Thursday, January 26, 2012

Selling Books like a Banker

Before I started writing, I used to sell people their own money back. How? I worked at a bank opening checking, savings, CD’s and other types of accounts for a fee.  If you stop to think about it, this is how a financial institution works. Banks will house your money, and then you have to pay them to get it back, occasionally incurring other wonderful fees that you’re briefed on, but don’t understand and don’t bother to question.

Oh, the stories I could tell you about how customers react when they’re charged fees by a bank. But we’ll save that discussion for another time.

Being employed with a bank was probably the hardest job I ever had. I had to meet and exceed sales goals. I had to hunt down new accounts by visiting business, schools, or whoever had mercy on my banker’s soul and gave me an opportunity to hold a presentation. I worked in a low-income area where new customers weren’t swarming in, begging for a new checkbook and cover that emitted that bank scent I grew to love. (I’ve named the smell “Monetary Plastic Couture”) My work required a lot of determination.

I was trained to sell, sell, and then sell...and did I mention sell? Every morning us Personal Bankers would meet with the Branch Manager to discuss daily goals. We’d have to write the number of accounts we planned to sell in “packages,” i.e.: Checking, Savings, Debit Card, Online Banking, and Credit Card/Loan or other services. No, not separately. All these needed to be bundled together into one customer’s profile. The probability of holding down a customer in his comfy chair after you overwhelmed them with all the bank’s products and services was very low – especially where I worked.

What does this have to do with selling  books, you ask? A lot.  It has to do with marketing and selling your book. I’ve learned that’s an even harder task than selling people their own money.

Much like my job as a banker, an author has to take every opportunity he or she gets to present their work to the public. A new writer’s struggle to sell one single copy may take days or weeks, and you know that royalty from one book isn’t enough to buy a decent cup of coffee these days. Ask yourself this: After all that time spent working on your book, developing characters, plotting stories and pulling out your hair, do you deserve a crappy cup of coffee from some corner store, or are you going to get yourself some of that fancy Starbucks? I know my answer. I’m heading to Starbucks; ergo, I need to sell more books.

By using the sales tactics that were drilled into me in the field of banking, I’m beginning to see more demand for my book. I’m going to share some of the things that I’ve done to gain more exposure in the literary community and gain sales.

Product Presentation:
The packaging and presentation of your book, a.k.a. the cover, is a crucial element in sales. The way your book looks reflects on you as a writer. Don’t ruin your street credit. Your readers need to see a cover that’s pleasant to the eye. If your cover looks like a poorly cut and arranged kindergartener’s magazine collage, chances are people aren’t going to buy it.  Find a friend, a neighbor, or just beg for help with editing images on Photoshop from someone that’s familiar with the software.

Seek Out Your Buyers:
Aside from yourself, whom else did you write this book for? Who would be interested in reading your story? Don’t waste your time posting your Amazon link, book trailer and/or book’s synopsis on sites that aren’t frequented by readers. Join blogs, communities, clubs, and social networks that will give you that five-minute window you have to pitch the sale. Do not underestimate the power of Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and such networking sites.

Market the Product:
1. Develop an author website if you can afford it. Before committing to buy, consumers like to take a close look at the product – you.

1. Make your book nice and shiny. People like things that sparkle. Make it known to everyone how great your ratings are on your social media networks by reposting on your webpage, blog, personal network profiles, and social media sites. It doesn’t mean you’re showing off. Well, maybe a little, but it also means you take pride in what you do and people with good self-esteem and a strong backbone attract more attention than people with poor self-esteem. Google it.

2. Create a book trailer that’s interesting, well edited, visually appealing, with a casual pace and concise. You want to get the point across without too many words in less than a minute and a half. Using video elements and pictures to simulate the idea of what’s between the front and back cover of the book, does guarantee reader interest. It also lets the potential buyer dig into the mind of the author’s perspective of his or her writing. Also, be selective about the trailer’s music. Your best bet is to use a track with no words. Include the book cover, your website and the major purchasing sites that sell your book.

Make Yourself More Social:
1. Being an anti-social hermit wont’ get you anywhere! Befriend bloggers, authors, publicists, your friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s accountant or whomever you know that likes to read or not read.

