One Book at a Time

I’ve never been a marketer.  Never really been a salesman either.  Sure, I’ve sold stereos at the now sort of defunct Circuit City but the idea of planning a marketing strategy was enough to make me roll my eyes and throw up my hands in surrender.

Oh, I’m talking about marketing my book, The Trust.

I remember the day I received a phone call from a publisher saying he wanted to publish. 

There was much rejoicing. 

The contract was reviewed and signed. Then waiting began.  Sometime between my pen hitting the contract and the day the book was released there was an “Oh S*#T!” moment when I realized that I, the marketing apprentice at best, was going to be leading a marketing campaign for my first book.

Rejoicing turned to terror.

So I took a deep breath and embraced my reality.  I compare it to being thrown into the deep end of the pool.  At night.  With sharks.  Hungry sharks.

So with that I began to learn about marketing and today I’m going to talk about a few non-traditional ideas for selling your books.  I should warn you that this is going to be old school and low tech.  We are going to talk about book events. 

1 – The First Step

As obvious as this may seem, the first step is the most important.  Think to all of the cheesy real estate commercials you’ve seen. 

Location, Location, Location.  This is the most important thing you can do – target your event location. However, I would encourage you to avoid visiting only bookstores as the location for your events.  Simply put in a bookstore you book will be one of many.  Sure you will be there, but so will countless others. Mix it up.  Have fun with it.

2 – Think Outside of the Box

This is the most important component of the equation.  I’ve developed a formula of sorts for book events.  To be successful I need a stream of people, a comfortable location, and a conversation starter.  If I can get people talking then I can get them talking about my book.  If I can get them talking about my book I can get them to buy it.

An example of such a location is a small wine shop.  Small wine shops (or gift shops, or tobacco shops or specialty shops or store with a theme matching your book, etc.) don’t stock or regularly sell books.   You’ll be the only game in town, competing with not a single other writer. 

What wine shops do have is wine tastings and sometimes they are free.  Keep in mind people love free stuff, especially free wine.  There’s the comfortable location and stream of customers.  Now all you have to do is get them talking.  (Hint – the wine never hurts when it comes to that!)  People will naturally want to see the author in the wine shop.  Start the conversation and watch the books sell.

Think locations where there are large groups of people.  Sporting events for instance.  Nearly every mid-size plus urban area has a minor league sporting team of one ilk or another.  These organizations are AMAZING for community support and will generally welcome an author out for a game.  Offer to pair your event with a fund raising cause that the team supports.  They’ll love you.  Think about an afternoon at the ballpark signing books and talking to baseball fans.  Stream of people, great location and people talking about your book.

3 – Give the People what they Want

Book clubs are a great way to market your book and to get feedback at the same time.  If you get a book club interested in your book then you can count on a number of sales.  To help this, I offer to attend the meeting when my book is discussed.  These have been some of the most enjoying times involving my book. 

For every book club I’ve approached they’ve loved having the writer come to speak to them.  Seems most readers don’t get to meet writers.  Book club members have friends in other book clubs.  They talk.  If you’re a hit at one, word will get around.  I’m starting to believe there is a book club circuit.

4 – Don’t be afraid to try something new.

You’ll have some book events where you’ll feel lucky to have sold one book.  However, always smile and tell the host how great it is to be there.  Follow up in your most gracious fashion and keep plugging along.  Keep books in your car when you drive around so you can always be prepared to pitch for an event.  Always have promotional material for people so they will know how to buy your book when they are looking for a new read.

I look at it the same as being a band trying to hit the big time.  I’m sure that U2 or The Killers or the current band de jure played to an empty house or two on the way up. 

The point of all of this is that one step, or in this case, one book at a time, is always a step in the right direction.  Think outside the box and if people are seeing you and your book, sales will follow.

So while you’re here why not read a chapter from my book or even buy a copy of your own.   A portion of all proceeds from the sale of The Trust will be donated to canine related charities.

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