Sunday, February 28, 2021

Indie Authors : Sell your Books Face-to-Face

RJ Mirabal's New Children's Adventure Series

Last year, pre-pandemic, I was gearing up to arrange a book signing, school visits, and gather materials to sell my books in a booth at local events. At the same time, I was working on creating a viable platform that would introduce the world to MOI.

All that changed, of course, but we indie authors are forever optimists. I’m glad I had to wait. Now, another year smarter, I’ve come up with a much better plan than I ever could have had a year ago, one that I think will be attractive enough to interest local librarians, teachers and parents, and online readers.

Find your Platform: Explore your Deepest Desire

If you need to create a plan and a platform on how to present yourself as a tour-de-force author, here is an idea. Explore what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now, or a skill you’d like to develop; use it as your focus and expand on it.

My focus has turned out to be puppets—a project I pursued when my two daughters were very young, under five years old. My idea at the time stemmed from my elementary-teaching background. I wanted to enhance my children’s creativity. That, and being involved in my children’s lives, worked. My daughters, now in their 30s, are both very creative.

The reason this idea of focusing on puppets hadn’t occurred to me until now is because my first book project was a mystery/ghost series for 7-10-year-olds. Puppets never occurred to me as perhaps in the back of my mind I must have thought that children that age wouldn't be interested in puppets. Rather, I devised a way to present myself in the classroom and at libraries by doing a science experiment, which would illuminate part of the Secret in the Stars story. The ghost in the story appears to Abi Wunder in a cloud. I would create a cloud. I thought of other types of presentations I could come up with, such as a presentation about honey bees, which is a prominent subject in the story. However, I didn’t have much confidence that these ideas would be attractive enough for me to be invited into schools and libraries.

Enter the realization that the one project, the Abi Wunder mystery trilogy, needed more. More book projects. I looked through my files one day and found several stories suitable for possible picture books. Two of these stories have now turned into completed picture books, currently being illustrated, and planned to be published sometime this year.

Expanding into picture books turned out to be key. I have collected the puppet plays and materials I saved from those past puppet presentations, and am creating a plan to write puppet plays from my picture book stories, create the puppets and materials (without a stage, rather the plan is to keep the presentations simple), and make a short list of the first places I would present these puppet plays, with the hope that requests for more presentations would follow. Of course, the Abi Wunder series would become an integral part of these presentations, both in person and online.

Selling Books Face-to-Face, by RJ Mirabal

RJ Mirabal, an adult and children’s author, and member of our SCBWI chapter in New Mexico, gave a terrific presentation on the ins-and-outs of selling our books locally.

After publishing an adult fantasy trilogy, the Rio Grande Parallax Series, a finalist in the NM/AZ Book Awards, in the science fiction category, RJ burst onto the children’s literature scene with the award-winning first book in a series for children, Trixie Finds her People, a story based on his rescue dog. One of five finalists in The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, an international contest honoring independent and self-published books, Trixie Finds her People won first place in the Animal/Pets category; and the book was also a finalist in the New Mexico Press Women’s Writing awards, a regional contest. The next Trixie book will be coming out sometime this year.

RJ’s new children’s series, Dragon Train, is about a dragon who makes an unscheduled stop in a small village because this dragon towing a train is dying of exhaustion. A curious young farmer runs down to the tracks to help her, which sets the young man and dragon on an epic adventure to gain freedom and happiness. Learn more about Dragon Train and RJ’s other books: 

https://rjthestoryguy.com; adult books: https://rjmirabal.wordpress.com; and to order books: https://rjm-creative-arts.square.site/ 

 Open up for Business in your State 

To open for business in your state, there are certain things you need to do. Here are a few examples from RJ’s presentation:

  • Register your business with the state; you will have to pay gross receipts tax for your sales.
  • You may need to register in your town or city, which might require a business license. RJ registered in Albuquerque, NM. Cost: $35.
  • Register your business as a sole proprietorship; you don’t need to register as an LLC.
  • Report your income on personal tax forms.
  • Create a name for your business. RJ's is RJM Creative Arts.
  • Obtain a PO box, a good idea to use as your professional address.

Create your Display:

  • Purchase a portable table and tablecloth to match the mood of your books.
  • Decide how you want to display your books, author swag, a bowl of candy, etc.
  • Have a full-color poster (11 X 17 is an economical size that can be printed at Staples) made to use as a table display.
  • Have a banner made, a long sheet of plasticized paper, to match the banner on your website.
  • Have pictures from yours books, characters, book covers made to display.

RJ has graciously agreed to provide a PDF from his presentation for anyone interested. You can contact him at rjmcreativearts@gmail.com. Learn more about RJ’s children’s books: https://rjthestoryguy.com; adult books: https://rjmirabal.wordpress.com; and to order books: https://rjm-creative-arts.square.site/. To see an insightful interview with John Hoffsis at Treasure House Books & Gifts in Old Town, Albuquerque, NM, go tohttps://www.facebook.com/100003819340/videos/1288478417989098

Linda's younger daughter in a
puppet show at two years old
Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has two daughters, who inspired her stories when they were younger. Linda is the editor of the New Mexico Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators newsletter, and has written posts for the Writers on the Move blog since 2013. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Find out more by visiting Linda’s website at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

4 comments:

WiseOwlFactory said...

Great ideas! I especially like the display ideas. Very nice! Sharing on T, Fb, and Pinterest.

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, great tips on selling books face-to-face. And, good idea to create picture books to help with sales of all your books!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Talk about creative! It fits in so nicely with the advice I give in my flagship book in my #HowToDoItFrugally Series for writers. That is, reread you book with your marketing hat on to find new themes, topics, etc. After reading this I should have said, "Marketing and Creative hats." If I ever do a fourth edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, I'll ask you, Karen, for permission to publish this as a full section in the appendix. It is truly a trove of inspiration for ways to approach those places you can present in new and creative ways!
Hugs,
Carolyn

Terry Whalin said...

Linda,

What great insights and advice in this practical article for every book author. It is admittedly a challenge to write and create an excellent book (foundational) but selling that book is the larger challenge in my view with all of the volumes of things for our attention.

Terry

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