Open Wounds

From Ship Breaker to the Lightning Thief

I spent a few hours yesterday writing follow-up emails to all the store owners and booksellers I met on the road trip. There were about a dozen from that many indi bookstores. So here’s what I’ve figured out about this whole marketing thing. If I’m going to sell my books I have to reach four different groups.

The first group is readers. I have to let potential readers know about my book, that it exists. The internet is a wonderful tool for this as are bookstores. You would think reaching all the people who are potential readers would be easy but… it’s not. You have to get their attention and give them a reason to look at and buy your book as opposed to the hundreds of others staring at them in the bookstore or on the online page. Which brings us to group number two.

The second group is booksellers. They can be in bookstores or they can be on the internet. But the internet acts as a bookseller all by itself only it’s harder to figure out. On Amazon there are sections like, “People who bought this book also bought the following…” This is cool because I can see that people who bought my book also bought Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, and once but only once, Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief. But how does this play out for new people finding my book? Hopefully I’m showing up on other book’s lists. Still, it’s not like you’re in a store and ask a bookseller what they read lately and like or if they can recommend a book for boys, or a new historical novel, or a book with sword fights and suspense with a touch, just a touch of family drama. Which is why as cool and helpful as the internet is, reaching bricks and mortar stores and developing relationships with bookstore owners and sellers is so important. It’s slower, but it builds over time. So far I’ve been to 23 stores (seventeen of which are independent bookstores), in nine states, and I’m just getting to my hometown, NYC this month.

As they say, people can’t buy your book if they can’t find it. It’s available over the internet, yes. But in bookstores… I’m working on that one store at a time.

Discussion of the third group, the business (agents, publishers, film, audio, and all the possible buyers of subsidiary rights) people, and fourth group, reviewers, tomorrow.

2 responses

  1. Awareness.


    They’re different ideas, but ultimately I think these two things matter the most when it comes to selling books.

    I also want to talk to you about your blog, Joe. I don’t think you’re reaching the audience you need to. I’ve got more, but we can talk about that in another forum.

    This is my problem: Open Wounds is a fucking incredible book. I consider it in the top 3 of books I’ve read in the lat 3-5 years, but I don’t think enough people are aware of it. I’ve promoted it online where I can, but I honestly think you, personally need a better web presence than what you have.

    Let’s talk.

    September 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    • I know you’re right and not just because my wife says the same thing. I’m up for ideas. What’s the best way to discuss?

      September 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm

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