I've learned three important things from this first experience I'd like to share with new authors and those doing a lot of their own marketing (if you don't already know, which I'm sure many of you do).
- Hearing 'No' is the worst thing that could happen. If you approach a bookstore or other venue, knowing that the worst thing you could hear is 'No' then you're already prepared. It's not big deal - you just move onto the next one. Don't let the fear of 'what if' prevent you from marketing yourself or your book.
- Follow your genre. Not all bookstores and booksellers sell every type of book. With some of the big bookstores closing (like Borders which was a big draw around here), a lot of smaller bookstores are popping up and doing what they can to draw in the business. Not all of them though sell such an eclectic selection. One of our local bookstores, sells only used books (absolutely nothing newly published). Another specializes more in local interest and outdoor. Be sure you're approaching a bookseller who carries the genre you're selling - you'll be more likely to get a 'Yes'.
- Curb appeal. One thing I was told by the bookstore owner is that he liked my book cover and that selling a book is often a lot like curb appeal. People are more likely to pick up a book with an interesting cover, which gets more people looking at it. If you're working with a publisher, chances are you don't have much say on the cover, but if you're self-publishing, you have a lot more leeway. Take advantage of that and get opinions on your cover before printing-be sure it has 'curb appeal'. Invest in a good designer or if you can do it yourself, invest in good quality cover art or photographs. It will be well worth it and you can often find amazing graphics and pictures for less than $10.
- Bookstores aren't the only option! Don't let getting your book on the shelves stand in the way of the other options available to you. Online book selves have long surpassed those in bookstores. Read this post by Terry Cordingley: Demand Creates Supply, Not the Other Way Around.
- Don't stop! In the end, it all comes down to how active you are in promoting your book. Whether you're self-published or are working with a publisher, the need for self-promoting and self-marketing never ends.