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How To Market Your Self-Published Book

Your profits are in your hands

by Fern Reiss

If you want to sell lots of books at a book festival, you need to do more than just show up. If you stand behind your table and wait for people to buy, you might have a long wait. But if you're active and friendly, and stand out from the crowd, you'll sell more books than you can imagine. Here are five sure-fire tips to maximize your sales at book fairs:

  1. JAZZ UP THE TABLE: Most book fairs provide plain uncovered tables on which to exhibit. If you want to sell books, you need to make your booth look inviting. Purchase the nicest, heaviest tablecloth you can afford, in a color that goes well with the cover of your book. Turn your book cover into a poster, and mount on an easel backing. (Most copy shops will do this, at a cost ranging from $10-$80, depending on whether you want black and white or color.)

 Next, think accessories: What's a logical tie-in to the book that would zip up the look of your booth? For my "Infertility Diet" book, for example, I scatter pregnancy-test kits around the table - because they're eye-catching, and people walk over to find out why they're there.

Recently I saw an author featuring a book on setting the mood for meditation: Her booth sported a tiny fountain with pretty rocks, rose petals scattered about, and incense burning. Think flowers, smells, colors, textures--and be creative!
  1. OFFER FOOD: The most successful exhibitors know that the surest way to rope in a potential buyer is by offering them something to eat! Some books lend themselves to food displays. If you're selling a cookbook, consider a few sample treats from the book; if it's a book on travel in Tuscany, try morsels reminiscent of that part of the world. Even if yours is not a food book, you can do creative things with food. For my book series, The Publishing Game I hand out fortune cookies that say, Writers Make Their Own Fortunes. PublishingGame.com Almost no one will turn down food. And once they've eaten your food, most people feel obligated to stop and look at your book.

  3. DISPLAY THE BOOK NICELY: So many book fairs feature tables with sloppy piles of books. If that stack of books doesn't look inviting, it's unlikely that you're going to find buyers. Browse in a bookstore and check out some of their displays. Consider stacking the books inventively; think about purchasing a few small metal bookracks or wooden easels to increase the interest of your display. Or work with the theme of your book. If I were marketing a book on babies, I'd nestle the books in a small wooden cradle with a stuffed animal; if it were a book on gardening, I'd put the books into a wheelbarrow.


  4. ENGAGE CUSTOMERS: So many authors sit behind their stack of books and wait. The best way to sell books is to be proactive. And the best kind of proactive is to ask people a question that doesn't require a yes/no answer. "Would you like to look at my book about pets?" is a bit blah. "Do you have a pet?" is a little better. But, "Which do you like better, dogs or cats?" is a sure-fire winner. In publicizing my Expertizing™ workshops at book fairs, I could ask people if they wanted to find out more about my workshop – if I did, most would say “no.” Instead, I ask authors, "How many books do you hope to sell this year? How much media attention do you want to get this year?" That's a great lead-in to explain the many ways The Expertizing Workshop can help them sell more books and get more media attention. So ask a controversial question, a perplexing question, an inviting question. And keep the conversation going until your customer asks about your book. You're always more likely to make the sale if you're not the one who initiates it.


  5. MAKE THE SALE: It's hard to sell books if you're ambivalent about selling. Once you've captured their interest - once you've explained the book - once you've outlined its benefits, close the sale! Better than asking them if they want to buy the book, assume they want the book. Try something like, "Would you like this wrapped as a gift for someone?" (Don't forget some gift wrap and bows!) Or how about, "If you'd like to buy one for a friend as well, we can ship that for you directly." Sometimes people need a little nudge. Nudge! And don't forget to smile and have fun!

    Fern Reiss is the author of The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days (book promotion), The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days (traditional publishing), and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days (self-publishing). More information on her books, publishing and book promotion consulting, and all-day Publishing Game and Expertizing workshops can be found at http://www.PublishingGame.com., where you can also sign up for her free Expertizing email newsletter on how to get more media attention for your book and business.


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