When I decided to become a writer, I did it mostly because I liked silence. I liked the idea of sitting with my own thoughts and sculpting words in my preferred order.
But then I got published. And I realized that silence and control over my books wasn’t mine anymore. I was now expected to market them? I was expected to talk to others about my books and try to persuade them to exchange their hard earned cash for them? This was not what I signed up for. I didn’t think I could market. I didn’t think I’d be good at it.
Unfortunately, in this extremely competitive market, I don’t have a choice. I must engage with future readers, pitch my stories and talk about myself in a way that would make others want to read my books.
In the short time that I’ve been a published author, I’ve discovered four no-fail ways to easily transition me from sullen, reclusive, cat-hair covered wordsmith who likes silence to cheerful, enthusiastic, non-pushy salesperson who likes taking other people’s money. The best thing about these ways? They’re cheap! They’re not too hard! And I’ve almost come to the point that I can do them effortlessly! You can do them too!
- Have business cards. I designed my own cards and bought them through Moo.com. (Moo is the coolest place to get cards, IMHO!) So for $20 I have 200 cards that have a lot more than my contact information. My cards have said, “Author, Homeschooling Mother, Queen.” My cards are a manifestation of what I want to be, which gives me confidence. When I pass out a card, (that I always have on hand) people are impressed that I am prepared, that I am professional, and that I am willing to share who I am.
- Carry your books with you always. I put my most recent books in a ziplock bag, to keep them dry and then put them in a padded envelope to keep them from getting dinged up and then carry them in my handbag. They won’t stay in my bag for long. In the month of June, 2015, I sold six books, right out of my bag because I would start conversations about my writing. When others asked questions, I’d say, “Would you like to see my book? I have it right here!” More often than not, they pulled out their checkbooks or forked over cash. I signed the books in front of them and both of us are thrilled. What do you think they do next? They go up to their spouse or their friend and say, “Hey! I just bought this from Katharine! Did you know she’s an author?”
- Have a cozy relationship with your local library. Make a point of visiting it on a regular basis for two reasons: one, to pick up a book (you should always be reading something!) and two, to chat with the librarians. They should know who you are. Then, when it comes time for your next release, you donate a copy of it to them. Ask them if they have any events for local authors. Most of them do! Good libraries will enthusiastically promote a local author. (And leave them your business card!) Your first readers should come from your local community and your library’s connections should be at the center of it all.
- Be a comfortable conversationalist. If speaking to others about your books is difficult, then you must practice. Then have questions prepared for the people you meet, like “how is it you are here today?” “Are you enjoying/hating this weather?” Notice that these questions have nothing to do with your books, but they have everything to do with making others feel at ease. The more you get the other person talking about themselves, the more they trust you and will be potentially open to your passions. As you grow more comfortable in your conversation, ask a question that has to do with books. “Do you read?” “What kinds of books do you enjoy?” And allow their responses to guide you. Don’t feel rushed. Don’t push your agenda. Just relax. The worst case scenario is that the conversation never gets around to your books. So what? You’ve practiced talking with someone and you can speak to them again in the future. But the best case? Their eyes light up when they talk about their favorite books. You can then say, “I’m a author. Would you like to see my books?” And put it in their hands.
Back when I sat down to write that first novel, I didn’t know that marketing would be required of me, but it turns out I enjoy the transaction that leads to cash in my hand. I also like meeting new readers. I also like having to restock on books in my purse and business cards in my wallet. I still like the silence of writing, but I’m seeing the value in the risk taking of meeting others, of asking questions and extending my hand.
I am a writer and a marketer. By using these four easy first steps, I’m finding success in marketing. It’s not as fun as the writing part, but it’s getting more fun with each conversation I have.
Katharine Grubb is the author of Write A Novel in 10 Minutes A Day, and Soulless Creatures. Her new book, Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A Day will be released November 11, 2015 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. She also leads the writers group 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook. She lives with her large family in Massachusetts.