Are You An Author? Prospect for Contacts!

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.


GetAttachmentThumbnail-7 Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Dotson, Highland Park Poetry.0000000200000003cover25%hi-res00000001

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Copyright 2017 by Charlotte Digregorio.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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8 Responses to Are You An Author? Prospect for Contacts!

  1. I am reading this as I am out promoting my book. There is nothing like personal contact. You must be invested and then do the hard work of promoting and selling. Always carry copies of your book in your car and I carry at least one in my purse. I showed it to a salesperson in a store and she wanted to display it and then she asked me to do a signing. That would be tomorrow, and she is pairing it with a breast cancer event. So always be prepared, be kind, and don’t be afraid to do the hard work of promoting, and you will see results. Charlotte knows this!😇

  2. Paul Beech says:

    A most enjoyable and instructive post, Charlotte.

    My debut collection ‘Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose’ came out from Cestrian Press last year, and I have sold a few copies…“few” being the operative word. My goodness, it’s hard going! I’ve done three joint-guest reading in the past fortnight (and had to brave Hurricane Ophelia for the third one!) without making a single sale, despite enthusiastic applause.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for better luck next time, an English/Welsh bilingual event in Wrexham on 16th November, but my dream of a luxury yacht in Marbella is rather fading…

    Must put more of your good advice into practice!

    My very best – have a good weekend,


  3. Publicity often snowballs, Paul. That’s why it’s good to try anything and everything, and do more of what works!

  4. Dear Charlotte,
    in Italia it’s very difficult to sell books, especially for beginner authors like me.
    The box of unsold books is really scary, but that’s the reality.You need to have energy and motivation. But it is not easy.
    Thanks for this interesting article (I’ll reblog on Memorie di una geisha this afternoon) and your support. Congratulations for the beautiful photo.
    All the best,

    • Thank you, Eufemia, for your kind words, and for your comments on selling books. There are hundreds of thousands of new books published EACH YEAR in the U.S. alone. So, the competition is stiff for sales. It sure does require a lot of dedication to get exposure as an author. But, we authors keep chipping away!

  5. Thank you very much, Eufemia!

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