Perhaps the sweetest moment of an author’s life (aside from the second we hit “send” upon completion of our manuscript) is the day the very first copy of our book arrives. And that day, my friends, has come.
Though The New Camp Cookbook officially releases on July 1, 2017, we (the publisher and I) have received our initial copies to read through, hold tight, and squeal over. (The latter being mostly me, that is.) It’s surreal to see a project of this magnitude come to life in the form of a neatly bound 224-page hardcover, and while I had visions of how the book might turn out, I’m blown away by how utterly good it is now that I have it in my hands!
The printer, editors, and design team did a killer job, and the images that Will captured on our road trips all over the American West are incredible. The square shape and smooth, matte pages give the book a modern, artistic feel that I’m really loving. I am so excited for you to see it, and I hope you’ll preorder a copy (via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, or your favorite independent bookseller) so you’ll have it in time for your summer camping trips!
I’m often asked by my readers, “Are preorders really that important?” or “Doesn’t your publisher do all the work of promoting the book?” And my responses to those questions are, “Yes! Yes!” and “To a certain extent.”
You see, publishers use preorders to measure how much buzz a new title is getting and determine whether the author is deserving of another book deal. If a book has strong preorder sales before it’s even out, the media is more inclined to hype it up, and retailers are more willing to carry the title or give it premium placement. Not to mention, preordering the book means you reserve your copy ahead of time and are guaranteed delivery as soon as the books reach our vendors’ warehouses — sometimes even before the official release date.
As far as publishers’ involvement with promoting their books, they have in-house sales and marketing teams that handle all aspects of distribution across the normal sales channels. But when it comes to non-traditional outlets, like farmers’ markets, festivals, or that eclectic online boutique with a massive Instagram following, it’s usually up to the author to seek out, initiate, and/or coordinate the relationship.
A large part of the success of my first book, The CSA Cookbook, was the overwhelming support it received from all of my blog readers and social contacts. It’s tricky to market a niche title such as that one, and I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful community behind Garden Betty.
That’s why, as we approach the release of my second book, The New Camp Cookbook (only a month to go!), I hope you’ll rally with me and make it one of the summer’s must-cook cookbooks. To that end, here are a few easy ways you can support the book (or any book from an author you enjoy) with little effort, but big impact. Thank you so much for helping us get the word out!
1. Buy the author’s book.
An obvious point, of course, but one still worth mentioning. If you have the means, buying a brand-new copy of the book (instead of a used copy) makes the sale “count” in the publisher’s eyes and contributes to the author’s royalties. Preordering the book is even better, as the number of sales leading up to, and including, the first week of release is a big indicator of how well the book will do in the long run.
2. Buy the author’s book as a gift for others.
If there’s a birthday, holiday, graduation, or other important event coming up and you think a friend, family member, or colleague would enjoy the book, purchase it as a gift. Better yet, purchase a signed copy if possible, and never fret about finding a cool gift again. Even that one person who “already has everything” will take note when gifted with a book that’s been signed and personalized.
3. Ask a bookstore employee where the title is located.
Even if you know exactly where the book is, do not go and get it yourself. Walk up to a customer service desk or bookstore employee and ask him about the book. He’ll then look it up in the system and lead you to it. Or if the store doesn’t already stock the title, he can place an order for it, adding yet another retailer to the book’s sales outlets.
A bookstore employee once told me that if enough people ask about a book, the store begins to take notice and places more orders. If the title catches an employee’s eye, he may even put it in the “Employee Picks” section of the store, website, or newsletter, or recommend it to other customers who come in and ask, “What’s new on the shelf this month?” or “What’s a good book to give someone who likes X, Y, and Z?” Bookstore employees can be an author’s biggest advocate, so bring the book to their attention and help them help us, the authors, sell more books!
(Bonus points if you snap a photo of a book sighting in-store and share it on your social feeds. I love seeing where my books end up in the world!)
4. Turn the book face out at your local bookstore.
This is my personal favorite trick when visiting a new bookstore. If I see my book on the shelves but it’s sitting between other books with only the spine showing, I’ll face the cover out to gain more visibility. Rearranging even just one book to face out can catch potential customers’ eyes as they wander up and down the aisles.
5. Reserve a copy of the book at the library.
If you’re not able to buy a copy of the book, this is the next best thing you can do. Place a hold on the title or ask a librarian about it, just to draw attention to it. If every copy in the library system is reserved before the book is released, it’s often marked for more orders. Many libraries also have links on their sites for people to suggest the purchase of new books (usually in the “contact” section). For smaller libraries that lack the funds to buy books, consider donating a copy to help other readers discover the title.
6. Suggest the book to your favorite specialty retailer.
If you frequent a cafe, market, gym, or other retailer whose clientele may like the book, mention it to the manager, buyer, or owner, or pass the name of the retailer along to the author. My marketing team loves learning about small shops, regional chains, associations, and other outlets that aren’t a traditional bookstore, and we follow up with every suggestion sent to us.
7. Leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads.
I wrote a while back that reader reviews (particularly for cookbooks) are more important than one might think. After all, would you be more inclined to buy a book that has zero reviews, or one with several reviews from people who have actually read the book and tried a few recipes?
I personally rely on reviews to help me decide whether a book is worth clicking the “Add to Cart” button, and I especially like honest reviews from paying customers that aren’t merely a regurgitation of the press release or book synopsis. If you enjoy an author’s work and want to share it with the world, please try to leave a review on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads.
The first 10 to 20 reviews submitted during the week of the book’s release really do matter, and they go a long way toward future book sales and publicity.
8. Connect the author or the book with your personal circle of contacts.
There’s a saying, “It takes a village”… and that rings truest for authors who aren’t restaurant chefs and who don’t have the cachet of famous personalities like Michael Pollan or Ina Garten. If you’re able to leverage your network to propel an author, this is one of the biggest ways you can contribute to the success of the book.
If you’re part of a book club that would appreciate the book as their next selection, mention it. If your cousin is a book reviewer at a major media outlet, or you’re married to the brother of an assistant for a TV host, or your old college roommate founded an event that books authors for panels and signings, these are the types of connections that pave the way for an author to promote her book in venues she otherwise might not know about. Make an introduction, suggest the book to your contact, and tout its accolades or points of interest to show why it’s worth the person’s time.
In short, help the book get noticed, which helps the author sell more books. When it comes down to it, word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to set a book on the right path. Just tell people about it. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbors, your coworkers. Share the book on your social networks, and bring it along on your road trips. Put it on the dashboard of your RV. Leave it out at your campsite where other campers are likely to see it.
And come this summer, I hope you’ll share the recipes and the memories you’ve made in the great outdoors by tagging @gardenbetty in your social feeds!