In the run-up to self-publishing her second book, Irish indie author Lorna Sixsmith, who self-published her first book on 29th November 2013, reflects on some mistakes she made first time around – so she won’t make them again!
Choosing the optimum time to publish your book is important particularly if you are targeting Christmas gift buyers or summer holiday readers. I ran a crowdfunding campaign during the summer of 2013 and promised my pledgers they would have my book by the end of November, perfect timing for Christmas gifts. As I had only written 10,000 words by the time the crowdfunding ended on 20th August, I had a busy three months! I had a goal to sell 400 by Christmas and succeeded in selling 750.
Lesson Learned: Although I exceeded my goals by getting the book out for Christmas sales but in hindsight, if I had published it in September, and managed to get it into more shops, my pre-Christmas sales would have been higher. My next book will be out in September.
#2. Think Big With Press Coverage
I’ve had experience in generating press coverage for my previous business, getting mentions in newspapers and magazines and doing radio interviews. I had one radio interview lined up on a early morning national farming and was confident of getting local radio interviews. I also had contacts with the local newspapers and was hopeful of securing a feature in two of them.
Quite by coincidence, I heard a farming discussion on a national radio station and as it focused on one of the issues in my book, I posted them a copy. Two days later, I received a call from their researcher interested in interviewing me. On 12th December, I was interviewed by a high profile radio presenter on Ireland’s most popular radio station 2FM.
Lesson Learned: Don’t be satisfied with a couple of press mentions – aim for more. Listen to radio and read newspapers and see if there are any relevant stories that you can ‘piggy-back’ on.
I knew it could be difficult to get a self-published book into bookshops. I had heard sales of 250 copies plus press mentions were an absolute minimum to be considered by the wholesalers. As I had secured sales of 200 via the crowdfunding and I was going to be selling the books from my website, my goal was to sell 400 by Christmas. I knew a few people with small shops (lingerie, farm shop, upcycling shop) and they took my book on a sale or return basis. For some silly reason (probably to do with under-confidence), I didn’t ask any of my local bookshops if they would stock it. As a result, scores of people were going into bookshops after my radio interview and the booksellers didn’t know anything about it. Daft? – yes!
Lesson Learned: I would really recommend contacting wholesalers and local bookshops if you secure a good radio or television interview.
#4. Don’t Forget the Small Shops
By May 2015, my books were available in all bookshops and gift shops via the two Irish wholesalers, Argosy and Easons. I thought that was all I needed to do. However, a friend in County Clare recently took a box of my books as she was visiting a number of small gift shops, garden centres and farm shops. They took a number of books on a sale or return basis and they are selling.
Lesson Learned: While I won’t drive around the country with the sole reason of visiting small shops, I will be seeking them out when travelling to deliver training and yes, I’ll be asking them if they would like to stock both books.
#5. Never Say No
I’m pretty good at saying yes to journalists when they contact me for an interview, and I always have high-res images available. After securing a television interview last May, I was asked to do a few radio interviews and that was fine. Then I was contacted by a glossy magazine, the type that include close up shots of attractive people in their beautiful homes. I didn’t say no but I let it drag on and the journalist lost interest. That magazine sells over 30,000 copies each edition and would have a much larger readership than that.
Lesson Learned: Always say yes to journalists when they want to interview you!
OVER TO YOU What lessons have you learned since self-publishing your first book? Join our conversation by leaving a comment!#Authors - 5 lessons learned about #selfpub by @WriteOnTrack_L as she launches second book Click To Tweet