The 2017 Book Festival season has begun, and I'm anticipating having a fabulous time meeting readers and authors at each of the festivals where I'll be showcasing my books. You can see a list of all the festivals Drake and I will be attending on our Festival Pre-Order Page.
Which brings me to the meat of this post... I'm confounded by the methodology that most authors are using to promote these events and their participation. I'm a member of each of the festival Facebook pages that I'll be attending, and I try to investigate each of the authors as they promote their work... I'm interested in learning more about who they are and what they write. And, as an avid reader, as most authors are (or should be), I'm also interested in the prospect of pre-ordering some of the books that interest me most. However, I'm running into a problem...
Although most authors have indeed created book pre-order forms, they are tremendously un-helpful. When I click on a form, I see a list of books and pricing, but rarely do I see cover images, or synopses, or a link to the author's website where I can learn more, or a link to join a newsletter to discover when a particular author has a new book coming out. It's frustrating. I want to support my fellow authors in their craft, but I don't feel comfortable blindly ordering books when I have no idea about the genre, characters, or the story line. How can I possibly know if I'll be interested in reading a book if I know nothing about it?
I'm frustrated with the fact that so many authors don't have websites. As we all should clearly understand, marketing and promotion are vitally important when trying to reach readers and sell books. A Facebook page might be an easy thing to create, and it's great for exposure (dare I say "required"), but it's not a dedicated space where a new reader can truly learn about an author and their work. I'm confused about why so many authors aren't building their platforms and making it easier for readers to find them, enjoy learning about their writing practice, and their books. It boggles the brain!
Take this frustration one step further... in my view, book pre-order forms are tools to capture "impulse buy" opportunities with new readers (customers). So why would an author make it more difficult and cumbersome for a new reader to pay for a pre-ordered book, by sending them a separate PayPal invoice after the order is made, rather than allowing the reader (customer) to pay immediately when they make their selection? I don't know about you, but if I'm ordering books from an author who's new to me, I may not remember their name. If I receive a PayPal invoice from someone who is not familiar to me, chances are that I won't remember why I made that order - or, indeed, if it's even a legitimate invoice. It could be spam! Why would authors take this risk of not actually selling books by delaying the payment process? It confuses me. It seems like a poor business strategy.
I understand that using Google Docs is a convenient way to set up a book pre-order form... but I would encourage authors to take a look at the results. Are you receiving pre-orders from new readers - people who have no idea who you are? Or are you simply receiving pre-orders from those readers who are already familiar with your work... friends, co-workers, family members? Take a look at the metrics, and evaluate whether or not the convenience of not telling authors about your books or, at the very least, showing them a cover image, is rewarding you with pre-orders. My guess is, probably not.
Websites are not that difficult to create. With today's "drop & drag" interfaces, nearly anyone who has a few hours of spare time and a modicum of creativity can create a nice website using Wix or Weebly. It's not hard, and it's not expensive. Also, connecting your website with product pages where you can accept credit/debit cards AS WELL AS PayPal, is super-simple and an easy way to collect money. A spreadsheet of your sales for each book is provided by the website interface, can be exported to an Excel sheet for your accounting and inventory purposes, and if you use an interface like Square to collect funds, the money is deposited in your bank account the next day. It really couldn't be more simple!
Here's the real kicker: If you have a website, you make it easier for me to recommend you to my friends, and as you well know, referrals are worth their weight in books!
In today's market, it's important to reach out to readers with all the armament you can muster. Readers who can easily learn about your books and pay for them near-instantly, will grow to become fans, and they'll tell their friends... and isn't that what we all want?
I know that many authors have day jobs - myself included - yet if anyone needs help in building a website and connecting payment strategies, I can help. You can learn more about website and other marketing services at Write Duck Press. The services listed there can be purchased individually, or as a package, for extremely reasonable prices. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to zap me an email at Diana@DKPWriter.com. My goal is to assist writers in becoming more successful.
The more we help each other, the more our community grows and the more we can all enjoy the fruits of our creativity!
Diana Kathryn Plopa
I love being in love; writing; reading; mammals of nearly every kind, and especially micro-humans! Come enjoy my world with me - Secret Decoder Ring not required!!