Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How Do You Sell Books? Alec Baldwin Has The Answer

Being an author is a tough racket, right? You have to get out there, find leads, and convince people they need your stories in their life. You need to find readers who aren't a fan of your genre, and make them a fan. You need to find people who don't read, and make them want to read your book. Every conversation, every social media post, is an opportunity. An opportunity for you to close the sale, get your book out there, and get yourself another satisfied customer.

Alec Baldwin explains it better than I can, so I'll let him give you the talk.

That is Baldwin's only scene in the film Glengarry Glen Ross, and he was nominated for an Oscar for that speech. What's more interesting, though, is that people will have one of two reactions to that scene. The first is, "fuck you, who are you to tell me how to do my job?" The second, and the one that is far more useful, is, "fuck yeah, let's go close some goddamn sales!"

If You Can't Sell Your Book, Who Else is Going to Sell It?

When it comes to book sales, there are a lot of things you can blame. You can blame the market for pushing your genre to the bottom of the pile. You can blame search engine algorithms for not putting you in the front page. You can blame readers for not putting up reviews, or you can blame your own introverted tendencies that keep you from getting out there and hitting the bricks.

In the end, though, none of that makes any difference. The only question is are you selling books, yes or no?

You might call them aggressive sales tactics. I call them shock and awe.
Look at yourself as if you were a publisher (because in a lot of cases, you are). Are you a good risk? Good risks are people with built-in audiences, who make regular sales, and who produce content that can be marketed. Note that how "good" your book is doesn't come into play, unless we're talking about the number of 4 and 5-star ratings you get, because quality is subjective. Difficulty, struggle, these are things that are about your perspective, and your feelings.

Sales are objective. Did you close? If you didn't close, how do you expect to keep doing this?

Take A Lesson From The Master

If you haven't read anything by Blake Hausladen, go check out his Amazon page. Don't keep reading waiting to see where I'm going with this, go check him out. Now.

Did you see his books? Good. Now, what would you say if I told you he shows up to every convention he attends with a case of books, and when he goes home all he takes with him is the case? You're probably want to know how he does that, and how you can do it, too.

It's simple. Find people waiting to give you their money, and take it.
It's simple; he sells. Blake doesn't just stand behind a table, waiting for someone to glance his way. He calls out, and gets people's attention. He shakes hands, and starts conversations. He doesn't say, "would you like to buy my book?" he says "how many copies do you want?" He makes certain that no one walks away empty handed, and he does his absolute best to make sure everyone remembers him, and his book. You know, all the stuff I mentioned in Tips For Hand Selling Your Book. He also maintains his presence online, ensures people see his books, and builds his audience. He knows that writing the book is just the first step. If he wants to stay in the game, he's got to sell as many copies as he can, to everyone he meets. And, sometimes, he'll even sell two at a time.

That is the sort of effort it takes to sell books, and a lot of the time authors really aren't ready for that kind of slap in the face. Especially if they're still drained from the writing portion of the job. However, much like going to war, it's either stand up and shoot, or lay down and die.

And while we're on the subject...
And, since I made it through this whole post without one pitch, I figured I'd put it near the end. If you're a fan of visceral stories, steampunk, noir, and books that make you tear up a bit, your library will be incomplete until you check out New Avalon: Love and Loss in The City of Steam. The first two stories are free to read, so click the link, and take a look. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

All right folks, thanks for stopping in and checking out this week's Business of Writing post. If you'd like to help keep this blog going, but I didn't manage to sell you on getting a shiny new book, why not stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page? As little as $1 a month can make a big difference, and keep the content flowing your way. Also, you'll get some sweet swag, like the book I just mentioned. Lastly, if you haven't done it yet, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter to get my latest updates with no waiting.

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