As promised, I’m posting an interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager this week.
For those who don’t know, Krysten is the author of TRUE COLORS published as an e-book by small independent Astraea Publishing. The idea for an interview followed on from a conversation about guest-blogging … it didn’t take me long to figure out that what readers of this blog would really want to know is – WHAT is involved in getting sales when post publication? No doubt there are as many answers to the question as there are authors but here is an insight into Krysten’s experience!
How did you get your publisher?
I was in a freelance writing group while I lived overseas and two of the women in the group had mentioned they also wrote books and named their publisher. I guess I sort of filed the name away and years later when I moved back to the United States, I decided to send my manuscript to that publisher.
How have you gone about marketing and promoting your book?
I was a journalist and essay, short story, and humor writer before I got my book published, so I had begun to make connections with people and gain an audience. I think it’s key to start that before you get a contract.
Can you say, on average, how much time you spend on marketing/promotion?
No clue! I’m not a structured type person, so you’ll never see me with a schedule that says this time is devoted to xy or z. I’m sure people who do live their lives that way get way more accomplished in a day than I do, but I don’t do well that way. I’m too much of a free spirit to say, “Okay, ten a.m. it’s yoga class, then I’ll deal with emails, then lunch.” Nope, that’s not me at all. I try to get my emails out of the way before I write, but that’s about it.
In terms of sales, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?
Writers always say you never know what it was that you did that made a sale. I always thought, oh they must have a clue, but nope, you really don’t. I try to stay away from focusing on sales and that side of it because it really zaps the creative energy.
In terms of exposure, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?
Making connections with people well before you ever get a book contract. Going to conferences and workshops beforehand is crucial. Learning as much as you can about the business is so important. And you have to start before the book comes out.
What advice on marketing and promotion would you give to someone starting out?
Make sure you get other work out there well before you sign a book contract so you already have people aware of what you do. People need to see what you can do before they’ll consider investing in your work. If people hadn’t read my articles and essays before the book came out they wouldn’t have known what my writing style was like. It’s kind of like how you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive first.
If you wanted to become a doctor, you’d go to med school. The same is true of writing and publishing. If you want to be successful then you’ve got to learn how to do it—take classes, go to conferences, workshops, read, read, read. There are no shortcuts.
Is there anything you have learned that would make you do things differently when it comes to promoting your next book?
I was so busy the day the book released that I didn’t have time to enjoy the “book birthday.” People kept asking how I celebrated and I didn’t celebrate at all—I was busy ALL day. I wish I could go back and just appreciate that moment and not get caught up with all the rest. You only get one big debut birthday and really, I missed it. I had one moment at about one in the morning where somebody said it had become an Amazon bestseller and it was the first time all day that I just stopped for a minute (basically because I was falling asleep) and I thought, oh wow, but by then the exhaustion had kicked in because I had been awake over 22 hours! Oh yeah, there’s another tip for ya—get some rest the night before!
Thank you Krysten!
Though … nothing at all what I’ve done. Ah well.
Back on the coal face, in the last couple of weeks my main focus has been reaching out to schools ahead of World Book Day because I realised that, surprisingly, not all schools had yet got themselves sorted with author visits. So far I’ve sent out something like 20 emails … but I’ve not heard a sausage back, even though much effort went into honing my pitch. Anyhoo – there’s still time to hear, so fingers crossed! Other random progress has been:
– Contacting Dulwich Books. Although the person on the phone was very nice and gave me an email address, my impression is that I will have to write a really good letter if I want to get anywhere. As if by magic, someone very handily posted this on the SCBWI FB page: http://dulwichbooks.co.uk/independent-authors-tops-tips-from-a-bookshop/ Couldn’t be more useful … but I haven’t quite got round to putting fingers to keyboard.
– Being contacted by the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries for 5 copies of UMA & IMP to be kept by such illustrious bodies as the Bodleian Library. It cost me postage and the price of 5 books and yet … I was chuffed. It is standard for publishers (reminder to me: yes, I am one) to send a copy of every publication to the British Library, which I did but had half been expecting them to send it back so being asked for more seems positive … very illogical, I know.
– Completing the registration for Skype in the Classroom. And already receiving one enquiry from a school in Virginia.
– Writing two chapters to the next book (woohoo).
– Receiving a glorious bunch of Thank You cards from the class I visited early in January. Really touching and made my day.
And that’s it – doesn’t feel like the most productive fortnight but hopefully some of this will bear fruit in the weeks to come!
In terms of sales, through the whole of Jan, 12 books sold plus 14 going through Amazon, though that’s a bit of a puzzle, more about which at another time …
Thank you for reading!