The other day I posted Why I love Being an Indie and one of the things I mentioned was innovation. I handed over a cheque for a company’s United Way campaign for $140, related to my books. It’s an example of small innovation that you can do quickly as an indie author that can help us reach readers we wouldn’t otherwise reach.
From the Start
When my wife and I founded ADZO Publishing, we said we’d be giving 10% of our profits to a charity. We also knew it was going to take a couple of years before we’d break even, as we were willing invest and dare to make and learn from mistakes.
When I launched my first book back in April at CalgaryExpo, I committed to giving $1 per book sold, plus $1 for small artistic prints and $5 for large ones (a few prints sold) to the Kids Cancer Care charity. I was able to contribute to their cause with a cheque for $123.
My motivation was simple, I was looking for a win-win. If I could raise funds and awareness for a charity, and have them promote me which in turn helps them, everyone would win. Unfortunately CalgaryExpo happened too quickly for their processes, but I went through with promoting them and learned a bunch, including that doing such a thing is a great idea, but it ultimately reduces sales. Best to just give a cut to charity quietly. It was one of the first lessons of brand (but Adam, why are you doing the Be Klaus campaign? Shh that’s later).
In September, when I launched the current cover for book 1 (that photo shows the original cover, it feels like a million years ago) and released book 2, I thought a lot about can I extend my reach and keep the momentum going. It became harder and harder, and things were only just starting to click for me on Twitter.
I came up with ideas, I met with people, and I sold a book here, 2 books there, and kept things moving. I learned from the experiences, and worked on what I could following the launch of book 2, which included hiring a small publicist for a bit.
My mindset has been the more people that I get to read book 1, the more that will likely read book 2, and thus the more that will likely read the rest of the series. There’s a compounding return, so thinking long term is the name of the game.
United Innovation Way
In October, when I was at my client (I’m an IT consultant) and they started talking about their United Way campaign that they do every year, I had an idea.
I asked two people what they thought about me offering my 2 books for $25 (retail is $12.99 + $14.99) and giving $10 for every bundle purchased to the campaign. I was told by those two people not to bother. I thought about dropping it, and then decided that I’d write an email to the head of the campaign because that’s the type of person I am. He loved it. I got some posters made (simple ones, just cost effort and some begging) and out of a company of about 120 people, I sold fourteen book bundles. Today I handed over the cheque for $140 towards their corporate goal.
Did I make any money from that? HAHAHAHA… oh *wipes tear from eye* that always makes me laugh. That wasn’t the point, it was about reaching people that I wouldn’t otherwise. They not only bought the books, but they wanted to hear about them, some of them looked at the books and said “I think I’ll sneak a read of these before I give them away.” Hopefully now I’ve seeded some more interest in the rest of the series.
If I’d had a publisher, even a small press publisher, I likely wouldn’t have been able to do this. I came up with the idea, I ran with it, I did the leg work and I had no legal or contracts people to discuss anything with, it was just me (and my wife, I always tell her about my crazy ideas). I was able to be quick and agile.
There are a lot of ways to help other people and increase your reach at the same time. If you look at being an author-preneur from a long term perspective, the investment you make today will return double what you do later and you can do some social good.
One of the things that I’m also doing is donating 20 copies of each book to my local Children’s Hospital, as well as offered to do a reading. If I can help the kids who are in there for a longer stay have a better time of it? Huge win. If my kids one day are there, I’d hope that someone was doing the same thing. If I create some peripheral interest or awareness of The Yellow Hoods and my author brand, then great, that’s an extra win.
Right now, I have my #BeKlaus campaign going on, find out about it. Yes, I decided to associate my book selling to a cause, this time being the Calgary Food Bank. Yes, I remember the lessons from April where typing my brand to a charity reduced, not increased sales, but I had a couple of assumptions I wanted to try out. I’m not afraid of not meeting my stretch goal and having people know about it. One of the things about thinking of yourself like a High-Tech Startup, is that you have to be willing to outrun your mistakes.