The writer/publisher – part 19

Start promoting where you can

If you are interested in self-publishing you must read everything Dan Poynter has written on the subject. I have been following his advice and am seeing good results promoting my book using deceptively simple actions.

I live in a small county in Virginia and a new book by a local person is news, so I am doing everything I know to capitalize on this to develop allies and to develop word of mouth referrals.

The uncertainties of work and difficulties with management are constant topics of interest. If the person I’m talking to is happily employed or retired, they usually have relatives who are struggling to get along. A few minutes of conversation and people get interested in reading my book. I often carry books with me to give them to key people who can spread the word.
Yesterday, I was the subject of a favorable article in the Fluvanna Review. The write-up by Arlene Price did a marvelous job on my self-confidence.

Later in the day I set up an impromptu book signing at a two hour Business Expo (and Barbecue) for Fluvanna County businesses. I hoped to generate a little local publicity for the book and to find an entry to state and local career counseling services.

I did far better than I expected. I sold some books at an event where the rest of the businesses were giving out free samples. That encourages me to look for other venues where I can do a book-signing and talk with people about their work.

The high point of my day was hearing these remarks from different people as they approached my book-signing table:

"Oh, I’ve heard about this book!"
"Sue was telling me about this the other day."
"Nancy told me about it at the office."

Dan Poynter is right. You follow his advice and people will start talking about your book. I had three sales to people who had heard about the book from friends.

I also got connected to a regional group which helps students increase their career and life opportunities. This is a chance to speak to students and provide new insights to support their career planning and course selection. It should be interesting, probably challenging, and may lead to other speaking engagements.

More visibility is better when you are a new author. We’ll follow this and see where it leads.

UPDATE: We had a street-long yard sale Saturday with over a hundred visitors cruising up and down the street looking for bargains. I put out a small table with  a pile of books, the newspaper article, and a "Book Signing Today" sign. Sure enough, several people remembered seeing my picture in the paper and we started talking about the uncertainties of employment. I sold three books and made a number of interesting contacts. I was not pushing the books, you understand, I had a nice little display and I answered people’s questions. Most of our effort was directed toward handling yard sale customers.

There was a common pattern to all three sales. People would come to our yard sale tent and immediately look at the book cover. Sometimes they would look up with a questioning glance, but usually they would circle around our tables looking for bargains. Then they would move back to the book table and pick up the book or read the newspaper article. Then they would start asking questions. Once we started talking, a story would emerge of problems at work. I would show them the chapter that covered that problem and they would buy the book. Several other people took  the book cards I had made up so they could order online, usually for someone else in their family.

One thing did emerge in several discussions. When customers would hesitateto pick the book up for fear that I might try to get them to buy it, I told them that it was available as a free download if they would go on the internet. They would always pick up the book and open it once they knew they could get it for free.

Somehow, making it OK for them NOT to buy the book was enough to overcome their fear of being sold. We had many interesting discussions, once their barriers were down.

These small venue discussions help me sharpen my "elevator pitch" which is what I say when someone asks me, "What is your book about?" I am shooting for a smooth one-minute presentation that captures the essence of the book in a way that the person can grasp it immediately. I do it reasonably well, but I need more practice.

The way things are going, I am going to get that practice and be up to speed in a few weeks.

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