This is a handout from a lecture I gave on March 10th, 2012, for 3Penny Publishing in Victoria, BC.
Getting Down To Business for Writers Workshop
Having your own business takes discipline, stamina, and a computer!
For today’s purpose, I’m going to focus mainly on using the computer as the rest is pretty basic, easy to look up, and you’ve no doubt heard it all before ie., the accounting and keeping track of every expenses & your car use etc.
Marketing a Self-Published Novel
– Non-Fiction has some differences and are often easier to write and sell. ie., can manipulate sales easier to get high rankings from Amazon.com*
First Steps (in brief)
1. Write the book!! This may be obviousto you, but to many it is not. Why waste precious time worrying about publishing etc? It could take you 1,2 or 3 years (or more!) and everything changes soo quickly in this industry. Just get busy and do it!!
2. Experience the Surrey Int. Writer’s Conference held each October in Surrey, BC. You won’t regret it, but unless you can afford to go again I would suggest you at least write a minimum of a few chapters of your book before you go. Read the next paragraph. Writing the first draft would be even more helpful to take advantage of these options at the conference.
Publishers/editors/agents are present to advise you 1-on-1. You hobnob with successful authors such as Diana Gabaldon, Jack Whyte and published authors of all types/genres. Some of these authors/publishers/agents give workshops which are ongoing for 2-3 days … a packed weekend of learning and sharing with other writers and wannabees.
Note: If you don’t find a publisher at the conference – you will most likely need an agent and they are difficult to find. There are lists (online) and books to read but the easiest way may be to talk to authors who write books similar to yours, Or read the Acknowledgements in a recently published book for the name of their agent. Lots of info on the web. Be aware … it may drown you. At this workshop, we were told that there are so few Canadian Agents they are too busy already … and very little opportunity for first-time authors! Now I hear the same is also true in the USA.
3. Research how to publish but don’t commit to anything too early! Your choices are: (a) POD (Caution: they charge via ‘packages.’ Do your research.’), (b) Indie or Self Publish with print books (like we did), or (c) Start with an eBook (there’s no guarantee of how a print book will do).
One of many great info websites/blogs: http://allindiepublishing.com/
4. Do I need a ISBN/CIP? Yes, they’re needed for bookstores and libraries and free in Canada. They’re easy to get, so IMO cover all your bases from square one! http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/publishers/index-e.html/
5. Bookstores – (a) Local independent stores may/may not carry self-published books. May depend on subject matter, space availability, subject matter, your popularity from current marketing. (40% comm. is usual). They may list your book online. Talk to them before you finish writing. * invaluable for info: Check out format of books like yours (font, pitch, spacing, title pages) and copy it; the clerk may be an author and will gladly share info with you. *Realize that bookstores have expensive real estate and they must feel your book will be worth having to monopolize this space.
(b) Chainstores (local or online) – Chapters/Indigo, Amazon.com, big boxstores (Walmart) etc. take a larger commission (@ 55-65% commission and you probably need a distributor as well (for an additional 15% or so).
(c) On-line bookstores – some have their own publishing arm ie., Amazon. Research. Ask around.
6. Join a Canadian/USA/International Indie-publishing association. Some are co-ops. Fees apply.
Watch Rebecca Kennel’s 2010 lecture from an earlier 3 Penny Publishing Workshop. It’s excellent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvcEMuWwNbc&list=UU90woABSqDsHGN7HkzaNFXA&index=3&feature=plcp
Marketing – Local
Now is the time to start work on a Business Plan and Budget for marketing expenses.
- Book Clubs – offer to lecture and/or give a discount. Libraries may buy 10 books.
- Join a Writer’s Group(s) – they offer critique – tap into their knowledge and support.
- Libraries – Talk to them about carrying your books and give a lecture.
- Lecture to schools and service clubs ie., Rotary, Lions Non-fiction? Local college, Rec. Centre.
- Farmer’s and outdoor Markets – books allowed, we were possibly the first to do this in many areas (’99).
Table fees range from $20/day for outdoor, ‘Farmer’s markets’ also have membership fees. Sidney Thurs. Night Market ($45) Don’t be fooled – many come to merely browse, walk dogs & enjoy the ambiance!
- Craft Shows – rarity not to allow books.
Outdoor ie., local parks during band concerts/special events. ($25 and up) Works better if your book is small when combined with another event ie., car show, agricultural/trade show; Indoor @ Christmas etc. (usually $100/day and up)
- Specialty stores – ie., Butchart’s for garden-related, gift stores, etc. Best for Non-Fiction
Marketing – Internet
1. Get your own website – check out different service providers prices, ask friends for advice. We use www.hostutopia.com with great success – not expensive @ $5.95/mo. The cost is if you have to hire someone. Consider a WordPress Blog – so popular now and a lot easier than the regular format. www.wordpress.com more options than www.blogspot.com We also have: www.bestsellingbooks.ca
2. Sell your book through your website using Paypal or Clickbank etc. We use Paypal and they now have a shipping component direct from customer’s order – no more waiting in line at the Post Office.
3. Make an eBook: eBooks are hugely popular now and ours are available in all formats. We use www.Amazon.com (Kindle format) and www.Smashwords.com
Smashwords supplies ALL the formats necessary for ALL readers for FREE. This gets you on Kobo, Sony, iPad, Kindle, iPod, etc. It can be tricky or simple and using MSWord works the best. Images can also be tricky. Smashwords has promotions and coupons for discounting books to friends/media or promotion.
Our Kindle sales have almost disappeared since they started their KDP* program for authors. Kindle also have a bit more complicated payout system (+ less commission) for Canadians but this is improving slowly. * Presently, they are giving away tons of ebooks under the KDP program. Goodreads.com has a long thread on their author’s experiences @ http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/760122-any-authors-in-the-kdp-select-program?page=1 (a must read – scroll down for most recent). I am now considering trying this program for one or two books.
4. Smartphones: Generate your own website/Facebook/Twitter barcode @ http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ post it on your website, on your book info handout, your poster etc. Any Smartphone can read it with the ‘Qr Barcode’ App. Open the App and it will use your camera App … you merely hold your phone close to the barcode as if you’re taking a photo of it. Once it’s a photo it will ask you to open the website or whatever. Great for seminars/workshops/trade shows etc.
More useful links: