Sunday, March 9, 2008

BOOK PROMOTION 101 - From the Stakeout to the Kill (Or: Secrets from a Self-Promoting Slut)

Okay, here’s the deal. We have to promote ourselves! There’s only one person who knows the book and thinks it’s the Greatest Story Ever Told; and that person is the author. I have no shame when it comes to promoting, selling or getting in someone’s face (or dinner plate) to sell my book.

The first thing I did after my cover was designed was to design and make a bookmark. It was easy. All I had to do was set my margins on my word document to the size of a normal bookmark (2”x7”) and then start typing….In this laugh-out-loud memoir, Dodie Cross…yada, yada, yada. You’d a thought I had just been awarded the Pulitzer by the way I bragged. But, why not? Whose going to walk up to you and say: “Hey, I read your book, and it wasn’t a ‘Laugh out loud.’”

Next I called around and got some quotes on 500 bookmarks; some prices were higher than my mortgage payment, some companies took six weeks to deliver. Then I found Office Depot. They were fast, did the work in-house, and the bookmarks turned out lovely! Then I began my attack:

The Stakeout: Every time I left the house I made sure I had at least 50 bookmarks stuffed into my purse. The second I saw a straggler, a woman sitting alone, two or more women together, or husband and wife, I began reaching into my purse. “Hi,” I’d say, giving my best local author smile, “I’m a local author and this is a bookmark for you.” “Oh, thanks,” most would mutter as they haltingly accepted it, hoping I wasn’t a rabid cult member trying to lure them into my church.

The Assault: I can’t tell you how many times my cheapo little cards sold a book for me. In restaurants: I’d scope out the room looking for happy faces—crinkles around the eyes shows a propensity for laughing; women chattering over a glass of wine (I always approach drinkers, they’re happy people). I’ve left the restaurant with two people trailing me to my car for an on-the-spot purchase. I suspect it might have looked like some sort of a drug-buy, but hey, you’ve got to market at any cost!

* On airplanes: I walk the aisles looking for women reading. They’re easy prey. “Hi,” I say brightly as I check out the name of the book they’re reading. “You look like you’d enjoy this type of book,” as I insert a bookmark into their book. There’s really no way to avoid a sales pitch on a plane. Where are they gonna go to get away from you?
* At the post office: Lines of women, just waiting to get their minds off of the dreary duty of picking up “held” bills. I think they’re the easiest marks. They have no book with them; they are bored beyond endurance; and their eyes light up when I tell them that the back of my bookmark is “for women only.” Then I lurk just outside the door, knowing I’ve interested a few of them, and sure enough, I have captured at least one to three bored housewives longing for some excitement in their lives, and honey, I tell them, this book will do it. Once I ran out of bookmarks before the line of women ran out, and I actually had a lady look ticked off. “Where’s mine?” she asked.
* Doctor’s offices: Another sure-fire captive audience. They’re all reading; either books or magazines left over from the pterodactyl period or boring health leaflets. “Hi,” I say, giving them the “local author” bit, “I’ll bet this book might be more interesting than reading about the heartbreak of seborrhea and psoriasis.”

Coming in for the Kill—The Guarantee: “This is a woman’s book,” I tell them. “Very funny, fast reading, and if you don’t laugh out loud I’ll refund your money.” “Oh!” some would reply, suddenly interested. “Well, gee. Okay. Um, where can I get it?” they’d ask while turning the card over and reading the hilarious synopsis I devised to trap such hold-outs. “Well, if you’re interested in saving some money in shipping and handling costs, I have copies in my car for just your type of smart shopper. Plus, I can autograph it for you if you purchase it right now.” I do believe I have sold more from my trunk than from my website.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this airy persiflage is: don’t be a bunch of nattering nabobs of negativism. Get out and be a self-promoting slut!