Saturday, July 3, 2010

E-Book vs. Printed Book--How do I sell this?

Having just published my first two e-books, I’m just starting to notice the difference in sales experience, and sales tactics. With published books, you have book signings, speeches and readings. People get a chance to “eye ball” the author. A little peek into your personal life and who you are. One thing every publisher knows—an author doesn’t just sell books. First they have to sell themselves.

So how do you sell yourself? You smile a lot. You’re open to questions, and in my case, with the exception perhaps of signing a series of books, I don’t sit down. Why, you ask? It’s ingrained into me that standing in the presence of my customers is a small show of respect. Ask any attorney in the courtroom why they stand when addressing the Judge. It’s an ingrained “old time” show of respect. Sort of like tipping your hat to the ladies, opening car doors for women or older men. Wearing the proper apparel to the funeral home or church. Respect. My customer is my future, and if they’re willing to shell out hard-earned cash to try my product then they deserve that small show of respect.

E-books are a very different animal, so to speak. You have no personal appearances. No chance to show respect to your customers, and the customer has no chance to “eye ball” the author. You’re totally dependent on your on-line persona. And building a successful on-line persona takes time, dedication and diligence. I find myself now spending several hours a day blogging, visiting other sites, posting reviews or releases, chatting with anyone and everyone who wants to chat and starting to build my on-line persona.

I did a little--COLD CALLING! My respect for cold calling telephone sale’s operators has truly gone up in the last few days. I still don’t like them calling me, which leaves me with a very specific problem. How do I sell books without becoming an obnoxious person? I’ve met some obnoxious authors, and grinned to myself as people would actually avoid that part of the bookstore. Go down another aisle just so they didn’t have to pass their table. That’s truly not me. If I have to be rude, crude and obnoxious in an attempt to sell a book—not going to happen.
So who am I? I’m an author. I write murder mysteries with a paranormal twist, and just a little romantic spice. When my first book was released a reader told me “It’s the best book I ever read.” I couldn’t help the thought that immediately popped into my head. “Gee, she must not read a lot.”

The Jacody Ives Mysteries are, in my humble opinion, really good books. I wanted to write a book that I would read. A book that I would buy. And with both, I set them aside for several months prior to coming back for a proof reading. I laughed at myself, because I got caught up in the story and forgot about proofing, but I realized one thing during that—I would buy these books. They aren’t the “best” books I’ve ever read, but as a reader I truly enjoyed them. I laughed. Cried, and found at times I just couldn’t put them down. Sure I knew the story. Knew the characters. But it had been months, and in some ways I still amazed even myself with the twists and turns and directions the characters took.

Oh, but back to who am I? Well, I smile a lot. Sometimes that takes a little work. Life can be stressful. I use meditation and self-hypnosis to keep me mentally, emotionally and physically fit. I teach metaphysical classes on mediation, self-hypnosis, dream analysis and colors for healing. I have two sons, and three beautiful grandchildren. Six if you count the two dogs and turtle, Murdock. Coby and I have been together for 11 years now, and every year has been better than the one before. I love people. I love life. I love reading and writing. As many of you know my first writing inspiration was “Old Yeller”. Why? Because it made me laugh and it made me cry. Real characters doing real things. Characters you could connect with and see through their eyes. That is the type of author I am aspiring to be. I feel I did that with both the Jacody Ives Mysteries, but there’s always room for improvement and I truly look forward to what my characters will do in the next one.

So why did I go e-book? For the last year I’ve been struggling with my feelings that books were priced entirely too high. Readers want to read. Authors want to write. We want to make a living, of course, and most of us will not totally realize that dream 100% for many years. I toyed with self-publishing in print, but with the economy down I knew I would be taking a real chance putting out a self-published book. And even the self-published prices for my book were higher than I would pay. I researched e-book sales, royalties and prices. And I liked what I saw. Readers are able to try a new author for less than a dollar. You can’t even try a new coffee at Star Bucks for less than a dollar. What a wonderful thing. So for me, at least in the current economic climate e-books made sense. Do I still want to publish a printed copy? Yes, I do. I have libraries that purchased my first book eagerly seeking the second. I have readers that I know don’t own an e-reader, nor do they want to. So by publishing only by e-book I’m not just losing sales, I’m letting down some of former readers. I’m still working on that. Perhaps in the new few months I’ll find a solution. But it will have to include a printed book at a decent price that’s compatible with best sellers.

So, that’s just a little about me. Within the next week I’ll have the first 2 to 3 chapters of The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery and Sacred Secrets, A Jacody Ives Mystery available for download. I’ve always wondered why we’re willing to give an agent and/or publisher 30 pages to read to decide if they want to take us on as clients, but we don’t do the same for potential customers. Aren’t our customers just as important if not more important? I believe they are. Therefore with all future books all my readers will have a chance not just to preview a few pages, but to actually see somewhere between 25 to 30 pages of the book. Give it a whirl before they shell out the cash to buy it. I’m currently working on revising and expanding my website to include these download pages, as well as downloads of mediation and self-hypnosis programs.

Have a safe and happy July 4th holiday.

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