interview with Radio National). Not sure what book sales resulted from these initiatives.
- Sent promotional material to libraries – this has had very limited response, but am a friend of my local library, which resulted in an author presentation for which they did the promotional work, with leaflets, posters, on-line bookings etc. (From this I was asked to do two more talks, one at the Friends’ AGM on my volunteer work, and another at a local writers’ group on the pitfalls of publication).
- Always carry a package of book cover with business card and promo pamphlet inserted, and a copy of book. Learnt from experience that sales can result in the most unlikely places, e.g. conversations on a bus, functions etc.
In any event, the most successful of these initiatives has been from service clubs.
- Rewards and outcomes vary, e.g some expect the talk to be free and may offer wine, chocolates, free lunch/dinner, however many pay varying amounts for travel expenses and your time.
- If they enjoyed the talk, they tell others.
- Usually sell a trickle of books
- Opportunity to distribute promotional packages to interested persons and so tap into potential future engagements
However, as much of my modest fame depends on my interaction with the audience I ensure that my delivery is as professional as possible. So I offer the following:
- Prepare your talk, i.e. compose it, type it out, go over it, rehearse it.
- Ensure that your talk will not go over the allotted time (many of these clubs have gratis use of community rooms and have to vacate by a certain time),
- Ask for a microphone (and any other technology you might require), lectern for your prepared talk and small table on which to display your book (I take a plate stand) and promo material.
- Don’t read your talk – but keep it handy for reference
- Be aware of your target audience, i.e. if elderly, many will be hearing impaired, many will be inclined to nod off, (yes even mid-morning!), may have posture problems that compromise their comfort (One compliment I often receive is ‘I looked around the room and no one was nodding off!)
- Introduce yourself, thank people for attending, give brief overview of your book, why you wrote it etc. and if possible, try a little humour (e.g. I say ‘I wrote this memoir originally for my children and grandchildren, who I might say, are completely underwhelmed by it’).
- Speak slowly, use microphone, engage all audience (while some speakers recommend you focus on one spot, it is good to try to sweep your gaze around the room to try to engage as many as possible).
- By all means include readings from your book in your presentation, but I’ve found it more useful to limit fumbling for pages, by identifying one passage to read from the book, and then to include others in my typed out presentation, and introduce such passages as excerpts from my book.
- If you use power point, don’t use it as a passive tool – you are the speaker, power point is an accessory. Some of the most boring talks I’ve attended have been when speakers spoke indistinctly, leaving power point to do the work.
While compiling this, I received a phone call for another booking. I took details, i.e. date contact name, name of Club, email address of contact so I can forward promo material (or postal address). I gave my address for confirmation and details of talk. This takes my bookings up to August.