In the life of a book, the several months surrounding the release date are critically important. That’s when the largest percentage of sales takes place. We set off fireworks, generate a lot of interest, and try to draw new readers.
But we can't set off fireworks forever. Eventually the newness of our release fades . . .
The average author doesn’t have long—two, maybe three months—until other hot, new releases push ours out of the spotlight and out of the top twenty list. Usually after the initial hype has died down, sales will dip. And we’ll count ourselves fortunate if our book continues to have slow but steady sales after that point (as opposed to none at all).
My second book, The Doctor’s Lady, has been on shelves for approximately three months. So my book has likely hit its peak in terms of sales. If it follows the same pattern as my previous book, The Preacher’s Bride, I’ll continue to have sales and new readers, but the figures won’t come close to those initial release numbers.
As I’ve watched this pattern with both of my books, I’ve realized a couple of things:
1. We need to take advantage of the release time, capitalize on the spotlight, and do all we can to invest in marketing at that point.
2. We also need to look for ways to prolong the exposure of our books so that they don’t fade into oblivion so quickly.
After spending months writing a book, months editing, and then months preparing for the release (blog tours, book giveaways, contests, etc.), I think every author would like to see his or her books have a much longer exposure than 2 or 3 months. That amount seems so insignificant compared to all of the time and effort we put into the book.
So what can we do to fan the flame of love for our book, to keep it burning so that it doesn’t extinguish altogether? In other words, what are some practical ways that we can prolong the exposure of our books?
Here are a few things I’ve done or am planning to do:
• Do a book giveaway on GoodReads. I like to save this giveaway until after plenty of reviews are posted—then the reviews have the potential to spark even more interest in the giveaway.
• Offer to send signed bookplates to anyone buying your book as a gift for friends or family.This is something I’m doing for anyone purchasing one of my books as Christmas presents for loved ones (or for yourselves!). (Sidenote: a bookplate is a sticker the author has personally signed that you can affix inside a book. If you'd like one from me, please email me via my contact page with your mailing address and the name of the person you would like on the bookplate.)
• Advertise your book on Facebook (which is something my publisher is doing for me). Again, we can wait to do this after we have a lot of great Amazon reviews. Then when people see our FB ad and investigate further, the reviews can help garner interest.
• Occasionally share snippets of praise from reader emails or letters. Recently on Facebook, I shared a sentence from a letter I received from a 92 year old woman who’d read my book.
• Offer to Skype or teleconference with book groups. Last month I Skyped with a couple of different groups about my first book, The Preacher’s Bride. I’ve found Skyping to be one of the enjoyable things I do as an author. (And make sure to get the group’s picture for your website.)
• Schedule interviews, particularly around holidays/themes. Next month I’m doing a couple of radio interviews—one about Christmas traditions. Valentine’s Day is also a great time for romance writers to do giveaways and interviews.
• Enter your book into contests for published authors. Yes, each contest has a fee (usually about $25 and requires several free books). A final can give your book extra exposure, but even if it doesn’t final, you are getting your books into the hands of more readers.
• Offer to speak to local groups. Often such groups will allow you to bring books to sell. I’m giving the keynote speech at a one-day writer’s conference on Saturday. This winter, I’m also scheduled to speak at a library.
As I said, we need to capitalize on the initial hype that surrounds our book’s release. That’s the prime time to attract readers. But, if you’re like me, and you don’t want to see your book stall once you’re past the prime, then we’ll have to continue to look for creative ways to keep the book love going.
How about you? What are some other ways authors can prolong the exposure of their books? What have you seen work well? And does the small window of spotlight at release time disappoint you after all the work you've done?