Have you ever noticed how you can easily fall victim to mainstream marketing? Those “As seen on T.V.” stickers on boxed products really stand out at the check out line in the grocery store. But you may not have the solvency to advertise on television or radio. You do, however, have the ability to get other people talking about your book. This is called Free Publicity and Word of Mouth Advertising. If other people are reading your story and posting reviews, their reader friends are going to want “in” on that great story too. And, trust me, those non-readers are going to want to know what the fuss is about when they see their friends posting and reposting your book’s cover image. You could gain a fan in that non-reader.

1. People love to win things. Hold contests and giveaways with book bloggers you’ve friended. Offering a book or swag (bookmarks, keychains, t-shirts, etc.) or both as a prize will gain reader and blogger interest. Did you know that many readers have a collection of swag from both independent and traditional authors?

2. Hold contests on your own sites and let everyone in your social networking sites know about it. Set up your giveaways with Rafflecopter, which allows you to program entries with points values, depending on what action you would like the entrant to do, such as, liking your author page on Facebook, following your blog or Tweeting about the giveaway. Yes, more free publicity.

3. Accept invitations for reviews and interviews on blogs no matter how small their following. Out of forty followers that Mary’s Book Blog has, maybe three will see the post. That’s three more pairs of eyes that know you exist. Tell Mary to include your links and your trailer on the interview post and offer a small giveaway with the interview to get more visitors.

4. Set up a giveaway on Goodreads. The giveaways are free to set up, and that site is visited by a multitude of readers.

5. Get out and get your feet dirty. That’s right, you’re going to have to go look for the sale. Set up signing or presentations at schools, libraries or bookstores. They’ll be more than happy to have you there because you are an author (insert fist pump here).

6. If you can afford it, buy a $20 Ad Campaign on Goodreads, one on Google Ads and another on Facebook. That’s $60 worth of Ads will get people to visit your websites and discover your book. By the way, the Goodreads Campaign will probably run for about three weeks with $20.

Pitching the Sale:
You thought you were done? Oh no! This is where the real work begins. After you’ve perfected your cover, uploaded your trailer, purchased swag items, talked your head off at presentations and made a bunch of new friends, it’s time to work for your royalties and that Starbucks coffee.

I’m going to reveal a huge secret. We’ll keep this between you and me: In the end, YOU are the product that’s being sold. Yes, your personality is the one that’s going to get you that cup of delicious coffee.

1. Bite your tongue. Your social network has expanded and so has your exposure among the literary world. Now you have a following and your posts reflect who you really are. Be yourself when you post a tweet not pertaining to writing or your book saying how much you enjoy eating with your family at Chili’s. But be wary of tweeting how much you hate John Smith and how you’re going to kill his dog. Negative posts get you negative impressions, and that’s something that people in the literature field don’t want to be associated with. It could ultimately hurt your writing career.

2. Talk to your followers and fans. The rapport you develop with your new author, reader, blogger and friend’s of friends of friends, etc., is going to sell you. They want to know that you’re not just a picture on a website or words on a page. Respond to retweets, tweets, and their facebook posts. Let them know that you know they exist. Overall, thank them repeatedly for their support.

I hope you’ve learned something from my sales advice. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and reading. Be well, beautiful creatures! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

David's Mail Call Poetry

A few days ago, a fan expressed her "love" of  Creatura on my Facebook page. I decided to give her a little gift from my book's hero, David Chios. Quickly it was that the responses to his humble offering grew, and before I knew it, "David" was serenading fan girls with verse. 

"Carly Anne's Chablis" 
Written for Carly Anne Wallace 

Weaved of fine silks and fine wine 
                                                 The Gods adorned Carly Anne so divine
 And I a poor beggar on mine raw knee 
Pleading, suffering, eager to be free 
But what dost freedom imply to a beggar?
Leaving mine Carly Anne to be? 
Never shalst I wander free of mine decree 
And I do attest, dear Carly Anne, this sacrifice to thee 
May mine blood become dry like the Gods' wine of Chablis 
Should ever you never come to be privately for me

 ~ David Chios 

Thank you for reading, and I invite you to get to know David Chios and the rest of the personalities in the first  book of the Creatura Series. 

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