Tip #1: Make Eye Contact
|Look into my eyes. Buy my book|
Tip #2: Get Your Book in Their Hands
Humans have a lot of really strange tics in their psychology. One of those is that something becomes more real to them if they pick it up and handle it. Author Blake Hausladen made particularly good use of this tactic by handing anyone who stopped at his table a copy of his book Ghosts in the Yew. Once someone actually touches your book, you're that much closer to getting them to take it home.
|Having a pretty book cover helps, too.|
Authors are masters of wordplay, but this has to be a part of your sales pitch if you're ever going to get copies off your table and into the hands of eager readers. A successful hand seller won't ask, "so, are you interested in a copy?" when someone is holding his or her book. Instead, that author will ask, "so, would you like one copy or two?"
|Oh god, what do I say, what do I do?|
Tip #4: Be Visible, Be Personable
The first thing you have to do if you're going to sell copies of your book is to make sure people see it, and see you. It sounds simple, but a lot of choices can affect how many potential buyers you get to interact with in any given location. If you have a table, for instance, where is it located? In the back corner of the dealer's hall where the lighting is bad and the crowds are thin? Or are you in the hallway on the way to the food court, where everyone is going to have to walk past sooner or later? If no one sees you, then you might as well not be there at all.
Also, break down as many barriers between you and the people you're trying to sell to as possible. Putting yourself on the other side of a table makes you harder to approach; it gives you an air of being someone apart from the potential reader. So while you shouldn't obscure your table by blocking your books, you should come around and talk to people. Shake hands, engage, and be friendly. People are much more likely to help you out by buying a copy if you're nice to them.
Tip #5: Have a Gimmick
Ever wonder why it is every business has a logo, a mascot, or some easy way to identify their products? It's because sales gimmicks work. People who claim they're nothing but cheap tricks might be right, but gimmicks are cheap tricks that make you more recognizable and which do at least some of your marketing for you. Paul Erickson, author of the parody The Wobbit, comes to conventions dressed as a Bilbo look-alike, complete with curly wig, furry feet, and the one ring around his neck. What are you doing to get noticed?
|I have a high-caliber gimmick, myself.|
Perhaps the most important thing you can do as an author is to give something to everyone. Even if you don't make a sale, perhaps because someone has no spare cash on them at that moment, make sure you give them a piece of swag. A bookmark advertising your novel, a post card, a business card, a free pen; anything that makes someone remember you positively is a chance to make a sale at a later date. If nothing else that person might get curious, wondering at what point they met an author at the convention they were at, and check out your book or website online. The more seeds you plant, the better your chances that something will grow out of it.
As always, thank you for stopping by the Literary Mercenary. If you'd like more information about the other authors mentioned here, check out Blake Hausladen's website, Rook Creek Books, and Aimee Kuzenski's homepage here. If you'd like more information about what yours truly is up to, follow me on Facebook or Tumblr, whichever you prefer. Lastly, if you want to see more of what the Literary Mercenary has to offer then spread our links, leave some comments, and feel free to leave your two cents in the donation jar in the upper right hand corner. Seriously though, do it.