The UPS store on the other side of the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge helps some Canadian authors save on shipping costs.

The UPS store on the other side of the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge helps some Canadian authors save on shipping costs.

If you want a successful book launch, stay organized while awaiting your order from the printer and getting ready to sell at events you’ve already arranged.  These tips may help you avoid the blunders and adopt the time- and money-saving techniques I acquired in past launches, as well as the one I’m doing at present.

  1. Learn how to add a sticker to improve the sales appeal of your front cover. Even if your book hasn’t won a gold-star award badge, it is legitimate to put a sticker on it to attract customers. After having stared at the cover of my proof copy for days, I saw that the lower third was bare and needed ‘oomph’. It is easy to learn how to do this and not too time-consuming if you just apply stickers on the number of copies you need as you go. I found that the local Staples stores sell colored or white labels of various shapes, sizes and finishes made by Avery. Never having done this before, I made all sorts of mistakes. I tried to cram too much text into each 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ label and wasted a lot of hours and stickers trying to center and control the layout inside six rows of three oval shapes on a sheet. In desperation, I turned to the Avery website. Believe it or not, they provide a free, blank template for download to use as a guide. From there on I was able to print my stickers out perfectly, ready to be put on my books.
  2. Now is the time to make sure you have a good supply of updated business cards on hand. You can also buy a packet of blank business cards, download a template to your computer and compose them by a method similar to the one used for sticker labels.
  3. Try to find out the precise ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how much’ of your book order delivery, or else pick it up. An author can lose money by having to pay a  heavy warehousing charge, for example, or missing a lucrative event because an order of books didn’t arrive. Get all the precise information you can over the phone in order to track your books, if they are coming a long distance, and be in the right place at the right time with the right payment method. A tip for Canadian authors (many of whom live an hour or two’s drive from the border and have their books printed in the United States) is to look at the UPS website for information on their $5 fee for a service that provides their depot as a U.S. delivery address for Canadian customers. Sometimes my printer, CreateSpace in Charleston, South Carolina, offers free shipping but only for books delivered within the continental U.S. My books always arrive promptly and we enjoy the scenic drive down to Ogdensburg, N.Y. to fetch them.
  4. Calculate what your total expense has been to produce your book and save your receipts. For me, this included $21 spent three times over to get successive proof copies from CS via the fastest mail; the cost of the 50 books I ordered, shipping, sales tax and UPS fee; and the cost of the stickers. I threw the receipts for more general business expenses such as lunch, mileage, business cards, computer paper and ink into my income tax file. You need to know what your books cost you so you can estimate such things as ‘What share of the money from each book sold can I to donate to the church or charity who is sponsoring my book launch?’ or ‘Does this book store retain too big a percentage or ask me to leave too many books on consignment?’
  5. Satisfy the Government’s legal-deposit  requirement to immediately provide two copies of your newly published book to the national library. You will then be listed in its catalog, available to distribution agencies, book stores and library branches wanting to locate or order copies of your book. In my case, this means dropping the copies off at Library & Archives Canada on Wellington Street, Ottawa. I talked by phone to Rachel in their office who remembered me from when I applied for my ISBN years ago. She said I should attach a note requesting my copies be brought  to her attention. She would post the Amicus cataloging information on the LAC website asap and from there I could unload it to the inside front cover page of my book, to appear in future print runs.
  6. Take copies around to the book stores and event sponsors who have invited you to sell and sign copies. The stores can start selling your book and put up a poster to advertise and stir up interest in your upcoming signing. Give your proof copy to the person who is sponsoring your book launch so she will be inspired to help promote it. Fulfill any other promises of advance copies you have made — in my case to a radio host who interviewed me when my paperback was published as an e-book and has now invited me back.
  7. Every day, update your calendar with the time, place, exact location, contact name, email address and phone number for all the events you are planning.
  8. Set goals for how many books you aim to sell within what period of time. You cannot make a person buy a book or predict how many events you will need to sell enough books to make your goal. What you can do is make a realistic estimate based on your past experience and that of author friends. Ask the book stores’ owners how many copies of their books other local local managed to sell in their shop on a certain day at a certain time.
  9. Enjoy being an author as you visualize and assemble what you will need to go public with your book. Ruminate in your mind on your sales themes (eg. war centennial, Christmas), your sales pitch, your book’s price at different locales, what  you will wear, your table’s covering, and conspicuous novelties to attract buyers to your table. It’s a great way to have fun meeting people!

Next blog post: How to accomplish live sales of real books

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, CreateSpace or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!