How does an author

Sell That Book…

I’m not about being inside the box.  As amatter of fact when my second last book was released I took a look inside the box where the seals and sharks danced in a red pool of what is termed ‘market share and competition” and pushed the box as far back as it would go.  I looked up and said “You want me to dive in there? Are you nuts?”

However most of us that write and most of us that has been published and now carry the title of author think that in order to win as an author would mean sitting on the shelf of the large bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Chapters and Indigo.

They think that to have really made it would mean that the spine of the book created by their pain, laughter, tears, frustration and hard work would be finally sitting beside….oh, I don’t know, let’s say– another 80 thousand titles.

An average best seller sells about 6,000 copies in a three year term. (National Post, August 2006)  My second novel sold one hundred thousand copies in fourteen days and not one of them was on a traditional book shelf.  Not only did the books sell but the name of “Tilly Rivers” is recognized as one of the best writers in erotica.  World Wide! And that was just the beginning.

Not one book signing was at Barnes and Noble, not one book sold through Chapters.  I created my own market demand; I refused to have my book collect dust on a shelf with thousands upon thousands of its cousins, until people knew who I was, until I had a profile and a fan base, being In a bookstore would have been career suicide.

Now, you could say to yourself, sure, that might work for an erotica genre, but I write a different style of prose. Okay- let’s put it to the test, I will challenge that thinking process, how many erotica novels are there? Lets just say that compared to fiction writers, romance writers, children’s books and so on, the ‘other’ categories have fifty times the competition, fifty times more sharks in ‘market-share pond” for you the new- kid on the block-to try and swim through to make 6,000 sells- that’s your dream right? Not just to be an ‘author’ but to be a best-selling author. Do you know that on average, only 99 books from any giving author sell? 99- that’s not a lot! Those same bookstore chains order about 50 to 100 books, per store.

As a new author two things happen (1) your books are returned, and or (2) it is put on the clearance shelf—and that’s IF and a VERY BIG if- they are brought into the store in the first place.

I continue to encourage authors to think outside of the box. Some will listen, and some will get caught in the web of what the sharks feed them: “You need to jump in the box.”

Once you get your name out there, once people know who you are, you can put your book into the bookstore chains, as a matter of fact, when the day comes- they will ask you- not the other way around, but until then, think of ways to get known, get your book read and how you can make sells, like in independent book stores, and on-line. Think e-books, and don’t let any traditional publisher’s rejection letter get you down- if you KNOW your book is good- get out there and publish it yourself!

Before you know it, people will be asking for your book, they will say- hey do you have any books by Tilly Rivers? Know what just happened? You just created ‘market demand” way… way better than swimming with the sharks for “market share.”

You know, my mom always said I never learned to share…and I Never, ever play by the rules….

Tilly Rivers, Sell that book!


How Does An Author….

Dear Tilly;

I am a new author and I am considering a website, some are telling me to register my domain name under my book, others are saying to register under my name. Who’s right? And secondly, when do I start the website? And last should I have a blog as well? Which blog?

Thank you, Paul.


All good questions, so before I start answering, please note these are just opinions, my opinions, some will agree with me, some won’t. In the end, you should do what feels right for you. So Let’s get started…

1. Website domain name. I think that the first mistake new artists/authors make is that they register their domain name by book title (or name of their studio). I have said a million times, stop selling your book (art-etc.)- and start selling you. YOU are your brand. My website was it is no longer– as I am no longer writing erotica, but I still own the domain name in case I ever decide to use it again. I suppose if you plan on only ever writing one book, or a series of books -Harry Potter for example, than having a website domain as the title would be good, but even than you should have both- your name and the book title.  Think of your shopping habits. You know labels, you know names. Even “no name” is a brand- and people call it by brand.  From groceries to clothes- brand wins. You say ‘jeans’ not denim pants, you say Q-Tips not cotton swabs, you say Kleenex, not facial tissue, you say Stephen King not “The Dark Tower Series”- and if you do say ‘The Dark Tower’ series you add, written by Stephen King- or Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series. You say, I’m looking for art by Nick Rose, or,  Do you have “The Dark Fairy” by Nick Rose. BRAND first- always! You are your brand.

2.When do I start my website? NOW. There are hundreds of thousands of websites born each day to add to the hundreds of thousands all ready out there. You are not a needle among the haystack- you are a needle among the stack of needles. In a haystack at least you will stand out! You can read about tricks and tips to get you to the top of the web search- doesn’t hurt to try them- but here’s the truth- you need two things, 1. Time, getting traffic takes time- so what if in the beginning you only get a few hits a day?If it is a good website, people will come back AND they will tell their friends. 2. Money. If you have the money you can pay to have your website listed near the top of the pile, if you don’t have the money- no biggie- go back to point one- TIME. Do it now- if you are serious about your career- than get a website and start building your profile. An added bonus- by having that website- it makes it feel more ‘real’ and suddenly you are excited and more motivated.

