Even unpublished writers say they aren't looking forward to that part of their job and if given the choice will prefer to be left alone to write.
During a recent visit to Lauren F. Boyd's: My Path To Publication blog, in her post on Marketing Your Book - Offline she wrote "I don't know much about marketing. [...] Don't see a lot of blogs focusing on how to do it..."
I read that and realized I've contributed to this problem by keeping silent. Why? Two reasons. I don't feel qualified and I didn't want to bore you.
Yet, I've been marketing since I first published Dead Witness in July 2008. You'd think I'd have learned a thing or two?
Actually I have, and still am.
Because I was brought up to not toot my own horn, at signings you'll find me next to my bowl of candies, smiling and approachable. But not aggressive. I've bought too many useless gadgets from door-to-door salesmen to entice readers with a hard sell.
Instead you'll first see a huge poster warning that I'm the visiting author. Next to me will be stacks of my novels to prove it. I'll also have free bookmarks and candies (wrapped) on hand.
If you're brave enough to approach, after our initial greeting, you'll note I'm passionate about writing. During a brief but exciting synopsis of my books, you might even notice my eyes sparkle when I speak of my protagonists: Valerie McCormick (Dead Witness) and Brendell Kisepisim Meshango (Broken but not Dead).
Before you take a copy to the till, I'll autograph it. Then I'll show you where you can find my email address inside and say that I'd love to hear from you when you're finished. (News Flash: It just occurs to me that everyone who has ever approached ends up buying a copy!)
|No, this isn't me. I took the photo.|
Announcements are emailed to newspapers, radio stations and news wires. I've got the standard formats already made up. Since starting marketing in 2008 I now have a list of contacts I notify personally. Posters, supplied by my publishers, are stuck up everywhere.
At this point you're may be wondering: If authors dislike book signings so much, why do them? Do they create sales?
No matter how uneventful, signings create a buzz. I once had a bookstore manager tell me that although I sold no books during my visit, they sold 5 after I left.
And that brings me to my next question.
What is an acceptable sale?
I was brought up to never ask, but I think the reason authors hesitate to say is because they don't want to be compared. Which is sad and unfair. Weather, location, season, and day-of-week leave their mark. I've stayed at a bookstore for 4 hours and sold nothing. Somewhere else I've stayed 2 hours and sold 19.
Generally, I sell 3 to 5 books an hour. Not a huge amount, but a number I'm happy with. I once sold 10 books to the same customer. On the launch of Broken but not Dead, I autographed 30. The store has since sold 10 more.
The secret to marketing is to find your comfort zone, push at it gently and learn from the experience. Start by writing the very best book you can possibly write. Study, research, grow. Then employ every single opportunity available to present your book to the world. For instance, while we're visiting our newest grand-baby in New Brunswick next month, I'm doing a reading one evening at the Oromocto Public Library.
This past Thursday evening I did a reading at the Vanderhoof Public Library in Vanderhoof, B.C., I spoke for two hours about my path to publication, my love of writing. But more on that in a future blog. I've already reached my quota of words for today.
How about you? Have you grown to love book signings yet? Or are you like me and still learning to appreciate them?