I Had an Epiphany Today!

For the past six to eight months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to sell books online. I’ve been roaming the internet, experimenting with various social networking sites, but everywhere I went I ended up in a writers’ community. Not that it’s a problem — I’ve met many fine authors, found some good books, learned much about writing. Still, I want my novels to find a readership, so I roamed further afield, signed up for some author/reader sites. And guess what — there I found those same authors. Finally I decided to spend my time on Goodreads and other book sites and have found mostly . . . yep. Authors.

I’m exaggerating here. Of course I’ve met readers, voracious readers. The problem many readers are struggling with is that they already have stacks of books to read, or they read constantly and can’t afford to buy all the books they want to read so they haunt libraries and used bookstores, or else they set up books blogs and do reviews and get so many free books they don’t need to buy any. Readers also tend to stick with a single genre and the authors they’ve already read. Many, of course, are adventuresome, and will try new books by new authors, but these readers are so overwhelmed by the incredible number of books available, that the chances of them finding your book are zero to zilch.

So, what do we poor authors do? Ah, here’s where I had my epiphany. Promote to non-readers! Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Think about it though. We all talk about there being so few readers in the world, yet DB has sold zillions of books. Who is he selling the books to? It has to be people who seldom read. Somehow, someone convinced those non-readers that they had to read his books, and they rushed out to buy the novels.

How does one reach these non-reading readers? If I knew that, my name would be as well known as Dan Brown’s.

DAIDaughter Am I, my young woman/old gangsters coming of age adventure, will be available from Second Wind Publishing in two weeks!

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11 Responses to “I Had an Epiphany Today!”

  1. L. V. Gaudet Says:

    My husband is one of those notorious non-readers. He’s just not the reading type.

    Yet, he just had to go out and buy Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and read it. Then he had to read the second book in the series.

    Why? The hype. No, not the hype as in advertising, celebrities, or reviews. It was the common Average Joe to Average Joe word of mouth hype. It was hearing other non-reader types that he knows talk about how good it is. It doesn’t matter if they actually read it or not, just the thought that if “these guys” read it and liked it, then he needed to read it too to find out why other non-readers said its a must read.

    I’ll have to get them to put a word in for me so maybe he’ll read mine when the time comes.

  2. joylene Says:

    This is an excellent question, Pat. And one I’ve struggled over for 18 months.

    Every morning I receive a hundred emails from hungry writers promoting their books, and I think to myself, ‘You guys! I can’t afford you!’

    But I sympathize. It’s also why I don’t send out a zillion emails promoting my work.

    It wasn’t that long ago that I discovered that all this blogging and networking doesn’t sell books. Actually, I’m convinced that it’s the non-fiction writers who started the rumour. How else did they get us to buy their books on networking?

    I live in a remote area of central BC and I’ve sold a respectful amount of books in my area because my book is in the bookstores, because I’m out promoting my work: reading on the radio, book signings etc.

    One night at a booksigning, one of my readers told me an interesting story. He was searching thru his home one day looking for that good book about a woman who sees a crime while she’s vacationing in Seattle. He searched high and low because the first chapter stuck in his mind and he was convinced he’d enjoy the rest of the story. Lo and behold, an hour of searching and he remembered he’d heard the first chapter on the radio; he didn’t actually own the book. Later that day, he went to the bookstore and bought a copy.

    I think networking is the slowest way of promoting myself, but it’s turning out to be a great place to promote others. Readers buy my book, check out my blog, “then” read about other writers. Just maybe they end up searching out one of these great reads and buying it.

    And so where does this leave me?

    With good Karma.

    At least that’s what I’m hoping.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joylene, I’m hoping for good Karma, too. Eventually, Karma comes back to us, doesn’t it? I also live in a remote area. Though probably not as remote as your area, we still only have one book store, no radio station, and a shopper newspaper. Which is why I promote online.

  3. knightofswords Says:

    I’m thinking of a headline like this: BERTRAM SELLS 1,000,000 COPIES OF GANGSTER/QUEST NOVEL AT EXXON STATIONS

    When non-readers sees something that interests them, like THE LOST SYMBOL, they can suddenly afford to buy books.

    The rest of the time, they’ll buy at $30 meal at OUTBACK before they’ll sample a $15 book at Barnes & Noble.

    Those of us who read all the time don’t have the money for a new steak or a new book.


    P.S. The Exxon stations along the route of Mary’s quest can tempt readers by giving away free beef jerky with each copy of the novel purchased.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I always want to point out to people that the $30 meal ends up in the sewer system or a septic tank, while a good book ends up enriching a person forever.

      I like your headline! I am visualing it. I am visualizing it . . .

  4. Sumner Wilson Says:

    Dear Pat:

    You are absolutely right. There are far too many writers, and too few readers. This will never work. Selling to other writers is of course the only possible option.

    Sumner Wilson

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Sumner, I hope you’re right about selling to writers, because most of the people I connect to are other writers. I like talking to writers — I always end up learning something new.

  5. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Good point. You’d think having two non-reader sons I’d’ve figured it out by now. But promoting to them would be impossible. They do read, but in very very narrow bands. Oh, and they don’t read DB, so maybe not such good examples after all.

    Is selling in Starbucks a way of promoting to non-readers? But how does one get to sell there?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Isn’t Starbucks closing a slew of stores? But your point is well-taken. I wonder if book vending machines in waiting rooms would work? I’ve seen ipod vending machines, so why not ones for book?

  6. Sumner Wilson Says:

    Dear Pat:

    Take along your hammer, and while you’re talking to them and learning from them, whack their fingers right smart. Perhaps this will force them to quit writing. Takes fingers to work a keyboard. This will leave more room for everyone else. Hope this works out for you.

    Go Cards. Oops. I guess I should have said, Rockies in your case.

    Slugs Nineteen

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