Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Year 2012

I am getting ready to do some writing of a more personal nature, my annual Christmas letter.  As I reflect on the year 2012, it has, as for most people, been full of ups and downs. I will, however, remember 2012 as the year I got my first book published!  I hope 2013 will bring more exciting developments.

If you are looking for a last-minute gift for a child on your Christmas list, Amazing Animals by Design is currently being offered in several stores and retail outlets.  In addition to Tate Publishing, Christian Book Distributors (CBD) now offers both the paperback and PDF versions.  Amazon carries the paperback and the Kindle edition, and Barnes and Noble carries the paperback and the Nook edition.  As of this posting, they all appear to be in stock and available.

The audio version of Amazing Animals by Design is also now available.  It can be purchased by itself from Tate Publishing, but if you purchase a book, there will be a code in the back for a free download of the audio version.

I am continuing to do book-signings and book sales are going well.  Over the course of the past year, I have learned a number of things that could be helpful to other budding authors:

1) People keep asking me if my book is physically in any stores.  According to the old model of book sales, this would signify success and also be the easiest way to obtain a copy.  In the present times, though, things just work differently.  The answer to the question is "yes," it is in a few stores, but the likelihood of it being in a store near you if you do not live in an area where I have done book-signings is rather small.  Most of the time, it will have to be ordered.  I have found this to be the case with many books I've tried to obtain in recent years, but with present methods of distribution, it does not hinder sales.  Amazing Animals by Design is distributed by Ingram Distributors, from which almost any bookstore in the country orders books, and most any bookstore can order the book upon request and have it in a few days.

2) Along a similar vein, I think most of us budding authors had the idea that once we got our book published, it would pop up in bookstores everywhere, be placed on the end-caps or center-aisle displays (after all, it is new and fabulous, right?), and the sales would just happen.  I have learned that once a book is published, the work has just begun!  Any given bookstore has thousands of new books from which to choose every month when they place their orders.  How do you get your book to stand out?  Well, it's a long and slow process.  Like anything worth doing, it requires patience and hard work.  Every time you do a book-signing, every time you sell another book, your name is a little bit more "out there."  Sales increase as your exposure increases.  Pursue every opportunity, stick with it, and don't get discouraged.  I've had a few book-signings where I only sold one book, but I haven't had any "zero" book-signings yet.  Get out there, talk to people, spread the word.

3)  As my mentors at Tate Publishing have been telling me, your book is your business.  Work on it like any small business you were starting up.  No one else wants you to make it quite as much as you do, so be prepared to do the work yourself.  I've had some book-signings where the people hosting the signing did a tremendous amount of publicity and helped me out a lot.  At others, they pointed to a table and I didn't see them again till I was done.  One guy had hung the poster I brought him in the back of his store next to the bathroom.  I hang posters (if allowed), decorate my table, hand out coloring pages to children, and talk to everyone walking by.  If I just sat quietly at the table and waited for people to come ask questions, I wouldn't sell much.

4)  Tate Publishing also talks a lot about finding your niche - marketing to the groups who would truly be interested in your book.  I have found that some of the easiest places to get into for book-signings are coffee shops.  They love to have artists, writers, and talents of all kinds, and they are generally very friendly and terrific to work with.  If your book is geared toward adult audiences, these are your best bet.  They do not, however, attract many children.  Their main clientele is young professional adults, working people who are on a break, and retirees.  After visiting a number of coffee shops, I have realized that I need to pursue avenues where I will be in contact with children and their parents.  These are always much more successful for me.

I hope some of what I have learned will be helpful to some of you who have been following my blog in hopes of publishing your own book.  Keep following me in 2013 for the next chapter in this journey.  Exciting things are in store!

Merry Christmas!

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