Time for another piece in my Minimum Wage for authors series. Pretty much, I have been discussing ebooks. For a while, ebooks were going crazy. Readers were filling up their Kindles with tons of cheap and free books. Bingo! The Kindles are either filled up or readers want to read what they have on their readers first. Makes sense to me. I'm not saying you can't make money selling ebooks, but it's not as easy as it was last year.
So, what do you do? Well, you could write books that are so good they knock everyones' socks off and the word of mouth travels faster than a raging forest fire fanned by 50 mph winds. That's what you should be doing anyway. This is step one.
Step two. Get your short story collections, novellas, and novels in paper form. Yes, you're saying, "Blaze is a flaming idiot. My ebooks are not getting me the money I want. Who will fork over $10.00 to $15.00 or more for a paper back?"
Wipe that stupid thinking inside the box theory from your mind. You are smart enough to write a great book. Now market it! Hire a Publicist. You will be amazed at the difference that makes. Your name is everywhere. Get on Twitter and retweet for other people. It will come back to you. Get an author page on Facebook. Don't be spammy. Tell folks about other authors' books. Make certain your website is more about others than it is you. Once more, you will be making friends everywhere. What a pleasant way to find great new authors and friends too.
Now we come to some Blaze McRob tactics. Take your books to the local bars in your town. Arrange with the owners or managers to allow you to have book signings. Guess what happens? They give you a look that says, "How do I get this Bozo out of here?" Until . . . until you say, "I'll make it worth your while. Let me put up a sign at my table that says, 'Buy a book, and I'll buy you a beer' " Wham. You have their attention now. Make sure you allow at least $1.00 tip for the waitress or bartender. They will send folks to your table.
I've mentioned this in another article a ways back. Authors are still reluctant to try this out. Hey, I can't force you. I am merely suggesting. Simple math once more. You have a book that sells on Amazon for $15.00. If you self-publish, that book can be bought by you on Createspace for about $4.50. Okay: You order in bulk to cut down on the shipping costs and you might pay .80 a book. You're up to $5.30 now. add in $4.00 for a beer, and a $1.00 tip, and your expense is $10.30 now. You make $4.70 per book. The naysayers in the back of the room are screaming that that's ridiculous. If someone buys that same book on Amazon, by the time Amazon takes out their piece of the pie, you're making anywhere from $2.00 to $3.00 on average. Doesn't sound so stupid now, does it. And there is no limit to the number of bars you can do this in.
For those who don't drink or care to go to bars, this can be done in coffee shops as well.
How about libraries? Get your book in there, and have signings there as well. Now, you're the local famous author. Swag can be easily arranged there: fancy bookmarks, coupons for coffee shops - even better if the library has their own coffee shop - and more. Have buy two and get one free if you have multiple titles. Or buy one and get one of lesser cost for free. It all works.
Set yourself up at craft shows, flea markets, festivals, and other things of like nature.
Antique shops are good. How do I know? I sell used books, comics, and new books there in my store within a store. I'm the only horror author in the city, and perhaps the entire state of Wyoming for all I know. Which books sell the best? My books. Why? Because I'm local. People like to know a real author.
Another thing you can do at a signing is to get ebook codes for the paper backs you're selling and if a reader buys a paper version, give them the code to get a free ebook as well. What if they don't want an ebook of that title? Have other codes, or get their email address and send it to them. This is particularly handy with Smashwords. By the way, you do have a plan set in place on Amazon where if someone buys a paper back they get the ebook for free, right? If you don't, shame on you!
Now, I have a completely different approach to selling paper backs at book signings. I was going to divulge this later, after a particular novel of mine was published. Also, I have a collaboration book I was going to do this with as well. This is so simple as to make me wonder why other people are not doing this. In my novel, a friend of mine is the hero. I use his full name. Okay, so I am always the hero in my stories, but it is through my buddy that my escapades are brought to life. Come book signing time, he and I both will sit down at the table and sign the books. I worked with Ed for a number of years, and we will have the first signings at our work place. Since Ed works in my home city of Cheyenne, we can do it all over the place. Ed is very excited about this, and I am too. You don't think this will work? I'll give you facts and figures when we do it.
Yes, some of these things I have mentioned you have heard of before. Some you haven't and maybe you won't consider doing these things. You can have a table set up close to the restrooms in a book store like a friend of mine did, or you walk in as if you own the place and tell them you can sell some books and you would like table space in the front of the store.
Ed and I know what we're going to do. We're going to party hearty as we sell some books. Look us up when you're in Cheyenne. I'll buy you a beer.