Guest blogger William D. Hicks on generating e-book sales.
The only way to get noticed as a writer is to get read. But how? With a couple e-books out I decided to start promoting myself. I hired a PR company who booked a publicity blog tour. It’s the electronic equivalent of a multi-city book signing. While reviews and interviews and blog posts would likely get me noticed I wanted to generate sales. In my mind more sales = more readers.
I had recently noticed that my e-book sales to libraries were slow but steady. I wondered if I could ramp them up and asked my publisher how. He gave me several suggestions which I followed. I also figured out some short cuts along the way. And it worked. Over a three day period I got commitments from 5 libraries to buy 2 books each. While it’s not much money, I’m hopeful my e-book sales will spike from these efforts. Because it’s not really about the money; it’s about getting my stories read.
As a disclaimer, before doing all this work, be sure your publisher is authorized to sell e-books to libraries. This usually means they sell through Overdrive. If not, you probably should wait until they do before you put out the all this effort.
Write a “form” letter to the library. Use below as a template:
Dear (Sir/Madam/Librarian/Name of Person—especially if it’s the director or the email is directed at specific person),
Note something interesting about yourself, plus a request for the library to purchase your eBook. (Mention the state you’re from to libraries in your state, mention the state the book is set in to all the libraries with that connection, mention you’re an alumni to the college you attended, you get the idea. If there is no connection you might avoid specific state references.)
Genre, a little about the book
ISBN or other Identifying Number (e.g. ASIN-Amazon Standard Identification Number)
What Language it is written in
Price (especially if you know the price the library will pay, this isn’t necessary but it’s a nice to have)
Mention that your publisher is authorized to sell your books to libraries and they sell on “Overdrive” and any other e-tailers of note (e.g. Amazon).
Ask the librarian to contact you with a decision and thank them for reading your email (politeness goes a long way).
Yours (some ending),
Figure out which libraries you want to target. It’s often worthwhile to submit queries of this kind to all the libraries in your state, but first target those nearby as they will more likely pick up your e-book. When I suggested my suburban library should purchase my e-book and told them I was a resident, they instantly purchased a copy.
Check out the library’s URL. Before sending the email letter above, check out the library’s site. Some will have a “Purchase Suggestion” option, while others might have an “Ask a Librarian” link and others still might have a “Contact Us” section or “Email” address. You can use one of these more generic options or you can do some further digging and find information on the Library Director/CEO. If the email is directed to a specific person (e.g. the director), always personalize the salutation. Be aware that often the Director’s email address is not easily found and it’s best not to spend a lot of time searching for it.
Send the email and wait for a response. Not all libraries will buy your book. Sometimes you hear back from them weeks later; sometimes not at all. When a library buys an e-book, celebrate your win.
William D. Hicks is the author of novels Twist and Killer Flies.