Liesel Jones, author of Roxanne in La La Land by L.A. DeVaul (Wido Publishing, 2011), shares her favorite method of marketing. Being a socially awkward introvert, Liesel speaks from painful experience. She sometimes blogs at Sapphire Cat.
Let’s face it, some of us writers are more secluded, nervous about making eye contact than others, and that’s fine, we all have our unique powers. But the question that used to get me down is: if I’m not outgoing and smiling and talking to people about my book, how will I sell anything?
So your book is coming out, or it’s out already, and you have heard the success stories about being a great marketer by doing simple things like posting on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else. You will probably create a website or blog and convince yourself you can be outgoing for a while. And you are, blogging with personality and unleashing your charm on Twitter. But it feels forced, you can’t keep it up forever, and those bestseller numbers, or any numbers, just aren’t coming.
You may have assumed the sheer awesomeness of your writing would launch your book to the top of the charts, or whatever happens to Stephen King every time he writes something. But your extroversion is fading, the readers are slow in coming, and eventually you give up your marketing aspirations and scuttle back into your closet to write again; wondering, hoping that next time will be different.
Facing this situation, the questions I asked myself were: What went wrong? Why couldn’t I go where so many others have gone before? Am I destined for failure?
No, neither you nor I are destined for failure. There’s a reason these marketing tactics didn’t work despite following a pattern prescribed by others with their success stories and guarantees. It’s because it probably felt forced and unnatural to you, just as it did for me.
The marketing gurus may say, “if you want results you have to go outside your comfort zone.” But I disagree. Forcing ourselves into discomfort chases people away. It chases sales away.
Once I accepted this, I also realized that, although an introvert, I still interacted with people on a regular basis, having conversations and making friends. Knowing these acquaintances could become my potential readers, I devised a plan that works for me.
I began by buying a case of books from the publisher at a discount. Then I just lived my life as normal with a few minor tweaks.
Believe it or not, most people find writers very interesting. (I didn’t believe this for years, but I know better now.) And no matter what your day job is, when people ask what you do, the answer should always be “a writer.” Because you are, especially if you have a book out. They will then ask what you write, and you will answer that you wrote a book. They will ask what the book is about and they will ask where they might buy it, and by Jove (because you bought a case) you just might have several with you, or in your car, or at home where they can swing by some time, have a cup of tea and buy a copy.
The funny thing is, when I told friends who said they wanted to buy Roxanne in La La Land they could go to the bookstore, or Amazon, I found that even if they had the best intentions of doing so, they usually didn’t. What they did do was come to my house, or ask me to come to theirs. They want to show support. They want an autographed copy. And they have also promised you they would, so they are held more accountable than telling you they will buy it from Amazon someday….
The great thing about this set up is that everyone wins. I usually sold mine for $10-$12, although the retail price is $15. Selling them this way brings higher profits for the author. For me this ended up being an $8 profit per sale (way better than the $1.50 I would get in royalties waiting for someone to buy one book from the bookstore). It was a great return on my investment.
Even though I am introverted and socially awkward, I can get through a case of books faster than I’d ever have expected and make a stellar profit in the bargain.
Really, all I do is when someone asks what I do, I say writer. Then they say, What have you written? I tell them briefly about Roxanne in La La Land, and when they express interest, I close the deal.
Someone who’s an outgoing marketer type with a bang-up plan would benefit even more from having books on hand. Because, let’s face it, this type of individual will probably sell more books than the awkward introvert.
No matter what type of personality, it’s possible to sell more books and make a higher profit when you have them on hand. This kind of marketing is as easy as a conversation.