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Insights from Hawthorne Publishing

What can regional publishers do to sell their books?

Here are the ideas, and they can apply to self-published and to authors whose books are put out by larger publishers:

Know your market. From the first moment we think of writing a book, we need to know who will be reading it. Since it is our associates and friends in the state we care about (usually) we must aim our book and publicity at them. Hoosiers have interest in the arts, but more interest in history, quirky Hoosier things, movie stars from Indiana and state heroes like Ryan White They care about the Civil War and World War I. And that’s true for “niche” books also: define your interest group.  Whatever your book’s focus or interest, you had a reason for sharing it. Aim at the group that will care about it.

Bookstore sales, once our bread and butter, are not going to sell your book. There are only a handful of these outlets in our state, anyway. A few interesting new “boutique” bookstores have opened in the state and you should investigate them. You cannot rely at all on having a “book signing” at Barnes and Noble. These days B&N, which is struggling itself, will seat you at a table by the back rest room and you are on your own. Usually, few if any sales. They won’t turn your down, probably, not wishing to anger the local people. Unless you are a “name,” (in our case Dan Wakefield) very little will happen.

Concentrate on group sales and events where you can count on an interest in your book’s subject. This is intriguing to pursue. Book clubs are marvelous if you can find any way to locate them. You can ask around and let one club lead to another. We ask book clubs to buy our books a month in advance at a discount so the members can read them. The discussion of the book will be lively and well founded if the members have read the book. Ask yourself if your book is suitable for “corporate sales.” That is, are there institutions or groups who will want to present it for gifts to customers, graduation gifts, Christmas remembrances and the like? These people get a 50% discount from us, but sales of 90 to 100 books at a time are worth it!

Utilize the internet. Have an interest group develop before the book comes out, then ask those who surface with interest e-blast their friends and ask them to pass it on. Our authors blog, either on their own sites or on ours. We depend on our website, and update it every week. We push sales to the site, offering our credit card sales only through Paypal on the site. When we are doing niche releases to a certain audience with a book we know will be very popular, we defer placing the book on Amazon until six months have elapsed. Return from an Amazon sale is smaller than our retail. Deferring placement on the wholesale giant insures our bottom line will be favorable. We can also defer the e-book for six months; e-books though convenient for readers, have a very small return to the publisher or author trying to sell books. Eventually your book should be made into an ebook, not only for sales but for digital legacy value.

Be aware of small-town libraries. These places can be good places to speak but you must be quite alert. We put our authors in libraries only if the library has a definite promotional plan in place and seems pleased to have the person come. Then we supplement the visit plan with releases to the small-town paper and radio station. We like to get an interview on the radio. If we don’t take this publicity mini-blitz on for ourselves for a library event, it may be nobody will come. And I mean nobody. It is no fun to sit in a nice gathering room waiting when the hour arrives and—nothing. Historical societies, women’s clubs, Rotary or Kiwanis and the like can be good outlets.

by Senior Editor Nancy Baxter

You can see/order Nancy Baxter’s books by clicking back to the website.