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Writing a book is only half the job. Selling it is the other half. So I was curious, what are good practices to sell your book? To sell all your copies. To make a demand higher than supply.

Many writers on Reddit (r/writing) suggest getting an agent so he/she can do business for 15% profit margin, however, I don't think my first book with 2000 copies in such a super local European market as Lithuania needs an agent.

My personal thoughts:

  1. Promote best parts of the book via YouTube videos 6-12 months before the release of the book. You can find such examples of Bukowski here: Share via social media and boost it to people who are interested in reading.
  2. Make a list of every single critic and media person that makes book reviews. Sent YouTube videos for them via emails. Lastly - book when it will be released.
  3. Announce the release date month in advance and make a buzz.
  4. Make an artificial shortage of supply. That means - give 1400 books for libraries, friends, etc. and leave only 600 books for the sale in highly selected bookshops.
  5. When there will be no books in a shop - write for media that "there is no books left in bookshops".
  6. Accept all interview offers and suggest interviews with book-related blogs/channels.
  7. Sign the contract with an agent and make another release with 5-10k copies before Christmas.

Does my plan look bad? I was curious what are good practices to sell your book? Tx!

  • 3
    This doesn't seem like a writing problem but rather a marketing challenge. You have a plan, a bit optimistic, but it can work. Yet it might not. Who knows? An agent knows the market better then you do probably. Hopefully has some contacts in the right places too. I suggest taking an agent. Or at least try to talk with one. You might like his information better then any of us might give you. – Totumus Maximus Nov 6 '18 at 11:59
  • Are you self-publishing? – Ville Niemi Nov 6 '18 at 12:30
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The problem with your plan is you are assuming every step of this works. What do you do when your (1) youtube videos get no views, or get bad ratings?

Why do you think (2) critics and media persons will watch your videos because you email them? (Instead of sending them to spam with the other twenty they got that day).

How do you (3) "make a buzz?" I mean, exactly, what makes people start talking about a book, from an unknown author, that they have never read?

In (4), why do these "highly select" bookshops even take a book from an unproven author? You have to prove to them you can bring bodies into the store, they aren't going to give you prime selling space for nothing.

All of this is a plan for a famous author that shops already trust to make them money, and critics and reviewers already trust to write a good story. That isn't you, and you are not going to trick them into treating you like you are famous.

Both shops and critics are fully aware that they have the power to sell books (or by giving them a bad review, prevent sales of books). You are not respecting that power, you are expecting them to perform this valuable service for you without any assurance it will work out. A reviewer seldom bothers to read a book that doesn't come with some assurance from somebody that it is worth reading. The "somebodies" in this formula are publishers, agents, and history (an author with a track record of success that is releasing a new work, but that contact is usually handled by their agent as well).

There is at least some trust with these people that they won't give them a ridiculously bad book; publishers and agents have already filtered out 95% of books, and an author that has published decent books will tend to write more decent books.

Learn to write query letters for agents and try to get them to read your book, and represent you. If your book isn't good enough, try to understand why and rewrite, and try again.

There are several instructors out there to help you self-market from being an unknown; Nick Stephenson and Mark Dawson come to mind (I haven't used either of their courses).

The biggest problem for unknown authors is getting heard, by customers, by critics, by bookstore owners, by media, by anybody. All of the professionals have strict filters in place because all the unknown amateurs think if they shout enough they can get something valuable for free; that critics and shop owners and the media are NOT concerned about their reputations and will promote anything. They won't.

Just like the agents, they act as filters to let only the good stuff through. Or in the case of critics, to make sure their audience doesn't spend money on books that aren't worth reading. The critics job is to improve the odds of being satisfied.

Try the traditional route. Your plan is for an author that is already a best seller.

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The reason to have an agent is to get a publisher. The publisher may or may not do a lot of this marketing but they will take care of the release dates, getting the book into stores, number of copies, etc.

Agents don't do marketing, though they might either refer you to a publicist or help you out, depending on their skillset. You would sign with an agent before publishing, not as an extra thing to do after you've started up your marketing.

As for books in a store, the store will take the number they want to take. They won't take fewer on purpose to create this magical storm of would-be readers clamoring for the book. They'll take the number they think they can sell and, if sales are good, they'll ask for more.

Here in the United States, there are many programs for local authors. The bookstore in my town is a local chain with 3-4 branches. They work with local authors and will even take local self-published books. They arrange book signings too. Our library also has programs for local authors and will take self-published books that meet certain criteria. Plus readings.

Find out what programs exist in Lithuania for national authors. As well as what exists in your county or town or city. Talk to bookstores and libraries. You're making a lot of assumptions about how things work. They seem really odd to my American eyes but then I don't know anything about book publishing in Lithuania. Make sure you understand the industry and then work with the folks you meet in person to get your book out there.

Good luck!

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