Maybe I thought books magically sold themselves? No, I know that's not true. I don't watch TV or read magazines, but I'm guessing a lot of those best-sellers are advertised and billboarded and promoted all over the place. Maybe I just didn't notice them before now.
Maybe that's because I have always been a fan of walking through a bookstore, running my fingers over all those spines until something just sort of called out to me. My fingers tingle just a little bit when they touch that special book, as if the characters and I are instantly connected. I go by gut instincts.
I don't care if it's a best-seller or if Oprah loves it, and honestly, some of those big wig books have left me a little puzzled about why they are so big wig in the first place. I would trade ten of the latest and greatest for one of my all time favorites, but how does word get around about those favorites? For example, have you read The Education of Little Tree? Probably not, because it's old and quiet and small. But it's also alive and amazing and huge. You wouldn't know that by watching the latest lists or press releases, but ask around to some of your favorite reading friends and you might find that they know. They know, and their eyes light up when they speak of it.
So, when Women's Work was released last month, I didn't have a clue about how to get people to buy it. I can't roam from town to town haunting the local bookstores, silently nudging the patrons toward the shelf it sits on. Don't get me wrong, I would be happy to do that, but a self-published book isn't on shelves all over the country. It's on Amazon and B&N and a few other places, but there are millions of books so how do you help yours rise to the top?
I started with my local neighborhood bookshop. I asked them to take a few copies on consignment and, since they know me for all the blissful hours I've spent there, they agreed. Then I hit a few other bookshops in Seattle, and some of them took a few copies, as well. Next, I sent out a Women's Work bookmark with my holiday cards last month to all my friends. Basically saying, hey, please buy my book! I emailed dozens and dozens of bloggers, trying to give them free copies if they will write a review on their sites, but for every 10 emails I send, maybe 1 person even bothers to reply. So, now I am in the next phase -- paying people to read my book. Not exactly what I had in mind when I wrote it, but what can you do? There are several review sites that will guarantee to read your book and write you a review if you pay them. Some even have publications in which they print their reviews. Fees range from $50-$500. In my opinion, $500 is crack-smoking crazy, but I can deal with a $50 investment if it will get my book seen by more people. And you need to have those blurbs on the back cover! You know the ones -- "Amazing! The best book Ever written!!" The Aguila Press Gazette "Powerful and Thought Provoking" Kari's Kitten Kingdom
So, during my first month self-published, I have given away more books than I've sold, and have paid people to read my book. I'm glad I didn't write Women's Work under the promise of becoming a millionaire. Promoting your own book is like a second job. A very poorly paying and exhausting second job. But, I believe in this book. I believe that it is one of those that will some day be an old, quiet, and small gem that makes someone's fingers tingle. A book that will make your eyes light up when you speak of it. So, I'll carry on.