I spent 3 hours at the Brooklyn Book Festival yesterday, and while the networking was better than the sales, it was still a trip worthwhile. It's always interesting to talk to fellow writers (and readers!), and I thought I'd share a few insights I gained in the process.......
1. Authors have to do most of their own PR. Yes, even the best-selling ones. If you think your publisher will do all the legwork for you, think again. The more you can promote yourself, the better your sales will probably be.
2. Readers generally won't turn down a free bookmark. Make sure your author info (at the very least, your website) is clearly written on it.
3. Readers love getting anything for free, and that includes excerpt booklets (one of my favorite marketing devices) and magnets.
4. Do your research into publishers before you submit to them. Small presses have both advantages (they'll know you personally, some of them are roaring in the industry right now, they love the ebook industry) and disadvantages (lower sales, the potential to fold amid the competition).
5. An agent does not = sales. I spoke to 2 authors yesterday who both had signed with their agents over 2 years ago. One had 1 sale, to a small press that doesn't require an agent for submission. The other hadn't sold yet.
6. The best place to sell your books is through your publisher's website (if this is an option). Selling through Amazon or other 3rd-party distributors reduces your royalties.
7. Giving away free reads can be a good marketing technique, but don't overdo it. Don't give away EVERYTHING you write. You worked hard on it! Sell it!
8. Many people still won't admit to reading or liking romance. Or, they aren't really familiar with what romance is, and they're surprised to learn that some of their favorite suspense/comedy/etc authors are filed under "romance."
9. Bring along a tablecloth, pens and duct tape whenever you go to a signing. I've always used all 3 no matter what.
10. Be nice. It's amazing how far a smile and some good conversation can take you. No matter if you don't get a sale that moment, that day. You never know what might transpire down the road...