Hand-selling books isn’t for introverts so if that describes you, stop reading now. This article will make you anxious.
Whether you’re hand-selling to bookstore employees so they will, in turn, hand-sell your book or you’re hand-selling directly to readers, you need to be your best extroverted self. That’s because hand-selling your book requires confidence and courage supported with planning and preparation.
You’ll be hand-selling your book at bookstore and book signings at other venues, at book fairs, or when you speak to groups.
When hand-selling, you have one goal: To sell as many copies of your book as possible.
That takes work. Here are a few tips for better hand-selling.
1. Prepare in advance
Whether you’re pumping up the in-store sales team or selling directly to readers, plan in advance what you should say to different types of people. After all, what will get a man to buy a book isn’t necessarily what will work with a woman.
According to her article on WritersDigest.com, when mystery writer Elizabeth Sims puts her book in the hands (tip!) of a man at an event, she says something like, “Moms love this book” or “Is there a woman in your life who might need a gift soon?” When speaking to women, she offers a carefully thought-out one-sentence story description.
Tailoring your pitch to the audience will make a difference in sales, but if you’re like most, you need to think about what will work best for each in advance.
2. Be assertive.
Make eye contact. Smile. Say “Hello.” Ask a question.
Think about it: When you’re walking past anyone selling anything in a store or elsewhere, even when you do your best to pretend you don’t see them, if they say “hello” to you, it’s pretty hard not to stop and say “hello” back, isn’t it?
When hand-selling, you have to take the first step.
You also want to be aggressive about the number of people you connect with, too, as in, “all of them” if possible.
When novelist David Hagberg did a mini-tour of 33 bookstores in 16 cities to connect with the sales staff and sign books already in stores, he spoke to as many floor managers and sales clerks as he could.
Getting aggressive applies to where you’re positioned in the store, too. There’s no question that you want to be in the front of the store by the main entrance, but fantasy author Duncan Lay pushes to be outside the store, not in it.
“Going inside a store means you don’t get to talk to passers-by,” he says on his blog.
3. Stand up.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you need to stand the whole time.
This is so important.
It’s nearly impossible to make eye contact and get people talking to you if you’re not at eye level with them. Unless your goal is to connect with children, you need to be standing to make eye contact.
Stand, don’t sit.
For more tips on book signing success, read “How to sell out at a book signing without being a celebrity,” “Your book signing event tool kit,” and “Author book signing tips.”
Have you mastered the art of the hand-sell? What works for you? Please tell us in a comment.
Tip of the Month
I always share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.
One of my goals for 2016 was to get better at pre-planning this blog’s content.
The solution? An editorial calendar.
Rather than re-invent the wheel, I downloaded and customized HubSpot’s free editorial calendar template. The 10 minutes or so that I spent customizing it so it fit my needs were well-spent. Pre-planning and scheduling has helped me find content holes, saved me time, and made me more productive.
Download the HubSpot blog editorial template today, even if you don’t have time to work with it now, so you’ve got it later when the rime is right.
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