Marketing plan, invoices, accounts receivable, these might as well have been words from a foreign language. They had no meaning to me.
I was asked to put together a marketing plan before the book was even out. After I found out what it should look like, I kept it simple. It fits on half a page. I ran into it the other day, and strangely enough, it’s close to what we’ve actually done. Of course, it wasn’t terribly specific, which may be key to a good marketing plan.
We’ve done well selling Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges on our own, and
I’ve had a few new authors ask me for marketing advice—who’d a thunk it.
So here goes. First check with other authors to find out what works for them. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Before our book was out, we met with Connie Bradley another Florence author who published a book last year, and her “first-book” mistakes won’t be ours. Networking works!
Remember those workshops on marketing at writers conferences? Well, I had taken a workshop from renowned Oregon author William L. Sullivan at the South Coast Writers Conference a few years ago on marketing. I dug out my notes, typed them up, and shared them with Dick Smith, my cohort on Crossings. Doing a blog on a regular basis was only one of his suggestions that we followed. He also said, “Remember E-3—energy, enthusiasm, excellence will sell books.” He also said to plan on a 7-year commitment. Dick, who is in his 80s, just pointed at me when he read that one.
The book was due out April 1, so I put together my “marketing plan” such as it was in February and fine-tuned my PowerPoint presentation that could be shortened as needed for each individual event. I figured any presentations and/or book signings would all be in bookstores. Wrong. I’ve done them in bookstores for sure, but also for services clubs, women’s groups, chamber groups, a senior living center in Eugene, and for the general
public in libraries, museums, and coastal tourist attraction visitor centers. And, I almost forgot, five different Friday evenings in a state park campground amphitheater. After each presentation, I sold and signed books—except in the campground (against policy). At presentations, I have a clear vinyl holder that holds a poster with book cover photo, price, and some info. I also have sheets with more info for those interested but not ready to buy, flyers of places to buy the book, and business cards.
We planned to do bookmarks, but did flyers instead that have places listed in Florence where the book is available and a second set for everywhere else outside of Florence. It simply says that the books are at bookstores, gift shops, and museums on the coast; bookstores, the airport, and historical museum in Eugene; and at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society in Portland. I placed these in libraries, chamber of commerce offices, coffee shops, and any place readers like to congregate.
I placed books for sale in bookstores for sure, but also in museums, tourist attraction gift shops (Sea Lion Caves, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Tillamook Cheese for example), and I’m still in the process of making sure every coastal library has the book. We offer booksellers the usual 40% discount and on rare occasions have books on consignment. I keep very careful records of each visit, copies of invoices paid, and invoices owed (accounts receivable—I’m learning.)
Dick covered Florence, and I started moving up and down the coast. I usually phoned ahead; not everyone appreciates cold calls and the very person I need to see may not be in. So I always have boxes of books in the trunk and invoices with me as well as info sheets to drop off for those who need more time. On those I call back within a week if possible. Some folks require several calls, but I’m never hard sell.
After the book is out there, I follow up, and I’m prepared to deliver if it’s not too far or to ship promptly. We charge shipping to the larger businesses, but not the small ones. Some things you just have to play by ear.
One piece of advice was to find out what was unique about your book and work with that. Since my book was about bridges that celebrated milestone anniversaries this year, I tried to make sure the book was a part of each bridge celebration and I succeeded as well as using each as an opportunity to sell books. Since Crossings is about history, it is being sold in museums, and since it is about great engineering achievements, I will contact the Oregon branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
And we will list on Amazon and have at least one distributor handle it as we venture farther from our comfort zone. These are next on my marketing plan.
This whole period since April 1 when the book was published has been a gigantic learning curve, full of memorable experiences, and I’ve enjoyed them all. Who knew I’d turn into an author who likes the marketing as well as the writing.
Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $3.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at http://www.connectflorence.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also available on the coast in bookstores, museums, and gift shops; in Eugene at the airport, the historical museum, and several bookstores; and in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society.
Judy’s PowerPoint Presentations:
November 5, Saturday, 2 p.m.––Visitor Center Theater, Cape Perpetua Visitor Center (south of Yachats)
November 12, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.––Visitor Center Theater, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport (just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge)
February 19, Sunday, 3 p.m.––Port Orford Library, Port Orford (1421 Oregon Street [Hwy 101])