Two years ago my first book came out. It was not the first book I had planned, but a story I wrote for my daughter. I met a small publisher at a conference who was looking for YA books so I thought, why not?
The book came out in July 2010 and by March 2011 I had my rights back and was on the lookout for a new publisher. That’s another whole story I won’t get into. Suffice to say that the book is republished now and in better form, new title, new cover, new content. But while I was pushing The Man Of Mystery Hill I spent a crazy amount of money on marketing. And really, none of it made me a cent.
I’d like to share some of my “great marketing ideas” with you, so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
First, there was the url. I already had a bunch of domain names but decided I needed http://www.abbymcnabb.com. This would point to a new page in my already cumbersome website. I have since shut off the auto renew on the domain but I’m stuck with it for a while. Not a lot of money but it started the tally.
Next came the new business cards. I put the new web address on there, a picture of me and a cover of the book. Now that I’ve changed everything, the cards are useless. Vista print doesn’t charge a lot luckily. I bought some postcards of the book cover. Also useless. Then there were the large posters bonded to white boards that cost way more than they should have, but I was excited. This was my first book after all.
I paid for ad space in print magazines, split with the publisher. I don’t think there was much benefit to that. Next came the tattoos. That’s right, tattoos containing the book cover. And honestly, what’s more fun than 5000 tattoos? I’ll tell you what, the $175 I paid for them to now sit in a drawer. Up goes the tally.
This book originally starred a 4th grade girl. In the new version she’s in 6th grade. I thought on it and decided that Mood pencils would be super fun. Especially if I had 500 of them. Honestly, what’s more enthralling than 500 mood pencils that change color in your hands and sport the abbymcnabb url? The money I blew on them, that’s what. And up goes the tally again.
But I was still so eager to sell this book. I was booking signings for at least once a week, sometimes two. I was going to make a ton of money and all the cash I was putting out for giveaways would come back to me (foolish girl).
I think the bears were the last straw. I got it in my head that if I bought little bears wearing t-shirts with my book cover on them, that would be about the best thing ever. And honestly, they are adorable. When I opened the box of 100 of them (after shelling out about $375) I was thrilled. I gave away about half to get people to buy my books at events. Of course my royalty was way less than what I spent on bears. What was I thinking? Now they are in a bag. Buying new t-shirts with the new cover will cost as much as new bears and I’m kind of all set with mini plushies.
The new version came out in November 2011 and I’m very pleased with it. This time, I’m going free and low-cost marketing. The jury is out on how successful that is but at least I learned from my mistakes. I hope you can learn from my mistakes too.