Selling Yourself

Compared to writing a novel, marketing is a pain for me. It takes time, effort and is often confusing. Some people claim advertising doesn’t work, while others swear by it. I’ve been a salesman before, so I know the basics, but how do you sell a novel? First, don’t sell your novel – sell yourself! If you have only one novel in you, then selling just that one novel might work, but if you want to become a long-lived author (I mean your books – no guarantees on personal lifespans), people need to know who you are, what you do.

Name recognition is important. It’s the same as product labels. Had you rather be Campbell Soup or Bob’s Soup. Bob may make better soup, tasty and chock full of vitamins and all organic products, but fewer people will know about it because Campbell is a household word. Authors like James Patterson or Steven King can say, “I’m writing a book,” and it will sell millions of copies because people know what to expect based on past products.The obvious thing to promote yourself having your name prominently displayed on the cover of your book. I’ve seen so many books with poor cover graphics or badly placed author names, that I have to wonder what they were thinking. Covers sell books. That begs repeating. Covers sell books.

Social media can be a two-edged sword. It’s time consuming and sometimes hit or miss. Spamming marks you as an amateur, but infrequent socializing doesn’t garner followers. Blogs, Tweets, and websites can be useful if you provide content for the effort it takes a viewer to become a follower. Listing your books on Goodreads along with other recomendations can help, but show people you might read their novels too. Remember: It’s not advertising; it’s socializing.

Printed material. I often use business cards, post cards, and bookmarks for advertising. The face of each postcard bears the book’s cover and how to buy it, and on the back a short blurb. (Short) Any of this material can be obtained on line very inexpensively. Even book stores that refuse to carry your book will allow you to leave bookmarks. I leave some of each on display tables at conventions, book signings, doctors’ offices, even airports. People sitting and waiting will pick up anything and read it. They probably won’t not rush out and buy your book (Although E-readers now make that very easy), but they might remember your name ot the book’s title and tell someone else.

Groups. Facebook groups and yahoo groups are an excellent way to bond with fellow writers, artists and readers. Discussions allow you to express your ideas and perhaps raise a little interest in your writing. Often, specific groups have reviewers, such as zombie groups or vampire groups, who will be glad to review you novel, and expose it to the very people who read that genre.

Book signings. Be prepared, be friendly and always smile, even if you write macabre fiction. Sometimes it’s not the sale – it’s the presence. Display your books and material for the viewer, not for your ease. Make them want to stop. Offer candy, mints, juggle – whatever it takes to attract their attention for that split second that makes them stop and talk. Stand and greet them as if they had entered your office or place of business. Remember, you’re in partnership with the bookstore or coffee shop. Shake their hand, ask them their name or their favorite author. Interact with them if you want them to interact
with them.

You. Always remember that you are your product. Treat readers nicely and they will remember you. Be an a** h*** and they will tell everyone they know. If people show an interest or ask what you do, hand them a business card or a bookmark. Don’t become defensive if they ridicule you for your chosen genre. Gently remind them that you’re making a living at it (Or hope to). Be friendly. If people want to tell you about the story they want to write, but probably never will, listen. Be you, but be the best you you can be.

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