Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reasons your book isn't selling: Failure to toot your horn

Welcome back to Reasons your book isn't selling, where every Wednesday I discuss common mistakes I see authors make that are hurting their book sales. Last time I talked about assuming good books sell themselves.

Today's reason your book isn't selling: Failure to toot your own horn

There are all different types of people who decide to become writers, so I hate to make generalizations. However, the vast majority of authors I meet and interact with tend to be of the introverted  persuasion. Much happier behind a keyboard and 300 pages of printed goodness than a room full of people. Writers also tend to be an insecure bunch, despite the fact that they've accomplished something over half of the American population claims to want to do, but very few every see to fruition.

It's because of this introversion and insecurity that many writers suck rocks at telling people about their books. It took over six months before I discovered that a local mommy friend of mine is also an author. Let's call her Jane. Jane has been writing much longer than me and has a ton more books out there. But Jane never tells anyone about them.

When I got invited to a signing event that was taking place literally down the street from Jane's house, I had to beg her to come with me. And the librarian, who also lives super close to Jane, had no idea there was another author in the area. When mutual friends introduce me to others, they all call me their author friend and are surprised when I tell them that Jane is also an author.

These same in-person tendencies continue to the online world. Jane doesn't ever talk about her books on social media or share blog posts. She doesn't promote her launches or talk up the books she's working on. I have to practically torture it out of her to find out when she is putting out her next book.

When I asked Jane why she doesn't talk about her books more, she simply shrugs her shoulders and says, "I'm not you. I'm not good at that stuff."

So let me say that I get it. I get that I am an abnormal author in that I actually enjoy marketing and I'm an extrovert in every sense of the word. I get that this is all a bit easier for me and I appreciate that for others it isn't as easy.

Too bad.

Yep, I said it.

If all you want to do is write books and put them out there for the couple dozen of committed readers, then that's fine. If you don't care about reaching a larger audience, expanding your reach, or (gasp) actually making money, then by all means, stay tucked away in your author cocoon. But if you'd like to actually have something to report on your annual taxes each year, then it's time to suck it up.

I'm not saying you have to climb the nearest rooftop and start shouting about your books. But you also can't be afraid to talk about them either. If this all sounds like medieval torture, here are a few tips to start small.

1. Claim your status
When you are meeting new people, they are bound to ask what you do. Go ahead and tell them. If you're feeling adventurous, don't stop with the generic "I'm an author". You'd be surprised how many conversations you can start by saying, "I write books for/about_____".

2. Pre-schedule some posts
If social media sounds awful, then ease into it. Use a scheduling program such as Hootsuite. Start with a handful of posts each week. You can go very basic and just do a quick promo post. Some other simple ideas are sharing a favorite review or tying your book into a holiday or timely event. If this feels too spammy to you, schedule an equal number of posts to promote someone else's book. Not only does this spice up your feed, but it earns you some goodwill with other authors.

3. Hand out swag
Okay, this one may feel scarier, but it doesn't have to be. I always carry bookmarks in my purse. This is a great way to give someone a physical reminder if the conversation from tip #1 develops. It's also a conversation starter. If I see someone reading, I'll offer them a bookmark. After all, I already know they enjoy reading and everyone likes getting something for free.

Talking about your books doesn't have to be scary or a huge time suck. But not talking about your books is never a good way to sell more of them.

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