Monday, June 7, 2010

Joe Cool Author...

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?


  1. I completely agree! I am the world's worst salesperson. And it was only recently that I began to tell people that I'd had a book published. But, recently, I've been putting out a few FaceBook posts on the issue.

    I was at a convention recently where authors could sell their own books, and it hurt me just to look at them sitting there. I'm glad it works for Ms. Sims, though!

  2. It's not an easy thing but if you believe in your 'product' then you should be able to sell it. Have no shame! I've just tried video posts for the first time, hoping to help put a face/personality to a name/blog :) Gotta try these things!

  3. Most writers are indeed introverts. I'm one, for sure, but have learned to overcome it--at times, and with much effort! Glad you found my article interesting.

  4. Ms. Simms, what a pleasure to have you weigh in on my post! It's definitely a struggle to overcome the shyness, but your article really did inspire me to give it the old college try! Maybe start small (like talking it up to my friends) and then venture out bigger...

    What's truly frustrating is that my husband is a natural social butterfly and salesman...he makes it look so easy!

  5. No, you're not alone in the shy department. I'm terrified just thinking about doing presentations; but fortunately or unfortunately, since I'm housebound with my disabled daughter (thanks for coming into my blog) I don't have to do this. Thus, promoting via my blog, Facebook etc. And I do speak up to friends, relatives, and anyone I meet if it seems appropriate. I have friends scattered over the country, so email will be a way when my book comes out. I see from your profile that you grew up East and went West, while I grew up West and came East. How interesting. Good luck placing your first book, and with your next project. I'll keep in touch.

  6. p.s. I love your blog background photo. And Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors.

  7. (Peeking out from under my table) How have I overcome my shyness? Ummm...(ducking back under table fumbling around - popping back out while attaching spine) Let me tell you (whoops, that wasn't my spine it was an extendable duster and it just collapsed, diving back under table and peeking out) I'll let you know when I find out.