Presale – ah yes, every blog is crowing that “presale” is the key to real marketing success for girls like us. So, I’m all consumed right now with… well, that.
Some context, as you strap in for this leg of the journey: Art in all of its myriad forms and definitions has been as important to me as breathing. And as such, when I’m on a “piece,” be it a film, tv show, dinner for Mylove, surprise for Mylove, or just a note on the refrigerator, I go after it with every cell of me being. So a book, particularly this book, which is about a deeply personal journey is taking even more of all of me than previously thought possible. But I have learned over the years to “sleep on the plane,” that is, go full throttle til it’s done, which is a finite chunk of time, ‘cuz on the other side of done, there’s gonna be time to recover.
But, when you enter the stormy seas of self-publishing, there’s wave after wave of the “next thing.” From the website that you “better have” (really? But I wrote a book?) to the business cards you “better have” (really? But seriously, I wrote a book) to the social media channels that you “better have” (no, seriously, I wrote a book, doesn’t someone else do that for me?) to the Createspace account, bookbaby account, or any of the other self-publishing allies that help us get our words out, that require their lists of “next things,” (damn it Jim, I’m a writer not a printer!) the only way thru these hurdles is to keeping going. And how do we do that you ask?
…go back to the “self” part.
And like PInocchia who made that wish upon a star, it’s time to stand-up by yourself, girl! No strings! You wanted this, so enjoy it!
Yup, you’re an army of one, and like pregnancy, I’d venture to say, that we will all forget this part of the journey when it’s time to write another “baby.” But in the meantime, I have discovered another fact that my mother-in-law told Mylove when she asked about having children… “it’s different when it’s yours.”
Yes it is..
Way different. Maybe it’s the rush of seeing your baby take her first steps; maybe it’s that you’re so punch-drunk from the writing process; maybe it’s that you actually start to feel the wind under your wings; but whatever it is, it’s a new found enthusiasm that feels like the good morning giddiness of Christmas morning. You are the one stuffing envelopes, printing thank-you notes and… MAILING YOUR BOOK TO SOMEONE THAT ACTUALLY BOUGHT IT! And neither rain, nor sleet, nor the next good idea, will keep you from braving the pre-holiday lines at the post office to march right up to the counter and declare – Book Rate Please! (Which will get you promptly corrected, “Actually ma’am, we call it a media rate these days.”)
Let’s back-up. (Picture cool “flash back” graphics here.) Some details are in order if you’re trying to follow my lead (that is my mission after all).
Amazon, as we discussed in earlier posts does not have a way to “pre sell” your baby. Once you turn on the valve to the sales channels you’re live. However, as we also discussed earlier, you can buy & print books until you turn the channels on and sell them yourself.
Which is what I’m doing. For those out there taking notes, it looks like this:
Step 1: Write book.
Step 2. Make website – include a “store” function on said site.
Step 2b. Connect a sales engine/credit card app. I use weebly as a host for this site, and it has a free widget thingy (am I an IT girl or what?) called “stripe,” which functions a lot like “square,” if you’re familiar with the gizmo that pops into your cellphone or iPad and turns you into a walking retailer. This will connect to your bank account. The stripe app’s dashboard becomes your new favorite TV show, cuz it shows the sales In real time. And, tho’ it sends you an email for every sale as it comes in, it has all kinds of pretty graphs that shows your sales metrics—just like a real business.
A WORD OF CAUTION! I am using a ‘free” stripe app which does NOT allow for the collecting of tax or shipping. I could’ve made the asking price higher to include these things BUT – I wanted to reward the early supporters of my work. So I charged three dollars more than the price I set on Amazon, BUT I’m offering a signed edition. The truth is, I’m eating into the profit margin (which is higher than the royalty that Amazon will pay when we go live, but they do all the work). Again, I’m using this as a way to spread the word about my book to drive sales later.
Step 3. Start the promo engines (whatever you’re doing – point both barrels at your website...)
Step 4. Print out thank you notes and arm yourself with shipping supplies.
Step 5. Sign your heart out for those Charter Patrons – they were the first to put their money where their support is, gosh darn it. And as I looked at the first foot high stack of signed, sealed and ready to be delivered books that I FREAKIN” WROTE(!), all I could think of was how lucky can one girl be?
I took my box of “firsties” to the local Woodland Hills PO (dodging raindrops) and we now return you to our scene of me being corrected that you are to ask for a “media rate” for bulk mailing. And after you swear that you’re not shipping anything more dangerous than truth, they’ll award you rate HALF of the going rate for first class Such a deal. keep your eye on that girl, she’s got financial a geniuswritten all over her!
However, my evil plan to take over the world one pre-sale at a time hit a snag… there is no international book or media rate… and the cost to ship to England (my fourth sale) and Australia (my fourteenth) was going to be… wait for it… three dollars more than I charged for the whole book. Financial wizardess, that Scottie is… keep your eye on that one. She’s a genius! Oops! suddenly that genius hat pops into a dunce cap! (Hey! When did my life start looking like a cartoon?)
Well, as I said before, I’m doing this to honor the belief in me that my charter patrons are showing in me. So, I happily paid the fare. (But I did change my note on the sale page on my website – asking that any more international friends wait until Amazon takes over the sales on my release date of Nov. 10th.)
Now…some closing thoughts:
This is a strategy I admit, that while I’m committed to it, I’m not sure if I am doing the right thing. Cuz, what I really want to accomplish is to drive people to buy my book on Amazon. Sales there create rankings and that’s how we will build escape velocity to leave this orbit of “just a nice effort” to head for “respectable sales” which is a magic number of confirmed purchases that will make our baby show up on the radar of those who have the capacity and the reach to sell more of our books. (In a nutshell, this strategy is based on the philosophy that we can only sell what the audience KNOWS is available. In a nutshell, we can only sell what the audience KNOWS is available. And tho’ we’re doing everything we can think of to generate buzz, our reach as authors is only as big as our FB & Twitter followers. We need something bigger than we to tell the rest if the world out there that we exist
And, that next orbit is the “book selling” world of book stores, magazines, and “these so-called real” publishers – if we sell enough on our own the conventional wisdom goes, we will attract the attention of the world’s book stores, magazines and anyone else who smells “potential” (as in, potential for them to make money with us) but spends their money to promote us. A match made in heaven. So, that’s why I’m going after this tooth & nail. Makie sensie?
But this strategy has a part two: did I mention that Amazon doesn’t start to tally books sold (no matter how many you buy to sign at your public launch parties and readings) until their sales channels have been turned on (from your release date forward) I’m not getting any “credit” with Amazon for having sold these “pre-sale” books,
So the last steps in this process are; I will turn over the baton to a real store with a real packing and shipping department on my release date AND I will link my store page directly to Amazon and get out of the middle, like a real author.
As fun as it is to play “store,” this Pinocchia has got other things to do with her time…
Like promote! But that’s a subject for next time.
Blog Byline: Scottie Madden
Scottie currently lives with her love in a treehouse in the shadow of LA’s infamous “dirt Mullholland,” with their black dog Aria. When she’s not pretending that developing, writing and running television shows is anything other than a dream come true, (if they find out it isn’t hard at all, they’ll make us work!) she is cooking up some wild adventure in food for her friends and family.