Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Selling 101 - Introverts: Alert!

As some of you know, I have been a published author since 2009 when my first book, The Ninth Curse, was released. However, I can honestly say I have missed out on almost SEVEN years of promotional opportunities because of my ignorance about what it takes to sell a book.

I am here to enlighten you a bit and, hopefully, give you some ideas on how to promote your book. And it all begins with the problem many of us writers have: Introvert tendencies.

Yes, I am an introvert. Some of my close friends and family may not believe this, because I can be incredibly loud and chatty when I know someone well. Along with my introversion, I also have a terribly self-conscious personality. I don't like a lot of direct attention on myself. I feel like talking about my writing face-to-face with someone comes across as bragging. That is why I thought the internet was such a great thing: there is a distance between me and other people. It is a much more comfortable environment for me.

Well, sadly, these qualities (introversion & self-consciousness) are both terrible ones for an author who wishes to sell books.

I think we all want to believe that if we just pick the right online promotion - a Facebook ad, a blog post that gets a piles of views, a tweet that goes viral, a few more reviews on GoodReads, a blog tour, etc. - that our books will suddenly sell.

I've been waiting for that to happen. Although these online avenues do sometimes pan out for some authors, this has not worked for me.

2016 arrived, and I decided to change up my whole game plan. Go outside my comfort zone. Put myself out there. It all started with handing my book to my hair stylist.

Yes, my hair stylist.

That translated into me talking to my local bookstore and getting my books on a "local author" promotion table, which led to my reaching out to the local newspaper, which led to the library inviting me to do a book signing, which has led to increasing sales and a self-confidence to talk about my books and my author self at a large women's charity group, my church and with scattered acquaintances all over town. I've met more people in the last month than I have in the last 5 years. All positive experiences.

The few books I dropped off at the bookstore have sold, and I've delivered more. A stranger to me saw my article in the newspaper and requested the library order one of my books - she checked it out, and it is also on hold for someone once it comes back.

I now realize that I have to pound the pavement and get out there in order to sell my books and find readers. Now that I've had success with my one local bookstore, I plan on reaching out to a couple of small towns nearby with bookstores and see if they are interested in carrying my books. I am also going to talk to the manager at a supermarket in town that has a local books display.

My book sales are on an upswing (nothing major, but impressive to me) and I'm hopeful some of those sales will lead to word-of-mouth sales or reviews.

And this has all happened in less than 2 months! So, let me boil down what I've learned for you...

Book Selling 101 - Tips for Introverts:

1) Reach out to people you know. Your hairdresser, nail tech, mail delivery person, church friend, etc. Believe it or not, people think it is really cool that you wrote a book. They want to hear about it! Have a business card or bookmark ready to hand to them.

2) Be positive and confident. Don't make excuses for yourself or your books. Talk about your book with a smile on your face. Even if you think it is not a book this person might read, they may buy it for a friend or relative. Your book is awesome! Act like it.

3) Talk to bookstores. Small, local bookstores are interested in featuring local authors. They know it gets people in the door. Be professional. Come with an author bio and be ready to talk about your books and what genre they fit into. Most likely it will be sold on a consignment arrangement, so be prepared to stop by occasionally to see how the book is selling.

4) Call/email local newspapers or magazines. I am lucky enough to live in a pretty small town. Our newspaper features a lot of local events and talent. If you don't have a newspaper like this one, try any number of local events/arts papers that you see in your neck of the woods. They are always looking for content. Contact them and tell them about yourself and your books and that you think their readership might be interested in hearing about you.

5) Visit your library. Libraries sometimes have a local writer table or display. Why not donate your books to your library and meet with the person in charge of the displays?  Ask to do a presentation on writing or your books. Libraries like to have interesting, engaging events for the community.

6) Call the local radio station. This one is next on my list! We have a few local stations that have featured local content at various times throughout the day. Or some radio stations read off events and happenings in town. If you have a reading or signing happening, call them and let them know you want to be added to the calendar.

Those are just a few tips I have. A writer has to come out from behind the computer screen once in awhile and reach out to readers. People love to get to know an author. They think you are interesting! Many wish they had written a book. Project yourself as a successful person, and people will fall in line behind you. Don't be afraid to tout the awesomeness of your accomplishments and the books you've written!

Any other tips that have worked for you when selling a book? Please comment! I'm open to suggestions!!!

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