My first book, Tracking Giants, came out last Tuesday. It’s a travel memoir about looking for the biggest trees in BC. I work as an editor and publishing strategist, and here’s how I ensured my book would be a success.
DEFINE SUCCESS: My book became a BC bestseller a week before on-sale, and a #1 Amazon bestseller at on-sale. Being a bestseller might be your hallmark of success but it wasn’t mine. What’s most important here is that it was a regional bestseller, and continues to be. I wrote a note to Pacific Northwest booksellers to thank them for carrying the book. This book has the potential to sell in the PNW for years, which will mean many more book sales than a one-week blip.
BRING READERS ALONG ON YOUR JOURNEY: I started my tree-tracking project in 2018, and I’ve been sharing photos and stories since then. Readers want to root for you and follow your book-writing journey. Now readers are sharing photos of themselves with my book, and I’m posting them all on my social. It’s one book community. How will you promote at each stage of your book journey—before, during, and after on-sale?
MEET PEOPLE WHERE THEY’RE AT: My audience is located mostly on the West Coast. The tricky thing about the coast is that readers are based on the Gulf Islands (where I live), on Vancouver Island, and in Vancouver (the mainland). So I’m having three launches in three places. I want to celebrate with my readers and thank them in person, plus staggering launches boosts the chances of hitting the bestseller list multiple weeks in a row.
GIVE PEOPLE OPTIONS: Some authors encourage readers to buy only from independents, or only from Amazon. There’s a reason for each, but I think people can make their own minds up and vote with their dollars. It’s all sales. On my book page I include links for multiple retailers.
OFFER INCENTIVES: Some authors love preorder incentives, like a free workbook. I prefer to save physical swag for the launches. I’m giving away seeds I harvested, and cover-themed stickers my friend designed for me. This approach works for me and my audience, and I avoid the hassle of mail-outs. So what if I don’t build my list? That’s not my goal at this stage.
SHARE BLURBS: I had the fortune of excellent blurbs (advance praise from influential authors). I shared a new one every week on social and used the opportunity to thank the blurber, and tell a bit more about the book. I also sent each blurber a finished copy of my book and a handwritten thank-you note.
REACH OUT TO RELEVANT GROUPS: Bulk sales matter, but for my book it made sense to reach out to local trails groups. I’ve lined up a few “talk and walks” to promote the book and spend time with readers in the woods.
HAVE PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT: Shoutout to my marketing and publicity team at Greystone! They’ve secured placement in bookstores, and with reviewers and media.