Sunday, May 30, 2010

"A List" Oprah Authors and the Rest of Us

It isn't hard to feel inadequate, especially when you aren't an "A list" Oprah author with a big established following. People don't show up to an event, journalists or editors don't get back to you, no one responds to your posts on social networks, stores drag their feet about getting your book on the shelves--sometimes there seems no end of mental set backs in book marketing.

How do you get people to notice your book without being cheesy in today's world where many people now have the attention span of house flies?

At a writers' conference last year, a participant asked one of the presenters, Brenda Gurung, what to do about the "dreaded bookstore appearances when few people or no one shows."

A bookstore signing is about the people who do show up, she'd answered. People come to the events to get something out of it for themselves, so find out what the participants expect. Greet them individually, shake hands, and connect with them. Address their questions and try to deliver a presentation geared for them. (Of all the presenters at this conference, I remember Brenda vividly because she shook my hand and seemed truly interested in my expectations.)

I once posed a similar question a few years ago to Kathleen Flinn author of The Sharper Your Knife the Less Your Cry and she told me to keep in mind the bookstore is your customer. When no one shows, use this "opportunity" to talk about your book to bookstore employees. She confessed she'd even had it happen to her at a big name bookstore. (And if you brought snacks for your presentation, it's always good to leave the leftovers for booksellers to enjoy.)

My best advice when marketing a book and doing events is to be humble, grateful and no matter how many people attend your event always remember to say "Thank you" to the store employees and people who did attend.

A publicity expert once mentioned how often authors forget those two important words when marketing books. A hand written thank you note is always appreciated. Remember these are the people selling your book.

One final note is to be enthusiastic about your book no matter how many people show up. Genuine enthusiasm can't be faked, isn't a temporary response and it can be contagious. Keep your eye on the big picture. Perpetually enthusiastic people know they have a great weapon against those inadequate nagging feelings that pop up when few or no one shows for an event.

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