I’m not suggesting you take advantage of people and situations in a bad way—but that you take advantage of opportunities that might result in book sales. First, you must be willing to watch for opportunities and recognize them. Then figure out how you can use them to gain a little exposure for your book. Remember, every opportunity, activity, event, occasion, prospect you come across and even pursue may not result in immediate gratification (humungous sales). But every time you put your book in front of a likely reader or the friend of a likely reader or a bookseller or a reviewer, for example, there is a potential for immediate, eventual, or residual sales.
I womanned a booth at the huge Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for many years with a variety of authors. Some were newbies and others were seasoned marketers. Sometimes authors would complain at the end of the weekend, “I sold only ten, seven, or even 0 books.” Yeah, that doesn’t make for a very happy author. But what most of them didn’t realize is the enormous exposure they got.
Not only was their book displayed before thousands of people—hundreds of them going home with a piece of their promotional material, but there were often other opportunities available to several of our authors. An invitation to speak at a local library, a handout asking for authors with interesting books and interesting stories to appear on either a regular or Internet radio show, teachers eager to bring their book into their school library, not to mention the opportunity to learn ever so much about book promotion from the more seasoned authors. Some of our authors met publishers, reviewers, newspaper and magazine reporters looking for a new book project or a scoop. One of our authors met a documentary filmmaker who brought his story to life on the big screen.
Authors, there are opportunities for exposure for your book in your daily life—practically every day. All you have to do is learn to recognize them and have the courage to reach out and embrace them.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to sell books at an event in our small town. When I showed up, I learned that the other authors all cancelled. I could have been discouraged and left. The foot traffic was almost nonexistent, so the band that was performing moved closer to the street. I could have moved with them or left and gone home. Instead, I enjoyed the shade (it was 90 degrees out) and I enjoyed the music from a distance. I also enjoyed talking to the few people who walked by. I handed out bookmarks, shared stories about my books, because I was there, the store owner put my books front and center for the week. And I sold 10 books that would not have sold had I gone home. Can you see the perks in this scenario or do you see only the negatives—no fellow booksellers to attract customers, very little foot traffic…?
This week I want you to watch for opportunities and take advantage of those that make sense for you and your particular book.