3. Should you have a blog as well? In my opinion yes- this is the way I see blog verses website. A website is about professionalism, it gives you creditability that you are who you say you are. A website should be professional (without being overly stiff)- a blog on the other hand is ‘fun’ this is the place where you can be sociable, the reader can get to know you- your likes and dislikes- and they can ‘connect’ with you.  Using me as the example, while I don’t have the website I do still have the blog- you’re reading it now. I love to write- so I am writing. This is a blog of randomness- fits my personality to a ~T~…~giggles~ get it…T…as in Tilly.

4. Which blog? There are lots of good blogs out there, most are free, such as blogspot, livejournal and wordpress. My favourite is wordpress- but take a look at them all- and go for the one you like. NOTE: stay put! Once you have a blog up and running- stay there- one blog address- remember the needle in the pile of needles for the website? Blogs are even more popular now- especially considering they are free- so pick the blog you like wisely and stay there.  And have ONE- I made that error- had a zillion blogs going on- it is confusing and time-consuming to the reader- don’t do it- stick to one! There are lots of tips and tricks about making a great blog as well that you can read about- one thing all the experts seem to agree on is keeping the content going, some say to blog everyday- some say a few times a week.  If you ask me- like all things it should be about ‘quality’ write when you feel like it- write when you have time- and write when you have something interesting to say. If you write because you think you should- pressured- your quality of writing will suffer- thats not good for anyone.

There you go- my opinions, hope it helped.


how does an author…

Dear Tilly;

My question is how does an author (self-published- or small publisher) get the books sold to the book store in the first place?


Sell your book

Stop selling your book, and start selling you

What authors forget is that retailers have yearly budgets that they work with to purchase new products; they want to pick a title that is going to turn over rather quickly and not tie up their money with inventory sitting on the shelf. So they pick the titles that will ‘sell’ to the end buyer the reader from THOUSANDS of different publisher/distributors- and self-publishing authors.


For an Author 95% of the time your ‘client’ is not the reader; it is the retailer and the library. The reader is the end user. How do you plan on getting your book to the end user?

If your plan includes a bookstore (or any retail store) or library- YOU need to get the retailer to see that  YOU- not your book- is being followed- that people are asking for you by name.

Not convinced? Take a look at your own book-buying habits. How often do you go into the book store looking for your favorite AUTHOR? Do you research what has just been released by Author XYZ? STOP selling your book- and START selling you!

Have the confidence that your work will sell it self- and start working on selling YOU!

How? You as the author need to be visible and make your name your brand. Pretty much everyone knows who Stephen King is even if they have never read his stuff.

So, are people buying the title or the author?

Why would a retailer buy a book from an author they don’t know?  They wouldn’t!

Build your profile-GET THE WORD OUT.

  1. Go to other authors, and friends blogs and sign their guest book- and make comments. Your signature goes like this: AUTHOR XXXX, easy peasy self promotion that most miss. That way when I type in author XXX in the search bar- BOOM your name comes up all over the place! ESPECIALLY comment on blogs that are related to your books subject matter- or regarding your own hobbies/interests. For example, As an author, I love XXXXXX—blah blah blah- blah—but be sincere- people can spot a phony a hundred miles away! And don’t be a pompous ass- my book this- my book that- simply mention you are an author- and let your passion and personality speak for itself.
  2. Using social media? MORE isn’t always best! TARGET your audience. Know who is going to buy your book. Men from 19-25, Ladies from 30-45- be playful, fun and responsive. Let them get to know the man/woman behind the pen and build a relationship!
  3. NEVER turn down an opportunity for an interview no matter how small. If someone asks you to be a guest on blog talk radio—or an Ezine- or blog- the answer is YES, I’d love too! and more important ASK- approach magazines, large and small and say- hey- this is me- lets do an interview.

Once you build a following-

  1. Consider approaching retailers about commission sales.
  2. Become a local celebrity- get active in the community.
  3. Seek on-line book sellers (Amazon) as well as  traditional brick n mortar- and consider E-books.
  4. Sale direct off your website if you wish
  5. Ask your self-publisher how they can help market your book and if they have any retail connections
  6. Talk with independent book sellers, often they are willing to take on new authors
  7. Know your limits- REMEMBER you do not get paid upfront for a book order from a large chain, and they often order 5000 or more books, with the clause in the agreement that they can return 4999- if they so desire. If you can’t take that risk- DON’T even approach them.

NEVER give up. BE your BRAND!

Hope this helps!