Saturday, January 16, 2010

Marketing Our Self Published Book

"The Bay Gull" is our first book which was self published and if you have followed our story, you'll know that the decision to go this route was so we could launch our book while on a trip to Rhode Island. We needed a fast way to get the book from the computer to a finished format. We already had the completed book and illustrations and in March, 2009, we began our journey to self publishing. Four months later, just in time for our vacation, the book was available for the public.
Our deadline was a great motivator and we highly recommend having a firm date in mind. We worked backwards knowing that we had to have the book finished, completing the multitude of activities that needed to get done in order to make it happen. We had a very busy 7 day trip filled with book readings and author appearances.
Before having the first date set, we created a Facebook Group (which is now a Facebook Fan page - please join!) to get the word out about the book, asking people to join our group and for their suggestions on book reading locations. In addition, we created a website for TINK INK Publishing which has a calendar where we could add upcoming events.
About six weeks before the trip, we started scheduling author appearances by calling people who we already knew, letting them know we would be in town debuting the book and that we wanted to have an event at their location. As you can see by the list, all but one of the events were a result of working with people who we already knew:
  • A daycare owned by a friend
  • A gift shop owned by a friend
  • The bagel shop featured in the book and owned by a friend
  • The book store down the street from the bagel shop referred to us by our friends at the bagel shop
  • Our parent's driveway on the parade route for the Fourth of July parade
  • A bookstore that we arranged by contacting a local person who holds weekly storytimes
  • A bookstore where a friend's father works
Through another friend, we received a list of almost 60 local news contacts. Two weeks before our arrival on the east coast, we e-mailed press releases which included information about the book and our scheduled appearances. The press release also went out to about 400 personal contacts through e-mail and to all our Facebook friends. Several news contacts picked up our appearances for their local calendars of communtiy activities. Our weekly storytime new friend, Anika Denise, wrote a review of the book for her widely read children's book story blog which came out in the paper on the same day as our first book reading.
In addition to sales the day of the event, most of the locations purchased books to have in inventory. People gave us great suggestions on other stores who may be interested in carrying the book. For two days, we traveled around visiting some of the recommendations and our favorite shops. Our opening usually went something like, "Hi, my name is Mona and this is my husband, Emerson. Emerson recently wrote a children's book about Rhode Island and our friend .... from .... thought you might be interested in carrying it." Or, if we didn't have a referral, we would mention that we loved their store and thought it would be a good location. By the end of the trip, we were excited to have the book available in 13 stores.
We owe a world of thanks to our printing company, Premier Graphics, who did an amazing job meeting our deadline which enabled us to sell over two hundred books in seven busy days.
Since July, our marketing efforts have continued and we are now working with 20 independent businesses including non-profit organizations (Save the Bay, The Herreshoff Marine Museum and Linden Place) and an on-line store for children's books, Winmark Communications. We are always looking for new organizations to work with and new sites to feature our books so if you have any great ideas, please share!!
Mona & Emerson