Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tips for Skittish Sellers

cookies My children are both in Scouts. It’s been a great experience for them—they get to try new things and build self-confidence and self-reliance.

The only thing I dislike about it? The selling.

I’m sure the other parents out there know what I mean. In October, my son sells barbeque for his troop. And in January/February, my daughter sells Girl Scout cookies for hers.

And they have a mom who absolutely hates selling things.

This means that I end up buying whatever they’ve got to sell. Yes, I will buy $100 worth of BBQ and $100 worth of Girl Scout cookies just to keep from hovering anxiously behind my children as they sell door to door.

This, however, isn’t such a great idea for books. We’d go broke pretty fast if I had to buy every book I’ve got out, or coming out, on the market.

Tips for the Shy Seller:

Virtual promotion is designed for you. Make sure you’re professional about it. If you’re going to go on a blog tour, have a headshot, pithy bio, and a book description of various lengths (50 words, 100 words, etc.) Try a variety of different approaches on your blog tour: interview your character, throw a contest, post on the writing craft, and do a straight-forward interview. Try to mix it up online if you’re going to lots of different sites.

You’ll need to have more of an online presence than someone who does lots of touring. A website is the bare minimum—also consider a blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

You need materials to mail out—bookmarks and postcards are best. Postcards can be sent to libraries and bookstores. Bookmarks can be left at libraries and bookstores (get their permission first).

Have a business card that speaks for you when someone asks what you’ve written. Practice a brief synopsis of your book that you can say in a confident way.

Promote in groups. I belong to a promotional group here in Charlotte that does signings and panels and workshops together. It helps me out tremendously.

If you’re part of a group, contribute to donations for raffled baskets for conferences. Many writing conferences raffle off baskets filled with donated books, bookmarks, etc. from different authors.

If you’re tour-challenged (a mother of small children, or have any mobility issues), consider an author appearance via Skype. They’re getting more popular and you may be more comfortable giving a talk while you’re in your own home.

Now if I can set up a virtual method of selling Scout stuff, I’ll be set… :)