Jo, Wendy, Carla, and I spent last week submerged in the world of books. We attended the 2014 RT Booklovers’ Convention in New Orleans. I don’t know if their experience was like mine, although I suspect it was, but I’m going to give you a sample of what I learned.
1. Readers love books, and for the most part, they don’t care if the author is a big name or not. Yes, the lines for the bigger names at the Book Fair were amazing, but as I walked around the hotel, or more often, stood or sat in lines, people saw my “Published Author” flag and asked me about my book. Many, if not most, who did wanted to know how to buy my book or wanted my website. Which leads me to:
2. ALWAYS have your business cards with you. I went to RT knowing I wasn’t going to sign or sell, and I forgot my cards. I was asked over and over for it, unlike at an RWA conference when you usually have to offer it first. Readers wanted to know how to find me online.
3. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE – Your backlist is where the money is, so if you have to write 5,000 words a day every day for two years to build that up, that’s what you need to do. I went to a panel discussion where four multi-published authors (Jade Lee, Jennifer Armentrout/J. Lynn, Rebecca Zanetti, and Laura Kaye) talked about how they worked sometimes late into the night to be able to get up to a dozen books published in 2-3 years. They also don’t recommend that as a long term strategy, but an author who wants to make money needs a backlist.
4. Have a presence online. I spoke to lots of readers and bloggers as we waited in long lines and all of them said you need to be on Twitter, have an updated website, and be active online for them to find you.
5. No matter what you write, you have to promote. This is something Jo can talk more about one day, since her new nickname is Promo JoJo, but bookmarks are not enough. Pens and notepads are some of the most popular items, but if you can find something different, go for it. I have a corkscrew Catherine Bybee gave me and I’ll be looking for her books. We got fancy mirrored compacts, hand sanitizer, and emery boards. Those are things we’ll use and see those authors’ names over and over.
6. And that’s the key – You HAVE to get your name out there. It takes more than half a dozen exposures to something before customers notice, and even more to make then investigate further. Whether it’s an active blog, posting regularly on Facebook or just handing out bookmarks wherever you go, be visible if you want to sell.
If anyone wants to know more about our experiences at RT, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.