Monday, July 25, 2011

Don't Talk to Me About My Book...

Standing around at a party...conversation begins as new person joins our group. Introductions are made.
Friend A: "And incase you didn't know, Cathy is a famous author!"
Friend B: "Yes, she's PUBLISHED, you know!!"
Me: "Well, erm. Yes, I'm published. Not famous."
New Person eyes me quite quizzically. "Oh. So. You like, put your book on Kindle?"
Me: "Yes. I mean no. I mean, yes, it's available on Kindle. But I'm published traditionally."
New Person: "Good for you. Who's your publisher?"
Me: "OakTara."
NP: "Never heard of them. What's your book about?"
At this point friends jump in and tell New Person, who happens to be a man, all about Luke and Kristin. His eyes begin to glaze over. He's slightly intrigued by the Vietnam War angle, but on the whole, he's pretty bored.
NP: "Cool. I'll have to download it. I don't read romance but hey..."
Me: "Yeah. Okay. Cya."

Well, maybe I didn't say "Cya", but, you know? Painful. It's a good thing I never applied to work at Avon or Mary Kay. I am the WORST salesperson in the world!!
So what should I have done differently with Mr. Skeptical? Should I have challenged him to read my novel and offer to reimburse him if he hated it? Should I have responded with, "Why, yes. My friends are perfectly correct. I AM famous. I am in fact the ONLY Bermudian author to ever get a book published and I have no doubt that my book will be appearing on the NYT bestseller list by the end of the year." That might have been slightly worse than my stumbling over my words and wishing I was anywhere but there...however I'm not really into lying.
I'm definitely not into patting myself on the back, puffing out my chest and telling the world how great I am.
So where's the happy medium?
How do you promote yourself with self-confidence without coming off as a totally self-absorbed idiot?



Bonnie R. Paulson said...

You had me smiling. THanks for that!

For me, I smile at the guy and say it's romance, wanna hear more? Usually they nod but once in a while I get the honest man who says "not really". Love those guys.

Good luck and well done! The book speaks for itself.

Katie Ganshert said...

I think the key is just being authentic and having a servant's heart. I like promotion when it comes from somebody other than the actual author. Which happened here. :)

Cherie Hill said...

I totally agree with Katie. I have a VERY hard time promoting my books to others. I believe the recommendation is much more valuable when it comes from someone who doesn't even "know" you. The ultimate is getting reviews posted online from people you've never met who try to sell the world on buying your book. You have a much better feeling deep inside too because you know the comments and recommendation are authentic.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I think the very thing that makes authors intriguing is out interest in others. Lead with that.

Sounds like it was pretty cool that others brought your book up.

~ Wendy

Catherine West said...

Thanks, guys! I'm just not great at impromptu sales pitches and I think I felt a wee bit intimidated. But yeah, I know if someone's really interested or not, and if they're not, I'm definitely not the kind to talk them into it! Maybe it will get easier over time. I'll have to train myself to be more outgoing I guess!

Richard Mabry said...

I use Jim Bell's line about, "If you want to make money, don't be a writer. Be a greeter at Wal-Mart." Then I direct the conversation, if possible, into the changes in the publishing world. People seem truly interested in how one writes a book, gets an agent, gets a contract, etc. Of course, I do this while subtly mentioning all the books in my series--no need not to take advantage of the moment.

Face it. You ARE famous. Or at least semi-famous. Enjoy it.

Linda Hargrove said...

Cathy, I've felt the same way ... stumbling over my words and not looking very writerly. It's helped me to have one of my nice printed bookmarks or postcards on hand.

And remember the NP doesn't have you under a microscope. Most of the time it's my own social phobia that magnifies the shame in the situation. If you sense the person isn't personally interested in your book, ask them to pass your bookmark (or whatever) on to someone else.

Remember you're not only promoting you, you're promoting your publisher and the Lord. I am published with Moody Publishers. I'm surprised how many Christians say they never heard of them. But when I say they publish Bibles too that gets their attention.

A lot of Christians don't read fiction because they don't even know there is such a good selection these days. So go forth and promote. You'll get better with time. I did.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I've found a different problem cropping up. "The book" is easy for people to talk about (especially at church) so it has a tendency to come up *all the time.* I really appreciate the support and the kind comments, but I also want to talk about something other than my book and the publishing industry. I'm happy to talk about other books. :-) And other people's activities.

I find that it's usually not much use to market directly, person to person. Either the NP is interested, or not. Lots of people do not read at all, and even more do not read my genre. So only the ones who show interest on their own initiative are likely to buy it.

Catherine West said...

Rosslyn, that's a pretty good problem to have! I downloaded Fairer Than Morning the other day and look forward to reading it! Trying to get through all our great WordServer's books!

Linda, those postcard/bookmarks were the best thing I've spent money on so far. I have several in my purse all the time (except that night we were on a beach, so I didn't have my purse!!). If someone is interested, I'll give them one. I even gave one to the gal doing my bone density the other day!! HAHA.

Carol J. Garvin said...

I'm the world's worst salesperson, but since I began attending conferences I've learned the much touted "elevator pitch" can be useful in other social situations. Getting my writing projects condensed into a couple sentences is the hardest part, but, like the bookmarks, the essence of the story is quickly presented before eyes have time to glaze over. If questions are forthcoming I can elaborate, but if not, I'll often ask people what they have been reading, and the conversation moves on. That way I've acknowledged my work but I'm no longer the center of attention, which is much more comfortable for me. I may feel differently when I have published novels, but I doubt it. I always feel embarrassed for a writer who aggressively promotes herself and manages to insert mentions of her book into every conversation.