A little marketing can go a long way...
Marketing. This is a foreign language to me. And as a first time author it's all on me. But, I am slowly learning the game as I go. Since our December release, we have sold over 204 units through Amazon alone, over 150 copies privately and dozens through local and national bookstores and boutiques. I have the book in several local Los Angeles book stores and boutiques by consignment which means I get between 50-60% profit of any units sold, depending on our agreement. Any books that do not sell, I take back at the end our contract but I am finding that most stores have been holding on to the book as long as it sells and even extending my contract because it IS selling. When I ask the owner if they take books on consignment, most local shops are willing to help out and take them. I'm never pushy and always willing to take no for an answer. I like to make sure they see the book before they give me an answer because I am confident in the product and confident in our reviews. I make sure that I give eye contact and try to remember to tell them about the website with all the free downloads and activities, then slip them a card with all the website and contact information. The first time I went in to 'pitch a sale' I was so nervous, but now I know that there is nothing to be scared of. Store owners are generally very friendly and in my experience so far, have been very willing to help local authors.
Booking signings and readings with a 19 month old is the tricky part as I have no family to help watch him. I have been getting by with some help from friends and we have several visitors in the coming months so I am hopeful to book as much as I can. I usually read the book then have a short discussion about the lesson then play the song. This comes naturally for me as a preschool teacher in my past life. Depending on the numbers, I give the children stickers with the characters and website address and give the teacher a flyer with similar information so she can hang it on a class bulletin board. Stickers stick and usually teachers will hand them out at the end of the day so I know parents will see it. Also, most teachers are willing to tell their parents about your visit and book in their weekly or monthly newsletter and this is helpful in spreading the word about the book as well. I book myself at libraries, schools and preschools - anywhere I know my target audience will be.
Other great sources of marketing are goodreads.com - which has free giveaway offers. Within 3 weeks of my giveaway offer, I had over 673 people requesting to win the signed copy. That's the other thing - I have several copies signed by both Vivian and myself so that I can use Facebook and Twitter to offer giveaway offers myself. People love free stuff and I love that people want to win our book. I had an offer to give away a signed book as long as people 'liked' my Facebook page. Holidays are another great way of getting people's attention with free stuff. Right now, it's not about making money. It's about spreading the word about our book.
Collaborating with other small businesses and organizations is also key. For example, I reached out to the Socal Daschund Rescue Inc. and asked if they could bring a Dachshund dog that looked like Sausages from the story to our Book Launch Party. The children loved it. It was a hit. I told everyone about the organization and left out a jar for donations and the children got to enjoy our special guest appearance. We both posted pics on Facebook and a post about each other and bam! More books sold and more people know about this awesome non profit organization. Win win. I scratch your back, you scratch mine.
A Book Launch party is essential and ours was a total success. Vivian did a demonstration of how to draw Sausages. I made a ton of stickers, magnets and door hangers for the kids to take and packed animal crackers and M&Ms in little bags tied with blue and orange ribbon and stickers with the book on it. I had a 'special guest appearance' (Sausages) come in exchange for a donation jar left out for SDR Inc. My party cost me just over 100$. I offered little bottles of water and pirate booty. I didn't want to spend a lot of money. I knew people didn't come for the food. They just wanted their kids to be entertained for a little while. I filled the bookstore and everyone bought books. It was a total success. And it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.
Now that we're going national and beyond it's a whole new ball game. I submitted it to the San Francisco Book Festival and sent some copies in to the Parent's Choice Award Foundation in hopes of winning something to get more attention and I will be at the OC Book Fair in September. It's also been reviewed by a very popular Mommy Blog and that generated some big hits on my website. As far as I can tell, I think it has been pretty successful so far. But as I mentioned before, this is a whole new territory and I'm trying to figure it out as I go along. I have no clue what other books like mine are doing. How many sales should I have? We are going to make some small changes before submitting it to Barnes&Noble and Target but I am still so hopeful that this will take off in the next year or so. My goal is to sell 1000 copies by the end of this year. 'Pete the Cat' sold 7000 before it was picked up by HarperCollins and made into a huge global hit. It's going to take time and it's going to take persistence. I'm so new at this and sometimes I think am I even on the right track? Is this just a joke to think my little book could go a long way? I have to keep at it though, right? Get creative. A little persistence can go a long way. A little creativity can go a long way. A little marketing can go a long way. Let's hope I'm doing it right.