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Shy Writers - Your Sales Salvation - The Soft Sell

Gloria Oliver

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One of the BIG shocks after I finally got a clue and was able to get accepted by a publisher and got one of my works in print was a facet of the business I'd never imagined - I now had to push and SELL. Mind you, I was of the long standing belief that a large majority of writers were shy, reclusive people, who wrote books and then let the publisher take over as they went on and wrote more books. Something which sounded fabulous to my personality type.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Yes, once upon a time, publishers did take care of everything and writers only wrote. But in the last twenty years or so, the publishing industry has gone through a great upheaval. A lot of the old altruism is gone and the corporations have evolved to be run by accountants and marketing folks rather than nurturing editors. Publishers are now in the interest of actually making a PROFIT.

I don't blame them. We all want to make money. Unfortunately, however, this has affected the role of the writer and the expectations placed on them as to what they bring to the table, before, during, and after working on a manuscript.

So now, after going through the painstaking years to create your novel, beat it into shape, market it around, and finally (if the stars align just right) get a publisher, your work is only now truly beginning. For once your book is on the cusp of release, you must get yourself out there and sell yourself, your book, some might say your soul.

Okay, okay, so maybe that last was a tad on the melodramatic side but for those of us who do not fall into the category of “outgoing", it can sure feel that way. :P

I'll be honest, I think I am probably one of the most boring persons around. My writing is not the best thing since sliced bread, though I like to think it might actually be semi-interesting and at least tolerably written. So being a realist, the last thing I want to do is try to force people into buying things they may or may not want. Heck, I can't even talk to someone if I believe I have an agenda hidden somewhere. (Yes, I totally stink at schmoozing!) Can't push myself on people - I value my own space too much to want to invade and not respect someone else's. So for me, the Hard Sell is OUT. But I do want to sell books, I do want people to read my stuff. . . I just want them to want to, for them to be the ones that come to the decision of doing it and not be pushed into it. So I rely on the SOFT SELL.

My Soft Sell plan has several facets, and most of them are totally shy writer friendly.

First - The FREEBIE Table at conventions is your friend! I love these things for three reasons. 1) I can leave my stuff all over it without invading anyone's personal space. 2) Prospective book buyers will pick up freebie promo without prompting and look at it at their leisure without feeling pressured by anyone. 3) It promotes name and brand recognition as they will be seeing it over and over, year after year.

The type of stuff I have for freebie tables cater to pretty much any and all tastes (I hope). What you decide to use will depend on how much time and money you want to put into it. For me, I bombard them with bookmarks, Sample CD's, postcards, trifolds, and flyers with the book cover, back cover blurb, and part of the first chapter. I did pens one year, but found them too expensive overall, so have not done them again. If you can find something cheap that ties to your book that you can stick a label on with your name and url, DO IT! Statistics say that your name has to be seen 7 to 10 times before it starts percolating into people's subconscious, and the freebie table will definitely help!

Second - whenever possible, I get either a dealer's table or better yet (if the convention has it) and artist alley table. Okay, I can her you already - “But wait, you said you don't do Hard Sell. What's up with the table?" I don't do hard sell. But I do give others the opportunity to check out my stuff, touch the books, read a page or two, if they want.

I sit at this table, my castle, and I smile and smile and smile. And the watch people go past and sometimes back around. When I feel brave or have seen some of them a few times, I will smile even wider and wave or give an acknowledging nod. (Eye contact! Very important!) I load the table with the same stuff as the freebie table (helps them make mental connections and give them yet another pass at my name), I have a banner on the front of the table with my name in big letters, the books are stacked out so they can grab one to look at if they want. I now even have table toppers with a four word or less blurb to catch a passerby's attention. (These can draw someone from the other side of the room if intriguing enough!) If they stop, I leave them alone, yet keep an eye on them in case they have questions. If they do, I answer them, even if it's just asking me about panel locations, restrooms or whatever. (I have felt like an information kiosk before. :P But that too gets you brownie points. ) (Oh and be prepared for your face to hurt at the end of the day. Smiling is hard work! lol!)

Third - Panels - oh yeah, doing panels! Not a big thrill for us shy types, but it does get better over time and you're not up there alone, so it's nowhere near as bad as a presentation would be. But to get on the guest list, that sometimes takes a little work. All depends on the Con. One of them, I had purchased an artist alley table for several years and as they got to know me, I was invited. Another I got in from the ground floor as they were recruiting from authors at another con. Some I've sent emails to the programming staff asking if they are looking for guests. (I can do emails so much easier than one on ones! They can't see me!)

If you get in, this does several things for you. Usually, it gets your name and url on the con site. Gets your name and short bio in the program book. Gets you to sit at a table with other writers and be seen by fans and other people in the biz.

Just with these three facets I've exposed my name/face to the con goers 5 or more times! And I never had to bug anyone directly. See how it works?

Will this have your sale numbers skyrocketing? Probably not. But you will sell. You will get your name out there. You will get recognition. And you can still be your shy old self. Even better, you'll find yourself becoming familiar with many faces and even having friendships bloom. Oh no, you might even be networking! (Run away!)

It's Soft Sell all the way, baby! :)

Gloria Oliver Unveiling the Fantastic


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