I have certainly not hit the big time yet, but I have gone from a self-published author to having my book in book stores. I have been able to land some impressive TV and radio gigs. There have also been some newspaper articles written about "Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee". (Visit www.DragonflyWings4Emmalee.com for more specifics)
What I have learned so far.
1. I thought, after my interview with Carole Makita on KSL-TV, an interview on KSL radio, being on the morning news with Fox13 and being a guest on The Morning Zoo 97.1 in Salt Lake City, that my book would be a hot commodity. It sold a couple of copies after each of those interviews. The same thing for all of the other press that I have received. Do you go out and buy a product after just seeing or hearing about it one time? Usually, people need to hear about it and see it many times before they are convinced to purchase it. Press builds your credibility more that it creates sales.
2. To create a "World Wide Rave" you have to be different and do something that is out of the ordinary. If someone has already used a particular marketing strategy, it is not likely to capture attention. Who was the second man to walk on the moon? Not many people know because second does not get the attention. I spend hours trying to think up new ways to get peoples attention without overtly selling. Trying to be the first person to come up with that attention-grabbing creative idea is the hardest part.
3. You have to find a distributor in order to get your book into bookstores. As a self-published author, you will not be able to sell your book to bookstore on your own. Between the distributor and the bookstore they take half of your profit. Getting your book on Amazon is a lot easier that getting your book in a bookstore.
4. In order to get press build relationships with media people. Join conversations on Twitter and Facebook. Send them relevant and good information about potential stories. I have done this many times and got lucky the few times. I still send out information periodically, most of the time receiving no response.
5. Find the problem you book solves for people and use that as your hook. Emmalee's story gives people inspiration, pushes parents to love their children more, helps others with cancer feel more normal, helps people know what to say to the grieving, and helps people grieve a loss. Being a counselor allows me to help others solve some of these problems with, hopefully, some credibility.
6. Know who your potential buyers are. I have learned that a higher percentage of my readers are women who have children. I would love more men to read the book, but I think they are too afraid of crying. Market to your audience.
7. Create memory hooks that will trigger people to think about you and your book. Naturally, a dragonfly often times reminds people of Emmalee or her story. It has been really nice to have people send me photos, pictures of dragonfly products, or tell me how they were strengthened by seeing a dragonfly. Find images or items that will remind people of your book.
8. Once your book is in bookstores go and talk to staff and tell them about your book. They often recommend books to their customers. If they put your face to the book and story they may just do some marketing for you. I took some t-shirts into Deseret Book for the staff to have. Hopefully, that will help them recommend my book to their customers.
9. When you walk into a bookstore and see all the competition it is very humbling. It is hard work and you have to try to do something everyday. Blog, e-mail, FaceBook, t-shirts, sending information to press, give-a-ways, and mostly trying to find ways to be the first to come up with the creative idea that makes your book "tip". I have not found this yet, but am still working on it.
"Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee" is available at Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book and Amazon.com It is available in e-book form on www.bn.com
Steve Havertz, LCSW has been in the mental health field for over 20 years and is an expert in grief and loss. He also advocates for pediatric cancers and speaks on these two topics.