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!
- 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!.
- 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!How to be ready to handsell your book wherever you go Click To Tweet