Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Start Local - Win Big

Every writer wants to be known nationally, if not internationally. They believe it takes a broad geographic reach in order to make sales. You might be surprised at how successful you can be near home.

What do you consider successful sales for your book? 5,000 - 10,000 - 20,000? How about 30,000 like Craig McManus in Cape May, NJ? His ghost book The Ghosts of Cape May: Book 1, is famous in the region. He knows and does anything to do with ghosts in the area. Writes a column, does seances, does ghost tours, and rides the tourist season like crazy. No book tours across the country.

Connie Martin wrote about the death of her daugher during a routine tonsillectomy. One book signing in local Santa Fe for Love Never Ends resulted in a sale of 300 copies.

Tom Edwards sells copies of "Ode To The Outhouse: Words of Wisdom From My Drill Sergeant and Uncle Clyde" from behind the counter of Ace Hardware in his hometown of Coshocton, Ohio and donates much of the proceeds to charity. His most recent donation was $5,000 to the arts center.

If you could only make a name for yourself locally without the Internet, where would you go, how would you start? Where would you sell your stories?

1. Join writers groups.
2. Attend book fairs.
3. Speak in libraries and museums, at school assemblies and celebrations for literacy.
4. Contact Chambers of Commerce and visitors centers.
5. Sell in gift shops that specialize in your region.
6. Get your book placed in bookstores under "local authors."
7. Sell from your place of employment.
8. Sell from places where you do business - shops, dentists, doctors, attorneys, real estate agencies.
9. Teach writing at the community center or technical college.
10. Partner with other people and connect with their businesses, churches, schools and clubs.
11. Sponsor events in the region.

In other words, become a local homegrown hero and celebrity. If you are a children's author, every school, teacher, librarian and principal ought to know your name. If you wrote a biography, every social charity, museum, library and Chamber ought to know you. Write a piece for the paper. Write a column for newsletters from schools and businesses. Become the expert at what you write about.

After you saturate your local community, move out to the entire state. Saturate it. Then the region. Why compete against the entire nation when you can lessen the competition and stick to your home turf?

Sales are sales. 30,000 sales in Cape May is no different than 30,000 nationwide. As a matter of fact, it 's better. That's a fan base that's ever lasting you can take all the way to the bank...and to a big publisher.


Sioux Roslawski said...

We (writers) definitely have to have a trunk full of our books at all times, poised and ready to hawk them at any and every opportunity...

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the tips, Hope. You have a knack for making me come away feeling like yes, I can do this. :)

Before we moved to KY, I lived just minutes from Cape May, NJ. Had to chuckle that my old county made it all the way to your blog.

Have a great day,

Hope Clark said...

I'm headed to Cape May this week, as a matter of fact. My son graduates from the Coast Guard Academy. Looking forward to seeing it. Sounds quaint.

Sally said...

We moved to the panhandle of Texas and discovered "Hank the Cowdog" in the giftshop of the local state park. The story being set in the area drew my son and I as much as the story line. I would have thought that an odd spot for a children's book but it paid off.

Julie Hedlund said...

Great tips! Also a nice way to think about targeting outside the morass of socialmedia.

Hope Clark said...

Yes, local can bypass the social media craze. It's old-fashioned, hands-on, word-of-mouth sales. Since these people tend to see you, hear about you, experience you more often and see you are a real being, they tend to support you more. Strong readership to have. No waiting for people to Google you since they see you at church!

Brenda said...

Yes, and echoing all the above. I was sick to my stomach when I realized the harder part of being an author was the self-marketing. Oh woe is me... I thought the hard part was writing the book, now I know that was the sweet part of the deal. I am new to the game so currently the social media maven on training wheels! Thanks, Hope. ( I think). :-(

Anonymous said...

Good advice.
Stop hiding your light under a local bushel.

BECKY said...

Another fabulous post, Hope, with great tips and advice!