Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Author Events Where You Can't Sell Books


I have an author event this Sunday that I've gone to for the past few years. It's not an event where I can sell books. (It's not even an event that focuses on books. The focus is local businesses.) I have a table to display my books, business cards, and SWAG to giveaway, but I am not allowed to sell anything. Why do I do this? Simple. Being an author isn't just about selling books. It's about sharing what we do and making people into readers.

At this event, I talk to people about writing in general—how I went from idea to book, how I found my agent, how I got published, and what I do on a daily basis. The amazing thing is that most of the people in attendance are non-readers, and yet they find authors interesting. I think it's because authors genuinely love what we do. Sharing my writing career with strangers is so much fun for me. Sure, some of these people take my business cards and order my books. I know because they come back the following year and tell me they bought one of my books and what they thought of it. That's great because of course I love getting sales, but it's not why I go to this event.

It's about making connections with readers and/or turning people into readers. I've also gotten invites to other author appearances each year from the people I speak with at this event. 

So marketing isn't just about selling copies of your books. Keep that in mind when you book your next event.

29 comments:

  1. Couldn't have said it better myself, Kelly. I do a lot of volunteer work where I read my children's book and talk about the different writing phases and creative processes. Both kids and adults are fascinated and it feels good just to be able to talk about what we love to do best.
    I think when you are able to share your passion at any event, whether or not you sell books, it's always to an author's advantage. You are right; people love to hear about books and how they grow from ideas to printed pages.

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    1. That's great, Gina. I love doing readings and/or speaking to kids. They have such great questions and get so excited. I'm always inspired to write afterwards. :)

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  2. So very true! In fact, an event where you can't sell books kind of takes the pressure off in a way. You don't have to feel like a salesman. You can just talk about being a writer, talk about books in general, or share your thoughts on the craft of writing.

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    1. That's a great point, Dianne! No pressure at all. It's just fun.

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  3. Great idea, Kelly. An author should be seen, like any other artist on stage. If you simply stay behind the stage, you're not giving your fans an opportunity to get to know you. It's sort of like going on tour.

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    1. Very true, Diane. I really enjoy these events because I meet so many people and I get to talk about what I love—books. :)

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  4. You're right, it's about connecting with readers in all sorts of venues. I've found the connections pay forward. If a reader likes you they pass along your name to a friend, and so on.

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    1. Yes, they do, and word of mouth is the best kind of promotion we can ask for.

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  5. Like Dianne says, taking the pressure off from sales is a good thing. It can make the event more enjoyable.

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  6. So true, Kelly :) Enjoy the event!

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  7. I admire that kind of philosophy, Kelly. You're right. It's not just about selling books. Being an author is first and foremost about connecting with people.

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  8. Marketing is about making connections and building relationships. Sales come from people trusting your expertise and being invested in you. What a great opportunity!

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    1. (At least, that's what I've learned from all my marketing research in the last year.)

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  9. Great advice, Kelly! Will be remembering your words for ever!

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  10. I've done the same, gone to a few places where I've talked about my writing, but couldn't sell anything. I enjoyed making connections, though.

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    1. Making connections can be fun and lead to more events, so it's well worth it. :)

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  11. I love networking. I have not done a good job of this for writiting, yet. Just need more time to seek out opportunities! Hope the event goes great.

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  12. Hope your event goes great again this year, Kelly! I did an event several years ago, and another cart business where I sold my books. The mission in both was to sell my books but I hated those days when it was about sales, and covering rental fee and all. I loved it when strangers came up to chat about children's books, their kids and my job in writing and publishing. Nowadays, I remind myself not to let the stress of sales take over what I really enjoy doing. Sales are important, but not the most important.

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    1. Exactly. I think we often focus on sales, which is understandable since this is a business, but the other parts of our jobs are so much more fun.

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  13. This is excellent advice for any writer. We do need to remember that it's not all about the sales, we still need that self promotion. If we don't allow others to know how our books come together, or the reasons we write, we can't help writers who are just starting out.

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    1. I love helping other writers. I had plenty of help when I was starting out and I still get help. We have to support each other. I spoke to several young writers at my event last weekend, and it was great. I gave each of them my card and inviting them to email me with questions.

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