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Book Marketing: How To Be The Best Ambassador For Your Books

Book Marketing: How to Be the Best Ambassador for Your Books

message in a bottleIt’s often said that no-one can speak as passionately about a book as its author, so it makes sense to be ready to handsell your self-published book wherever you.

It’s not just a case of carrying promotional materials with you – you also need to be mentally prepared.

Here are examples of of ALLi author members who do just that, in a variety of settings, plus some top tips on how to cast aside your shyness.

On the Move

  • Julia Bell: Since my books are eBooks I watch out for folks on trains, planes, on holiday etc and then ask them what they’re reading. A business card comes their way eventually and sometimes they ask for two or three for friends. I thought I’d set the bar high by giving out cards to some lovely folk who knocked on the door to talk about the Bible. I always carry business cards with me, so folk can check out my website etc. They’re an absolute godsend when I’m on holiday, on a train or plane. People seem impressed that I’m in ALLi.
  • Jill Marsh: On a flight to Switzerland, the crew upgraded me to Business, where I met a nice lady who runs a posh hotel. Several glasses of champers later, she had all my postcards and booked me for a speaking event. Opportunities arise everywhere, and handled well, we are ambassadors in a real sense.
  • John Lynch: On a recent train journey, I got into conversation with the woman sitting opposite after she spilt some tea on the table while reading. “Forgive me if this seems rude,” says I, “but do you read a lot?” “When I’m on holiday I do,”‘ says she. “I’ll be on holiday for the next two weeks.” “Then forgive me again, but publishers don’t do this any more unless you’re a big name, so we have to do it ourselves,” and I gave her a bookmark and flyers for my three fiction books. That led to an interesting chat during which she swore she would buy Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper to take on holiday. Well, she will or she won’t, but what I know for sure is that, had I not shown her the flyers and talked about my books, she wouldn’t buy anything by me.

In Coffee Shops

  • Debbie Young: Chatting in Foyles’ coffee shop with two fellow ALLi members, C J (Chris) Browne and Lucienne Boyce, we were approached by a lady who had been sitting alone at another table, listening to our conversation. She said she loved books and reading – they’d helped her get through her recent cancer treatment, from which she was thankfully in remission. Thrilled to have this opportunity to talk to some real authors, she was eager to know more about our work. We plied her with our author cards, showed her some books, and invited her to Lucienne’s imminent book launch. Note to self: it’s no bad thing to speak loudly in a bookshop cafes!

In Extremis

  • Linda Gillard: Don’t forget folks – I set the bar high when I handed my cards out to the paramedics who loaded me into an ambulance after I’d been knocked down by a motorbike. Indies are never off duty. (Read more about Linda’s experience on her earlier blog post here.)
  • A D Starrling: I handed some over to the paramedics who came to transport a poorly prem baby to a surgical unit in another hospital. Mind you, this was while they were having a cuppa in the kitchen, not hovering over the baby!
  • Chris Longmuir: I recently had a health scare and handed my promotional postcards to the paramedics who were running all sorts of tests on me.

How to Be Bold

  • John Lynch: Don’t be shy. Shyness can be a problem. Practice asking, “Do you read?” If they don’t, talking about your books would be a waste of time; if they do, the conversation is under way. You might find it easier once you realise that people LIKE meeting writers and talking to them. When in conversation with strangers, we go through that “Should I have heard of you?” business I say, “Probably not, but this is what I write”. I give them a bookmark and some flyers; I always make sure I have some with me. It doesn’t result in a sale every time or even most times, but I have sold books that way that I would not otherwise have sold. Writers must also be salespeople, and shrinking violets have to overcome their shyness and SPEAK UP.
  • Michael MacMahon: A late school- friend (originally from John Lynch’s neck of the woods) who became an author late in life used to say “shy bairns get nowt.” He and John would have got on!.

Last Word

  • Timothy Lewis: It’s amazing the spikes you see (especially in free downloads) when you meet people in real life!

OVER TO YOU

What’s the most unlikely situation in which you’ve handsold a book or passed sales material to a potential new reader? We’d love to know!

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Debbie Young

Debbie Young writes warm, funny feel-good fiction, including the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, which begins with the bestselling "Best Murder in Show". As ALLi's Author Advice Center Manager, she also writes guidebooks for authors. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, she is a frequent speaker at other literary events. Find out more about Debbie's writing life on her author website www.authordebbieyoung.com.

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This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. One of my best sales strategies is to give away print editions my books instead of sales materials such as book marks and flyers. I have now given away over 13,000 copies of the print editions of my books. On the other hand, I refuse to give away free copies of the ebook editions of my books. Using this approach has helped me sell over 875,000 copies of my books (mainly self-published) worldwide.

    Note that this is not the only sales strategy that I use. I have developed between 75 and 100 creative book marketing techniques that over 95 percent of authors are not creative enough to develop.

    Regarding creative marketing, I like this quip by an author whose nickname is “The Name Tag Guy”:

    “I once saw my book for sale on Ebay. For two dollars. (sniff) So, do you know what I did? I bid $250 on it. Then bought it. That’s marketing baby!”
    — Scott Ginsberg (The Name Tag Guy)

    I always advise that authors who want to be much more effective than 99 percent of authors in promoting their books go against conventional wisdom. Stay away from social media. Also stay away from other things the majority is doing such as the trendy free ebook promotions on Amazon. You will find, as I have found, that you will attain greater success than 99 percent of authors attain. As Scott Ginsberg says, “That’s marketing baby.”

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    The Prosperity Guy
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 280,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

  2. Upscale Alternative Lifestyle Party.

    Each year, I take part in some very unique events where I hand out business cards and information regarding my new book RSVP from Heaven.

    If you think Chapters 1-7 were colorful, wait until you read Chapter 8…..and then you will understand.

    Enjoy the Adventure!

  3. At a swim meet I noticed several moms were reading on their ereaders. I approached each one and asked if they’d be interested in a book I’d written and handed them a card. All purchased and later at another meet told me how much they loved the book. Note: only one had a Kindle. The others were Nooks and iBooks on iPad.

  4. I do this too. At my hairdresser, who has to make conversation with me for half an hour, the cards come out. Indeed, if you have those ultra-cute Moo half-cards, they keep them because they’re pretty!

    If sales people call, in person or on the phone, I use them as target practice – for my book pitches, I mean. I love the tip about keeping cards by the front door. I shall put some there right now.

  5. I’m new at this…so could someone specify what’s meant by a “flyer?” I’m new at this — and mine will be a book for young children, so (unless I’m at a playground or pre-schoool) this may not pertain. Still, I like to know the posssibilities.

  6. i went in to the local branch of Holland and Barret to buy cereal bars. I got chatting to the chap behind the counter and when he found out I was an author wanted a signed book for his mums birthday. The people in the queue behind me then asked if I had another one as they would like to buy one for their friends birthday. Love the examples above. Be bold is the message I am getting here and will definitely follow the advice

  7. Great ideas there, I’m impressed by the examples of giving flyers to paramedics! I always carry a box of books in my car boot but can’t think of any unusual examples of sales at the moment. I did accost our Minister of Agriculture (mine is a farming book) and got a photo taken with him but I much prefer my pic with Donal Ryan! I think my claim to fame is that he bought a copy of my book and got me to sign it!

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