I had the opportunity to talk to Hannah Stone, the self-published author of two books on pregnancy loss, Forever Our Angels and Remembering Our Angels, about marketing her books. Hannah's insights give you a look not only into promoting self-published books, but also how to market to a narrower niche audience and how to build interest and confidence in your work before your book is even written.
Both of your books are self-published. What influenced you in deciding to go the self-published route? What kind of marketing challenges do you feel you face as a self-published author? I decided to go the self-publishing route after spending months (and rolls of stamps!) on trying to find a "traditional" publisher. I tried finding an agent to represent me and I had a few close calls.
I wouldn't say that I have faced challenges in marketing my self-published books. I think that all authors have to do some degree of marketing their work, whether they are self-published or not. I am fortunate in that I have a great deal of experience in marketing and I have enjoyed every second of making the contacts I have made in marketing my works. I've found marketing resources that I don't think I would have necessarily had, had I been signed on with a "traditional" publisher with a marketing department.
On top of challenges of not being backed by a publisher, your books are also in a very specific and sensitive niche of pregnancy loss. Given the nature of the niche, I don't see traditional aggressive marketing with a hard-sell approach as being a viable option. Have you found the opposite to be true? How have you been able to reach your market most effectively?
I definitely reached the market for books on pregnancy loss. I took a great deal of time in finding obstetricians who endorsed my books, labor and delivery unit heads at hospitals all over the country, pregnancy loss and stillbirth support groups and most important, grieving parents facing pregnancy loss. I sent copies of the books (at my own expense) out to reviewers, newspaper editors and founders of support groups because it was important that they invest in these books from a personal and professional aspect.
Your books are collections of personal stories from individuals who have lost pregnancies. Even before writing your books, how did you reach out to that audience and promote the concept in a way that made them feel comfortable sharing those stories with you?
I posted a request on various online pregnancy loss forums, asking for men and women to share their personal stories of pregnancy loss. In the request, I confided that I was a three-time survivor of pregnancy loss and I was looking to publish a book that would be like no other -- simply, a collection of first-person stories of pregnancy loss.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone who responded to me, shared my sentiment that there needs to be a resource for grieving parents that sends the message that no one should feel alone in a time of loss. From the very beginning, my goal in writing the two books was to reach out to grieving parents and provide them with a resource that I didn't have when I went through my own losses.
When I suffered my first pregnancy loss back in 1994, I wanted and needed a book where I could read the stories of other men and women who had been in my shoes. Since I couldn't find a book like that on the market, I decided to take matters into my own hands and write the book myself.
Do you handle all of the marketing and publicity for your books independently, or do you consult with professionals to help and guide you?
I've done all of the marketing and publicity for the books myself. I am constantly thinking of more resources to help me spread the word about the books but I am very pleased with the exposure I have received so far. I've been invited to write and speak on topics of pregnancy loss for publications, conferences and online workshops.
Do you have a favorite marketing or promotional tactic for marketing your books? Is there something marketing-wise that you really don't like to do but work through anyway because it's effective?
Google has become my best friend in marketing my books. I have been able to find countless resources that were otherwise unknown to me. For example, I can google online gift shops and I find pages upon pages of gift shops that I can contact about selling my book at a wholesale cost. Obviously, not everyone responds to my emails that explain who I am and what my books are about. Still, I have found hundreds of resources through Googling.
I can't say that I don't like doing this but I realized the necessity in offering support groups and hospitals a wholesale cost to order the books. The financial royalties may not be the same but getting the book out there and reaching out to grieving parents facing pregnancy loss is far more rewarding.
Do you have any favorite book marketing resources that you think would be useful to other authors, self-published or otherwise?
Myspace is a wonderful way to market books, whether they be self-published or not. There are groups there for self-published authors but also groups that are geared for the specific genre you write about. I found several pregnancy loss and stillbirth support group, just on myspace, where I have been able to reach out to grieving parents and listen to their heartbreaking stories and share mine with them.
I have been so fortunate to have met (online) so many grieving parents who appreciate the work that I have done. In that respect, it really isn't about "selling" the book. Granted, I have sold copies through meeting people online but myspace has allowed me to touch the lives of people that I wouldn't necessarily meet.
You can find out more about Hannah Stone and her two books on pregnancy loss at her website.