If you are an author, you know that your books don’t automatically sell themselves. I talk to many authors who are creative writers, and they are happy just to give their books away to family and friends.
I’ve never made it a secret that I write for money. Sure, I give away books to some close friends, family, and to book reviewers, but my goal is to sell books. Last weekend, I signed books at Highland Park Public Library in Illinois, sponsored by East On Central, an arts and literary organization in Highland Park.
I try to take each and every opportunity to talk to potential readers and book buyers and make myself available to answer questions. There is always a lot of foot traffic at libraries on a weekend, so you meet a lot of people.
Often at libraries, while patrons love to speak to visiting authors, they don’t always buy a lot of books, because libraries are places where they can check out books for free. People who are curious about becoming authors themselves often come to library book signings to meet authors. They want to know the how-to’s and what-to-do’s of becoming authors and making publishing contacts.
As one would expect, bookstores have a more targeted audience of book buyers, so that is always a good place to sign and sell books. In my decades of being an author, I have signed books at many major chain stores and also college bookstores. I have spoken there and done workshops there, to draw buyers in.
Many authors I know are stingy with information about how to get published and also about how to get exposure as an author, because they say it took them years of trial and error to learn for themselves. This is true, as we spend decades making contacts and getting kicked around in the publishing world. However, I’ve always been the type of person who believes that if I can help strangers, I feel good about it, so I don’t mind sharing.
It’s always a good idea to have your business cards to pass out book signings along with promotional material about your books, so that people can follow up with you or read about you online or even invite you to speak at organizations they are connected with. Every once in awhile, a stranger that you meet is grateful for your advice and mentions you to someone else who contacts you to speak.
Always put your best foot forward and look professional at book signings. You never know who you’ll meet. You must always prospect for contacts as an author, otherwise you will sit at home staring at a box of unsold books.
Further, sit down and brainstorm for possible events and organizations that would welcome you as a speaker. You need look no further than alumni associations of schools you attended or organizations that you belong to. Ask your friends and family to recommend you as a speaker at the organizations they belong to, too.
Ultimately, I have a rule: Don’t write a book unless you feel there is an audience for it. Always think about who your audience will be before you embark on your writing journey! That’s the best advice I can give. If you don’t have an audience, no one will buy your book.
Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Dotson, Highland Park Poetry.
Copyright 2017 by Charlotte Digregorio.