Monday, May 26, 2014

The week you all became booksellers

A couple weeks ago, I got some great news about my new romantic comedy Frisky Business: The book has one of the widest distributions of any book I've ever published, with copies stocked at WalMart, Barnes & Noble, Fred Meyer, Meijer, and a variety of independent bookstores around the country and in Canada. Amazing, right?

Then I got some not-so-great news from my editor.

The sell-through for the first week wasn't so hot. Less than 20%, to be exact. There were tons of copies out there, but they weren't flying off the shelves and into people's shopping carts.

I kept that news to myself, content to tuck my tail between my legs while crossing my fingers for luck (a feat of dexterity, if I do say so myself).

But then something happened.

It started with a few Facebook and Twitter friends sharing pictures of my book in the wild. Since I adore seeing these kinds of photos, I gathered a few of my favorites and made this little collage in Photoshop:

Click to make it bigger and see all the cool locations people found Frisky Business.

That led to more readers sharing photos of Frisky Business. Apparently, the book is quite popular with pets:

One reader shared her plans to take Frisky Business with her on vacation to Greece and Italy. She's been sharing photos of the book at major landmarks along the way:

Frisky Business goes on vacation in Greece and Italy with one fabulous reader.

Then the photos really started to pour in:

Indiana, PA (WalMart)
Portland, OR (Fred Meyer)
Bastrop, TX (WalMart)

Cape Coral, FL (WalMart)

Chicago, IL (Meijer)
Northern KY (WalMart)
Rogers, AR (WalMart)
I offered to mail a handful of signed bookmarks to anyone willing to stuff a few inside the copies they spotted at their local stores. A number of readers took me up on it:

Saginaw, MI (Barnes & Noble)
stuffed with signed bookmarks.

Other readers got creative with sticky notes:

Hays, KS (WalMart)

Now here's where things get interesting. The more photos people shared, the more I started to see messages like this one:

So if readers were snagging last copies, that had to mean other copies had sold, right?

I checked my Author Central account at Amazon, which gives me a very, very fuzzy look at sales numbers. Sure enough, Frisky Business sold more copies in its second week than it did in the first.

But how? Surely a handful of Facebook and Twitter pals weren't moving the needle that much, were they?

Well, maybe. Here's how:

Besides the fact that this Facebook pal prompted a total stranger to buy my book, I love that the comment thread here connected two readers who didn't previously know each other, but realized they lived near one another. They proceeded to have a lengthy comment exchange about where to find my book in their local area.

So Facebook friends taking pictures of my book at their local stores were prompting bystanders to buy the book? Not only that, but total strangers were forging connections with one another over social media and helping each other to locate and purchase my book?

I wish I could say this whole thing was some brilliant marketing scheme I came up with based on calculated data and savvy strategy. It wasn't. But it wasn't dumb luck, either.

It was friendship, pure and simple. It was the joy of making genuine, honest-to-goodness connections with people on social media and the resultant urge to support someone who's become a friend.

When people ask me if authors should bother with social media, this is what I'm talking about when I grab them by the lapels, give them a hard shake, and cry "Good God, yes!"

This is how it's supposed to work, guys. Not authors screeching "buy my book!" or "like my page!" from their social media soapboxes. Just friends helping friends and supporting authors they've gotten to know.

On that note, I'd love to see more photos of Frisky Business in the wild and hear any stories you can share about prompting friends or strangers to give the book a try. Please share!

And thank you, friends. I really mean that. You guys rock.


Anonymous said...

Yeah! It's about sharing books we like, not screaming at people to buy our books. Congrats on your sales success!

Jessi said...

100% agree! Social media SHOULD be about relationships. Not only are you "doing social media" right, you're teaching others how to do so. Congratulations on your success -- it is well-deserved!

Jennifer said...

Congrats on the sales! I have a lot of fun going out "in the wild" and taking pictures like this. It's always awesome to know it's helping awesome people sell awesome books. :)

Pam said...

That is awesome! Congratulations. I keep meaning to snap some pics.

A Novel Creation said...

Very cool. Now to translate that to those of us who don't have books in brick and mortar places.

Linda G. said...

Oh, my gosh! This is SO COOL! :D

Diana McCollum said...

Very informative blog. How great to see your book in pictures from all over the country!!

Deborah Blake said...

Er....I could take a picture of my Kindle with the book on it :-)

I'm so glad things turned around. Online friends and readers are great, aren't they?

Maurie said...

Hi, Tawna. After reading this post, I thought you might enjoy hearing how I found out about your book. I had posted something on facebook with the hashtag inbend and then went to see if it had showed up under the hashtag listings. It had and the next thing was something you posted about seeing your book in the local bookstore. I'm always looking for more books, so I thought, what the heck, and checked to see if the library had it - they did - and I got very little sleep or much else done for the next day or so as I plowed through Frisky Buisiness, laughing my ass off all along the way. I have great love for any author who can make me laugh that much! Your humor is great! So, now I'm hooked. I checked out Making Waves next and enjoyed it a ton as well. Your books make me laugh enough to be on my shelf for rereads, so I'll be looking for my own copies soon. Keep writing, funny lady!