I’m going to admit a dirty little secret all authors great and small share:
We can’t get enough people buying our books, seriously.
While I stood behind my table at the Black Writers On Tour booth at the Los Angeles Black Business Expo, I thought to myself, ‘how we as authors generate more of a buzz so that when we go to these expos or bookstores, that we can get the crowds much like the ‘bigger names’?’
Answer: Get the steppin!
Dr. Rosie Milligan came up with a great suggestion for all of us in the booth. She advised us before we set up our table, to go to each booth and collect business cards from everybody. Great tip for all you new and beginning authors out there! If you want to be known, be assertive! Shoot, the same folks you visit are the same ones who pass by your table, look at your book, say they don’t have the money and walk off! Remind them of who you are before they forget! I am reminded of a phrase, ‘strike while the iron is hot’. That’s what we authors always have to do. Let them know you’re out there and keep at it.
So while that piece of wisdom was laid on us and followed accordingly, it would also help to have that mailing list ready along with an order form so that when you get the people who exhausted their pocket or check books for the day, you will have something for the passers-by, if they’re serious about buying your book. I was fortunate to have a flyer with all of the bookstores listed so that when these same people couldn’t buy my book, at least they knew where to find it.
As a result of my foot walkin, I was able to snap cards in the most viable of places; media. Somewhere, new and beginning authors, there is a newspaper that is willing to have a review of your book or an advertisement, a radio show host ready to grant an interview, a website that is willing to promote your work, and potential customers who don’t know who you are but in one email blast, hundreds of people will know a brand new author’s name.
This year, I’ve attended several business mixers and there are always people willing to sell their products, business, you name it. Even if they’re not *readers* per se, they do have friends or family who love to check out a book so give it a try! I went to one mixer while promoting my books this year and I met up with a businesswoman who is working on my first ever poetry CD! There is a woman who designs mugs and tee-shirts, certainly a tool for the new and beginning author who is looking for unique ways to market themselves. Why not take a chance and explore all the possibilities? Give it a try!
The writing business is much like the tale of the Tortoise and Hare. “Slow and steady’ wins the race every time, it’s when you expect too much too soon and hoping for fame and fortune off your first book does frustration sets in. Like that tired rabbit, your enthusiasm for selling your hard work burns out. Some authors never regain it after it’s gone. Don’t let that happen to you.
The key is simple: you just have to get out there and do it! I suggest a comfortable pair of sneakers for your journey in becoming this great author everyone’s projecting you to be. I have friends who also write going out in public and doing what it takes to get enough sales for their book. It’s never enough and with so much competition out there in this business, you can rest assured old Uncle Joe down the street has his marketing plan in place to promote his first book.
So get the stepping! You can rest your feet when you go on Oprah!
Charles L. Chatmon
Note: This little piece of advice appeared on Thoughts On A String, September 25, 2006