How to Sell a Book

Did I mention that I’ve got a book coming out on Friday? Maybe not, because I thought the publication date was the 30th. But hey, it was orignally supposed to be out in May…

So, next week, I shall be doing the rounds of radio, TV, newspapers as I’ve done pretty much every year for the last 13 or so with launch of a new book. Then there’s the bookshops, both to check that the book has been ordered in the first place and then to organise a signing.

What do you mean you thought I meant being on the radio, Tv and in the newspapers? This is 2007! Publishers only sign big names and people with contacts. Without your own press list, you’re not likely to get past the first PA’s slush pile.

Relax; there’s more to being a writer than networking your way around Groucho’s on a sleazy Tuesday night. Think like an entrepreneur; you want your book to do as well as it possibly can? So sell it. Yes of course the publishers should sell it for you. They should also send it to all the newspapers, magazines, radio and TV outlets and they probably will. But they might not quite get around to chasing it all up. They’ve got zillions of other books to sell after all. So ring. Check with your local Borders, WH Smith’s or whatever your biggest national bookstore is and simply ask if they’ve got it. If they haven’t, tell them why they should have it. The big chains order centrally, but if you get enough of your friends to ring and ask about it, they’ll get the message through the local store soon enough.

Certainly ring your local independents. And while you’re there, ask about a signing. Most local shops love an event. Some will even provide the wine and nibbles if you can provide the punters. A party in a bookshop is a great gate-crashing opportunity, and bookshop owners love nothing more than a browser who wants to join in over a glass of wine. He’ll have ordered in enough copies to sell to your crowd, and will encourage as many others to join the party. And remember, once signed, those books can’t be returned either.

So next week, we’ll be travelling across the country to the towns where my co-author’s baby products sell like hotcakes, and we’ll tell the local papers and radio that she’ll be in town signing books. Shouldn’t this be the role of the publisher’s press officer? Of course it is, but we consider this more of a, shall we say, collaborative process. Wish us luck!

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