Sunday, September 19, 2010

Selling Fiction in Unusual Places

A friend of mine is writing a book and wanted me to share with her future readers how I’ve partnered with specialty shops to sell fiction. Until her project is done I am not at liberty to mention it, but what I wrote to her made me think it is time to review that topic with you once again.  Here are some of the ways I marketed my novel. I hope some of the ideas get you to thinking about how to explore your own work (fiction or nonfiction) for new ways to get it noticed.

~My novel (This Is the Place--available used for about $1 at  ) is based on my own story (very nearly a memoir) and is set in Utah. That made it suitable for souvenir shops, especially those in the Intermountain West during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

~My novel was based on family journals. That made it suitable for shops in and around the Mormon Temple that caters to genealogists and journalers.

~This novel's title is immediately recognizable by those who love history of the American West. That made it suitable for a launch at the Autry Museum of Western History in Los Angeles and other museum shops and bookstores that cater to history buffs.

~This Is the Place explores the subject of tolerance. That made it suitable for hippy/liberal coffee shops, Internet cafes, and the like. It also made it suitable as recommended reading for teachers focusing on discrimination.

~To broaden the possibilities of sales through teachers, gender issues are addressed in this novel. Many universities have women’s studies programs. That is not an avenue I’ve pursued, but I could.

~This Is the Place was published just before the Olympics in Salt Lake City. That made it suitable for airport stores--both specialty and bookstores. Airport bookstores are a tough nut to crack, but I did it even when my publisher couldn't. I used my retail experience and offered stores a point-of-purchase display box with a header when they bought six books or more. I handled this portion of book sales on my own. Guaranteed sales. Even said if the books didn't sell, they didn't have to pay and didn't have to return. It was an offer they couldn't refuse. Of course they sold!
You can also make retailers understand how selling the book and/or hosting an event for the author can be profitable for them. The more authors know about retailing, the easier it is for them to partner with retailers. I recommend my "A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions" ( ) as a start on learning what retailers are dealing with. There is even a section in it that talks about how retailers can benefit from hosting authors at their events.

This list gives you an idea of the way fiction writers should think about their books. They need to dissect them into different parts, think about how each will fit with the audience of different retail stores. The same process works when one is trying to get publicity for themselves and their books. We have to figure out how they are a fit for specific current events as they recur in the news.

An example of this: Whenever the Mormon Church or polygamist sects hit the news (which is often), that makes This Is the Place news or at least makes me an expert. (-:

Hope this helps you analyze your book for purposes of marketing it better. By the way, you'll see how I promote the tolerance aspect of this book on my Website at  . Very subtly. LOL. Find the tolerance link at the top of the home page.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

Search This Blog