How a Self-Published Book Became a Best-seller
Extra: How are you using social networking to sell books?
Pitts: For us, social networking is simply an opportunity for people to share their stories with us and their community. We love it, and it has been invaluable in helping us grow our company. It also allows information to be disseminated quickly. In the past, you [needed] to do a mailing to your customers to let them know about new ideas or to share feedback. But social-networking sites allow you to interact with your customers immediately. We utilize Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
With our social media sites, we always try to keep an authentic dialogue going with our fans. There's no grand plan to "sell books" here—just simple conversation and connection. Of course, like any good marketer, we listen to the conversations on these pages closely and respond and engage whenever and wherever needed. We also use the channels to keep interested fans up to date on happenings at “The Elf on the Shelf,” like our national authors' book tour, special events and contests.
What's really interesting is how fast our Facebook page has grown in just one year. We currently have over 12,000 fans who have joined this page, and many use it to talk to others about our elf. For the most part, this page has grown organically and through "Web word-of-mouth," just like “The Elf on the Shelf” has grown dramatically through good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth. We're so very delighted with our fan and follower support, and hope to make our social media efforts even bigger in the months to come.
Extra: What challenges are you facing as a small, family-owned publishing company in a difficult economic climate?
Pitts: All companies face challenges. But for a small, family-owned publishing company, the biggest challenges include finding funding and gaining a customer base. In these economic times, it is tough to find the start-up capital to really build your business. Many of the traditional sources of funding have all but dried up. In addition, many bookstores and retail outlets are hesitant to try a book from an untested and unproven company. So, finding a way to get bookstore owners to believe in you can be daunting, to say the least.