We’ve all experienced it. The depression when potential readers pass us by at a book fair. Our elevator pitch for our fantastic story leaves them cold. They give us that dismissive smile and walk on by.
Here’s some advice from a marketing guy with over four decades of experience selling stuff. You’re doing it wrong.
Spend your face time with qualified prospects. We populate our Facebook fan pages and email newsletters with people who are into our genre. The best among us are constantly evaluating who gets to stay in the tent. They must show an interest in engaging with us. If they don’t, we don’t waste time with them.
And so it goes at in-person events. Your collateral promotional material, your banner displays and the material you put on your table should be your elevator pitch. The most compelling sentences from your blurbs and reviews should be at eye level. Share samples of your stuff, like the grocery stores do, just enough to see if the potential reader likes the taste.
These tactics QUALIFY PROSPECTS. It’s good when people who won’t enjoy your product walk on by. You want to talk to the people who will.
The most important opening line for any interaction is, “WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO READ?” If you know your craft, you’ll recognize authors and titles. Your visitor is giving you a clear sense for whether they will like your stuff by what they tell you they consume. If they are not in sync with what you create, point them in the direction of an author at the event who is a better fit, telling them to make sure the author knows YOU sent the reader their way.
PART OF BEING A CREATOR IS BECOMING AN EXPERT ON THE LARGER LITERARY SPACE. If you can disconnect your ego and your desire to close the sale and focus on what the customer wants, you clear the runway for readers who are most likely to buy. And something else magical will happen. Because the author you recommend will realize you sent them a qualified prospect, some will return the favor.
WE BUY FROM PEOPLE WE LIKE, even if the product might not quite be in our sweet spot. Approach book fairs, conferences, and every personal appearance with the goal of connecting a reader with the right book, not necessarily your book. This vibe alone will attract interest. Your qualifying conversations will tell you if the prospect is worth your face-time investment. Love those who are and graciously POINT THOSE WHO AREN’T INTERESTED TOWARD AN AUTHOR WHO IS MORE IN THEIR WHEELHOUSE. Your attitude toward personal appearances will change. The fear disappears. You will spend less time with prospects who won’t buy and more time with future fans who will.
WELL TOLD TALES FIND THEIR AUDIENCE. Let your signage and collateral position your books in a way that draws people to your booth. Ask the key question, “What do you like to read?” up front. Engage with the prospects in your sweet spot and push the rest toward a fellow author who fits their interests.
In-person events are like speed dating. If you have been in the hunt for any length of time, you can quickly tell if there’s a possible relationship. Don’t waste time on people who don’t get you Focus on those who do