I was reading an article by Elizabeth Sims (author of the Rita Farmer Mysteries) regarding how to handsell your book. Yes, you read correctly: HANDSELL. She went a step further than listing marketing suggestions and the "create a presence on the internet" line. She suggests that authors become more assertive - bordering on aggressive (her word, not mine) - when promoting their book at signings, booths or even from the trunk of the car!
Now the article was fascinating! Engage the would be reader in a conversation about themselves (the type of fiction they enjoy or an upcoming holiday), mention your book, physically put it in their hand and voila: book sold 6 out of 10 times. Add the offer of a personalization to the would be recipient and make it 8 out of10. Sounds great...sounds like it would work on me - I'd surely by a book if the actual author handed it to me to look at. After all, how would you get around it? How would you look the author in the eye and put his/her book down and say "no thanks." It's like when you happen upon a Girl Scout cookie booth. Once you stop to look, there's absolutely no way you can walk away without buying at least one box of Thin Mints!
My only problem is that I, myself, could NEVER follow through with this plan. Though a bundle of fun once you get to know me, I'm painfully shy at first meet! There's no way I could just hustle up a conversation about Mother's Day and suggest that my book would be the perfect gift (no matter how much I believe that's true...)
I do think that selling yourself is as important a factor in how successful your book becomes, but it just seems unfair that writers (who thrive in small, poorly ventilated rooms with nothing but a computer screen and a cup of coffee) have to also excel at small talk and ad-lib performances! If you research famous writers you'll likely come up with words like recluse or private. Heck, you even hear of pseudonyms and ghost writers - you never hear of a ghost singer because performers like the spotlight.
Reading Ms. Sims article led me to wonder: Am I in the minority as a shy writer nervous about self-promotion? How did you overcome your shyness to get out there and talk up your book?