"What has worked (or failed to work) in terms of promotion and raising awareness for your output?"
In February’s Q&A, John asked, “What has worked (or failed to work) in terms of promotion and raising awareness for your output?”
Funny timing on this question, because my partner Lori Michelle and I were just discussing something we had tried in the past that we are still surprised didn’t work.
A couple years back, using quality paper with an expensive company printer, we created 100+ catalogs of everything we had published and everything we were planning to publish in the near future.
The catalogs included plot descriptions, ISBNs, price details, contact info, etc. We folded them and stapled them together and really spent hours doing the DIY thing making them look as nice as possible.
Here was the front cover:
And here’s a sample of an interior page:
Then we mailed them out to 100+ independent bookstores throughout the United States.
Not a single one of them ever contacted us.
I am still pissed about this.
Of course, we distribute our titles through Ingram, so it’s highly possible some stores did see the catalog and then ordered directly through our distributor without talking to us first, but I suspect that didn’t happen. I suspect they were all thrown in the trash, unread.
The only time bookstores seem to stock us at all is when a title has already done extremely well and has created some good buzz. Seldom do they stock our new titles when they first come out. We are not a very big company and it’s not the easiest to convince stores to stock us. There’s also a stigma with print-on-demand books and a lot of stores tend to avoid them altogether. POD books aren’t deemed “professional enough” by many stores, which sucks, because Lori and I pretty much dedicate our every waking breath to these books.
I don’t know what the secret formula is, to be honest. Ideally I’d love more stores to stock our stuff. Maybe a better distributor who’ll do the work for us, since my “mail every store in the country a DIY catalog” method didn’t seem to do much of anything besides waste our time and money shipping them out.