As I prepare for the Baltimore Book Festival this weekend I am not only think of the items I will need ie: books, marketing material, signage, pens, clothes I need to pack...ect but I also plan for the questions I get asked at each event. "How do I become an author?" "I have a book but it's not selling?" "Do I have to attend events if I want to be an author?" "How do you have time to write?" and my favorite "Isn't it the publishers job to promote my book?" Some of my answers my come off as a little too simple or being a smarty pants, but believe me I try my best not to be. To become an author one must write the book, if your book is not selling what have you done to try and sell it, if you are not willing to attend events then you are really not prepared to be an author, I write whenever I can, and it's your book you wrote it so why the heck are you not promoting it?
The publishing industry is saturated with authors, some great and some mediocre. If you want to make it you need to get out there and promote yourself. Being an author is a business. Do your business a favor and make it blossom. Do you think McDonald's became a billion dollar industry off the first burger they made? Then why do you think it will happen off your first book, especially if you are less than zealous about promoting your product. Note: Showing up to an event with your book in hand or passing out your material is not promoting your book. If you do not have a booth, table, or display (in other words paid to be there) then what you are doing in committing an offense. You are also only promoting to other authors and publishers don't have time to read your stuff if you don't have time to follow their submission guidelines. Promoting your book is paying to be at the event itself. Letting people come to you and having a short introduction ready without holding your potential readers hostage.
Other ways to promote is to get your name out their by networking and doing on interviews, virtual book tours, and signings. Get your book reviewed (try Readers Favorite) or simply google a few. The goal is to have your name pop up in as many places as possible. Also if anyone mentions that your book needs work, do not get upset. If your book was not properly edited, you really shouldn't shoot the messenger for pointing it out. If you have a topic that people aren't interested in you really can't be upset either. For example at one event a lady tried to push her book about her love for cats on me. I am allergic to cats! Seeing the cover was enough to make me start inching. Instead of her listening that I was not interested and thanking her for talking to me she became irate. Now, she went from me just not being interested to me not even mentioning her book to anyone else unless it was to say don't buy it because she was rude. If someone does not want your book, oh well. I don't smoke cigarettes but it is not stopping the makers from selling them to billions of people. My point, if you have a viable product just because one person does not buy it does not mean others will not.
Also, be approachable. Do you know how many times I have walked around events and authors are sitting behind the table with their arms crossed as dozens of people walk past? I understand events are long and people get tired but you can sit down without frowning at people and scaring them away from your table. Get out of the snooty 'I am an author' mindset and into the 'I want to be a successful author' state of mind. You never know who could be walking past and watching you. So smile and sell that book. How well you sell books depends on how well you are promoting you!
Until Next Time,
Rise and Fall of a Track Star