Yes, I’m going to say it again—personality sells books. If you doubt it, begin a campaign to engage more people in conversation about your book and see what happens. Talk to people at a bus stop about it, show it to folks who are waiting in line at the grocery store, bring it up at business meetings and social events where appropriate, share it with members of the congregation after church Sunday. Your potential readers who meet you in person are more apt to buy your book either now or in the future.
I read the results of a survey recently where authors and publishers were asked, “What’s the best form of promotion?” The largest percentage responded that they sell more books through personal contact. The thing is, readers want a relationship with their authors. People buy certain books based on the author’s credibility and they are somewhat loyal to those authors they know something about. If they meet you and like you, all the better. In fact, some readers get a thrill out of purchasing a book that the author autographed right in front of them.
There are many ways to become known—through an active blog that reflects your personality and expertise, for example, through social media, through a website and podcasts that express your personality and so forth. Even your articles and stories in appropriate publications carry weight with your readers and often help to sway them to purchase your book.
The most successful mode of promotion, however, is through personal appearances where your audience gathers. An author who decides not to pursue the personal approach when promoting his or her book, is an author who probably won’t sell many books.
Here’s a 10-ingredient recipe for selling more books through your personality:
1: Hone your public speaking and communication skills by joining a Toastmasters club and participating for several months. Or take a speech class at a local college. If your book is fiction, poetry or a children’s book, consider getting involved in a storytelling group. This will also do wonders for your fear of public speaking and your confidence level.
2: Practice, practice, practice. If you don’t feel ready to address your audience, yet, ask friends to gather and allow you to present your material. Give presentations in the security of your Toastmasters club. Take on jobs and volunteer for committees that require speaking in front of groups. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about your book or speaking on another topic at first. The point is to become more comfortable and confident in front of an audience.
3: Locate speaking opportunities in your community and beyond. Start close to home and then branch out to other cities and states, if feasible. The easiest types of speaking opportunities to get are generally those for civic organization meetings (Kiwanis, Optimist, etc.). Program directors are always on the lookout for interesting speakers for their weekly meetings.
4: Create speaking opportunities. Approach organizations, schools and/or corporations related to the theme of your book and ask to be placed on their program agenda. Or help them to design a program for their members, students, attendees
5: Book signings are not passé. It’s true. The average author doesn’t generally attract many people to bookstore signings. However, you might generate quite an audience when doing a book signing at a busy coffee house, pet store, hobby shop, cupcake bakery, sporting goods store, children’s store, for example, depending on the theme/genre of your books and the effectiveness of your publicity.
6: Develop workshops related to the theme of your book. A great way to address your audience is through classes, courses and workshops. If your book is conducive to this sort of presentation, consider engaging in it as a way to meet your readers face-to-face and getting to know them. Not only will they learn from you and buy your book, you will have the opportunity to learn volumes from them. Feedback from your readers is priceless. Use what you learn from them in your presentations, blog, articles and future books on the topic.
7: Take your book to book festivals. A book festival is a great place to meet authors who may have never heard of you or your book. Be prepared to talk about the benefits or reader value of your book to numbers of people. Have attractive handouts and give them away generously. Also have a signup sheet so you can collect email addresses of those people who are interested in the topic or genre of your book. A follow-up email is a great way to keep potential customers from forgetting you.
8: Apply to speak at conferences related to the theme or genre of your book. For the most part, you must seek out opportunities. Especially at first, program directors or conference organizers do not come looking for you—until you have proven yourself over and over again. Conducting a workshop or giving a presentation or keynote speech at a conference attended by your readers can give your book a huge boost.
9: Be creative. Have a booth at a wine festival, the county fair, flea market, youth sporting events, etc. Set up a table outside the parameters of a Sunday farmers market. I know an author who did this. He gave his humor book to those who purchased a glass of lemonade for $10.
10: Speak while traveling. Before you take off, research opportunities in the cities you will be visiting and arrange for presentations, signings, radio/TV interviews and so forth.
Of course, publicity for any of these activities must be well-planned, widely distributed and on-the-mark. Not only will this help to attract more people to the event, the publicity will serve to put your name and the title of your book out there in front of more people. You might get 15 or 115 to show up, but your message might reach an additional 500 or 1,000 or more potential customers.
Continue to promote the activity afterward with pictures from the event, a report about the success of the event, etc., and reach even more people.
There are many ways to entice potential readers to buy your book. But the common denominator for achieving the most success seems to rely on your personality. First, produce a good book that has a solid audience. And then go out and meet your readers using these and other ideas.