Self-Publishing With Tom Wood

So, you’ve published a book? Now, the real hurdle is getting it to your readers. This is an extremely difficult task—especially for self-published writers—and dooms a good many. Author Tom Wood shares his own methods to distribute his novel, Vendetta Stone.

Finding Your Audience: Festivals, Events, Book Signings

By Tom Wood

Over and over, an old media axiom was reinforced during several workshops at the recent Film-Com event in Nashville.

“If Content is King, then Distribution is King Kong.”

For self-published authors, truer words were never spoken.

Or harder to achieve.

Writing your book is just the first baby-step in this process. Distribution of your novel is everything.

On one hand, distribution is easier than ever, thanks to the Internet. I self-published through CreateSpace, and get worldwide distribution through Amazon and Kindle.

My book, Vendetta Stone, sells very well in Europe and I have registered sales in Australia and many other countries outside the U.S.

On the other hand, I have trouble getting my fictional true-crime thriller in chain bookstores and even some independent bookstores. The latter especially bothers me.

I understand how indie storeowners would consider Amazon the enemy, but not carrying my book isn’t hurting Amazon. It’s hurting me—and, potentially, readers who might enjoy my book.

Some chain bookstores won’t carry Vendetta Stone on the shelves, but it is available for order on their website or at a store.

So distribution can be a tricky puzzle to solve.

Via www.123RF.com
Book Festival, Via www.123RF.com

A grass roots approach seems to work, at least it does for me.

I do as much promotion as possible, arranging events and interviews, festivals and libraries, speaking engagements, etc. My motto is: Never turn down an opportunity.

When Vendetta Stone first came out in late 2013, John Seigenthaler, my former boss at The Tennessean, invited me to tape a segment for his long-running talk show with authors. It aired in late July 2014, just a few days after his death at age 86.

After the taping, John and I discussed marketing strategies. When I told him I didn’t want to be seen as too pushy, he smiled and offered two words of advice that have stuck with me. “Be pushy,” was all he said.

And that is about the best advice I have to offer—be pushy (but in a kinder, gentler way).

You are going to have to network to find some of those opportunities, keeping your eyes open for any prospect. One author I know announced that she would be appearing at the prestigious 2014 Dahlonega Literary Festival. I made a couple of calls, looked at the event’s website, sent a few emails—now I will be at the 2016 Dahlonega Literary Festival in March.

So, finding lists of major book events in your region is one key. Reach out to your local and state libraries for contact lists. Scan the local newspapers for lists of upcoming events that don’t have a thing to do with books. They publish those lists sometimes months in advance or have a website with that information readily available. They might even provide you with a list, or at least point you in the right direction.

Festivals and fairs are always looking for vendors to hawk their products. And if you’re an author, your books are your products. Go to FestivalNet.com for an idea of what’s out there. It will blow your mind just how many different events are listed in your area.

It’s like this: when you are writing, you are creating worlds, spinning yarns and living the dream. When you are promoting, you are a salesman, and you have one product to sell. Well, two. Besides the book, you are selling yourself (but not your soul) as someone to whom an audience should pay attention. It takes a lot of confidence, and a little brass. But if you don’t do it, who will?

Our Authors Circle group annually has several members at events in Franklin, Tennessee, such as the Main Street Festival in the spring, and Dickens of a Christmas in early December. We are right out there with all the food vendors, the candlestick makers, the jewelry sellers, and everyone else. Books make great Christmas gifts, right?

For speaking engagements which may lead to sales opportunities, contact the Rotary Club, the Lions and any other civic groups you can think of, especially those which have something to do with your particular genre. Think outside the box—and the books!

Here’s a final suggestion: always carry a few bookmarks to distribute wherever you are. If I see someone reading a book at the airport or a coffee shop, I’ll politely interrupt and offer them a bookmark with a picture of my book cover, a teaser, and information on how they can order a copy.

Maybe someday they’ll look at it and decide it intrigues them enough to buy.

That’s old-school distribution: one reader at a time.

Tom WoodA veteran sports writer and copy editor, Tom Wood has covered a variety of events ranging from the Iroquois Memorial Steeplechase to the Atlanta Olympic Games for The Tennessean in Nashville. After retirement, he continues his passion for writing, contributing to the Civil War-based anthology, Filtered Through Time and conducting an interview with Stephen King for Feast of Fear: Conversations with Stephen King. In the last year, Tom has begun writing Western fiction short stories, two of which have been published by Western Trail Blazer. “Tennesseans West” is his next project with four other authors involved. He is also an actor and can be seen in several episodes of the ABC series “Nashville”. He also coordinates the Killer Nashville guest blog seriesVendetta Stone is his first novel and he is working on the sequel.

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