Thanks to author and columnist Ken Burger for this guest post! Graphic courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
I’ve written and published three novels over the past five years and have learned one sure-fire, no-lie, absolute thing about marketing books. It ain’t easy.
I’m fortunate because I spent almost 30 years in the Charleston market writing a regular column for The Post and Courier. Having your name and face in a 100,000 circulation daily newspaper is certainly a plus when it comes to exposure.
And because I’ve done a lot of public speaking at Rotary, church groups and other civic clubs, I get a steady stream of invitations to speak, and therefore sell my books.
That said, whenever I’m at a book signing of any kind, I’m always approached by would-be authors who either have a desire to write a book or have a book they’d like to publish. I know how they feel because I was there not that long ago.
But here’s what I tell everybody who asks about book publishing: Once you’ve actually written a book, which 90 percent of the population can’t do; and once you have a publisher to publish your book, which 90 percent of those writers can’t do; you’re 20 percent done.
The other 80 percent of this business is marketing. And you’re the marketer.
Unless you’re Pat Conroy or some other million-selling author, you have to realize that those books don’t sell themselves. You’ve got to get out there and hustle for your book marketing by getting into small books stores, book clubs, civic organizations, almost anywhere you can draw a crowd of 10 or more people.
Small publishers like mine, Evening Post Books in Charleston, are wonderful venues for launching aspiring authors. But even they are limited in their marketing reach and basically depend upon the author to move the product.
Therefore, it helps to be an extrovert. You’ve got to be aggressive or else you end up with a warehouse full of books.
Remember, nobody loves your book like you do. And unless you can get up on your soap box and tell the world what it’s about and why they should read it, being an author can be very humbling and lonely experience.
Ken Burger spent almost 40 years writing for two South Carolina newspapers. While writing sports for The Post and Courier in Charleston, Burger won numerous statewide writing awards and was named one of the nation’s best sports columnists three times. Burger topped off his journalism career by writing a popular metro column for the Charleston paper before retiring in 2011. His first novel, Swallow Savannah, was published in 2008. His second novel, Sister Santee, came out in 2010. Both novels were touted as among the best in Southern fiction by the Independent Publishers Association. Salkehatchie Soup, the third novel in Ken Burger’s trilogy of South Carolina stories, was published in 2013. Ken entertains himself and others with a blog at kenburger.com.