Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sell Yourself First

In my almost six years as a writer, one of the most rewarding activities I've done is a book signing. Book signings are a fantastic way for an author to showcase his work and have the opportunity to meet with those who will be reading it. I have been honored and blessed to become acquainted with so many wonderful people who support my work and keep me knowing that what I am doing is worthwhile.

Something surprising I have found along the way, especially when participating in multi-author events, is that some writers don't share my views. They act as if the event is a chore, something they MUST do simply to get sales. Rather than interacting with patrons, they sit docile at their stations, stone-faced, delivering a greeting only if they feel it appropriate at the moment. When they do get a sale, they often give the feeling that they are doing the customer a favor by offering an autograph. There is very little, if any, appreciation involved in the transaction.

For the life of me, I don't understand why any author would convey that attitude toward the very people who are the lifeblood of his career. Why would people want to follow an author who treated them like just another dollar in his pocket? I know I wouldn't! While sales are important for any author, it is my opinion that readers are more important. Without them, what's the reason for our writing? I personally don't see a point in pouring myself into hours of work only to have the finished product collect dust in my garage. If an author hopes to get anywhere in his career, he needs to sell himself before he tries to sell his work--not the other way around. Readers who are made to feel special by an author are more likely to follow that author, purchase his books, and recommend them to others. If a reader likes you, he will be more enthusiastic about your work.

A few tips for your own events:

1) Greet all patrons who come within 2-3 feet of your signing table. Wear a smile, and invite them to browse your work.

2) Don't push for a sale, but rather tell them about the book and let them look through it. Simply let them know you will be happy to sign a copy for them if they are interested.

3) Give a sincere thank-you to everyone who takes the time to stop by, whether they purchase or not. It helps to have some type of printed information about your work for the patrons to take with them. (i.e. postcards, flyers, bookmarks)

I would love to hear what other tips you have, and why you feel you should sell yourself first.

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