Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Notes on Selling Books

I want to sell books in a bookstore. Not somebody else's; mine. I want to have the throngs of bubbling fans, gasping with love for their idol, swooning over the magnificence of literary prose and the author's extreme good looks and oh-how-much-they-think-she-rocks and maybe nominate her for the Entertainer of the Year award just like Stephenie Meyer...
I'm not completely clueless, but I will sell my books one day. I met one author selling her books at B&N this week who got me thinking about the Dos and Don'ts of hand-selling in person. I'm a millenial, perpetually frightened of human-human interaction and much more comfortable on the Internet, so authors and will-be authors, pay attention.
Big shiny things help. Author X had two great blow-up billboard things of her covers that were professional and bling-like. It drew attention to her books and reinforced that she was a Published Author.
Push back a little. This author talked us the moment we walked in from the cold outside because she was right there. I didn't know what she was talking about till I put two and two together. Authors, please put yourself in the Correct Section or at least a little more into the store. In-your-face, not digging it.
Be hip, cool, attractive. The "young" thing is hard to pull off when you're 65. But if you're selling to teens, I'll be honest: it helps to be a twenty or thirtysomething. I have serious ageism problems when it comes to trusting a fifty-six-year-old in a knitted vest with $8.99 about a rocker/model/Judy Blume deal.
If you are an older author marketing to teen readers, dress well and age-appropriate, and bring along a team of drama kids. I'm not kidding. Find a group of drama nerds, pay them $20 to stand with you for two hours and do skits, hand out fliers, prank the bookstore people and act like monkeys because then I will believe you know something about teen life.
Don't love your book. I know your book is the next Big Thing, but book-love comes off as excessive narcissism. Be friendly, ask about me and my interests, tease me about my ugly sweater, flirt with me if it's legal, find appropriate jokes or inappropriate ones that you can pan off as "so dumb," be interesting. If you are, then your book will be.
I'm resisting the temptation that Facebook is, calling my name, promising me that it's so easy to sign up and that it's a social utility that connects you to the people around you... must not click, must not click, must not click or those Ivy League applications might as well be kerfluffel. And the fact that I'm on page 167 of Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel and the whole internet social thing isn't looking good. Nor is Marc, though I can't figure out whether I like him or not. (WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?)


david elzey said...

The "young" thin is indeed hard to pull of when you're 65; the "author" thing is equally hard when you're twenty-something.

Bon chance!

Beth Kephart said...

This was very funny to read; thank you for it. I try hard to avoid such situations as an author; luckily, I'm always more interested in the reader (about whom I know nothing) than my own book (about which I sometimes know too much).

Luckily, I own no knitted sweaters.