Why grass-roots advertising is good for self-publishers

Libraries Work Because We Do!

Libraries Work Because We Do! (Photo credit: circulating)

I was feeling overwhelmed by the task of self-promoting my book recently, when another self-published author, sent me an article with a list of things I could do at a grass-roots level to promote my book. It reminded me that social media is not the only way to market my book and while I am building my social media links, I can pursue other avenues.

The article by Shannon Yarbrough suggested that as a self-published author you should invest in physical copies of your book, which you can give to the local library, local book club and local bookstore. Copies of your book can also be given to coffee shops, community centres, the local doctors’ surgery and the local hospital, where people sit around and read what is readily available in the book rack. You can also send your book to literary magazines and review sites.

Although I don’t have any physical copies of my book yet, I plan to look into the cost of producing some. Apparently, Createspace is quite reasonable but I still need to check this out. I have printed lots of leaflets promoting my book and I am slowly giving them out. As my book is a parenting book, many preschools, nurseries and schools have said that they are willing to distribute the leaflets to the children’s parents. I hope that these grassroots efforts will be fruitful especially as printing leaflets is not that cheap. The problem is that it is difficult to know whether the leaflets have actually been given out by the childcare providers so I have started calling them to check.

The other problem is that it is difficult to know what part of my marketing campaign is working. I know that people are downloading my ebook but I don’t know how they are hearing about it. Is it through websites and social media or is through my leafleting? If I knew what was working, then I could focus more of my efforts on that. So I guess what I need to be is clever and give out different coupon codes on my leaflets or tweets so I know which coupon code is leading to the most downloads (Smashwords.com allows authors to give out different coupon codes).

Corey Corcello, author of ‘Change Myself’, ‘Second Time Around’, and ‘Honey In Your Back Pocket’ http://circelloc.wix.com/author says, ‘I think the most rewarding part of self-publishing is that you finally get to see your hard work in print. Authors don’t self-publish just because they did not get accepted by a publisher. I have had two offers from different publishers to pick up my books, but right now, I like to keep the rights with me. I like to control what everything looks like and what goes into my books. It may be a little harder to get your name out there without an agent, but I feel like it is so much more rewarding to get your name out there just by word of mouth.’

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How much does an author make per book?

My Books

My Books (Photo credit: Jennerally)

Self-publishing a book is not easy and can take a lot of effort to get the word out. However, there is the potential to make a greater return than the traditionally published author as you can keep between 70-90% of your sale. Amanda Hocking, the self-published author of paranormal romance for young adults and EL James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey are examples.

I read on Amazon that a traditionally published novelist will get between 7.50% and 10% of the price received by the publisher. i.e. if a book costs £10.00, the bookseller gets between 50% and 65% per copy so average that at 55% which = 5.50 of the £10 leaving £4.50. If an author is on a 10% royalty they get 45p  per book sold therefore. The average sale of a first novel in hardback by an unknown author at the moment is 400 copies. A mid-selling author ( ie. not the first novelist nor J K Rowling) would maybe sell 2,000… so it can be concluded that there is not much money in being a typical traditionally published author.

Self-published authors should not get too excited though as the average author earned just $10,000 (£6,375) in 2011 and half made less than $500.

The figures show that getting rich from writing books is like winning the lottery but with a lot more hard work. However, as a newly self-published author, I want to take my chances.

 

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