Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Seven Top Selling Secrets

Decatur Book Festival
Decatur Book Festival (Photo credit: The Suss-Man (Mike))
One aspect of being a writer and an author that I initially hated and feared was selling and marketing my books.  In the beginning I was one of those people who said, "I can't sell anything."  However if you produce a product, eventually you want to share it with others and unless you can afford to give it away, you will need to learn how to best promote and sell it.  I've written about this many other times but as I continue to gain insight into the best way to do this, I love to share it with others so that you too can be successful at selling your work.  The concepts that I've learned from selling books, are useful in many other situations, so whether you are a writer or artist or an inspirational speaker, you can apply these principles to your work.

  1. Know who your audience is.  I write two kinds of books.  Wyatt the Wonder Dog books, are picture books with a lesson and The Call is an adult motivational book.  My children's books appeal to parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors.  My adult book, is written for women who are interested in determining their passion and following it.  To be successful, I need to sell in an environment where I can find my audience.  
  2. Know what your audience wants.  I've found that you have to be sensitive to the focus, the purpose of the audience. I've participated in quite a few school festivals where I've been a vendor and sold books which seems like the perfect environment for children's picture books. In fact, I've found that parents and kids are more focused on festival/carnival type activities than buying books. They want to play games, win a cake in the cake walk. buy junk food and get their face painted. If you are going to participate in this type of festival, you need to have something at your booth that appeals to kids and draws them in. Simply displaying your wares and waiting for the sales to happen isn't going to work.
  3. Have a visually appealing set up.  Do something that attracts attention and is engaging.  Just having a few books stacked up, or brochures laid out is not enough.  There needs to be a sense of abundance at your booth.  If products look scarce, people don't feel it's worth their while to stop.  They can see from a distance the one book you are offering and check it off their list.  Is there something they can touch?  Can they flip through the book?  Can they see how they might package the book with a a puppet and tie it up with a bow for a gift?  At my latest vendor booth, I packaged my three children's books together and tied a big Christmas bow around them and displayed them on a stand.  It was easy and an instant holiday idea.
  4. Tell a story. Everyone loves a story and it is stories that sell products.  No one buys a book just for the story between the covers. Readers like to know the story behind the story.  How did you come up with the idea?  Is the main character like you or someone you know?  What other interesting things can you share about the book and how it is used by others?  Engage your customer by showing the features of the book.  I like to point out my favorite illustrations.  I point out the information at the back of the book that can help parents and kids learn more from the book.  Which leads me to the next point....
  5. Develop a relationship with your customer.  Don't just be interested in getting them to buy your product.  Ask yourself, "What does this person need and how can I help them?"  This is the secret to how I got past my fear of selling.  I stopped thinking of it as selling and started thinking of it as helping.  Although I have a goal of selling books, my top priority is how can I help each individual I meet.  Sometimes I help by listening to their story and making suggestions.  Sometimes I help by telling them how I started writing and publishing books because they mention that they'd like to write.  Sometimes I help by suggesting other products, books, blogs, conferences or authors  that they could benefit from.  In other words, selling  my book is secondary to helping meet their needs.  Zig Ziglar said, "You can have anything you want if you just help enough people get what they want"  and I find this to be true everytime.
  6. Create a package where people feel they are getting more for their money.  I can sell one book or I can sell all three as a package and give a discount.  People are just naturally drawn to not only getting a deal, but getting more, especially where there is a connection or theme.
  7. Give something away to everyone.  Even if someone does not purchase a book, I try to have giveaways that I can share.  I've partnered with a local doggie boarding and daycare business and they give me doggie treats and coupons for their business to pass out.  You can give away bookmarks, coloring sheets for kids, a brochure... the list is endless.  What I don't find to be helpful is to have a bowl of candy on the table.  It doesn't say anything about what is special about you and your product.  Be unique and relevant with your give-aways.  I also usually have something in reserve to give something away as part of the conversation that I have, not just something to grab and go from the table. 

Well there you have it.  My seven selling secrets that I've gleaned from a few years of marketing and selling my books, speaking progams and coaching sessions. Would you add anything to the list?  What have you learned about selling your product? 

Want to learn more about goal setting and how to Be Do Have, even with a busy life?  Join me for a free teleseminar on February 19th with Jen McDonough!  Details are here:  Teleseminar

Want to spend an entire day learning more about following your passion and making your goals happen?  Attend the Called Woman Conference  in March and listen to an impressive line-up of speakers who can teach you how to take your dream to reality.  Space is limited so sign up today!!

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  1. Lynne, this information is invaluable! I think, instinctively, I managed to implement (and, what is my "i" word attachment?) most of these today in the book signing at Wellspring Treasures. By having the right "look" to the table, the willingness to engage in conversation about the book, to give advice when asked (one wanted to know about my experience with publishing), and to just tell, in personal terms, what the story contains, served to sell many on purchasing the book.
    I will be sharing your advice to Facebook and Twitter, my friend!
    Hope to see you on Sunday!

  2. Very good practical tips! And so nice to have them from someone who has "been there, done that." Thanks for thinking to share these, Lynne.

  3. Good post Lynne. I remember the Festival with Deanna. She taught me a lot just by watching her in action. I agree about the festival goers, though, they were there to have fun - not buy books. Can't wait until the Called Woman convention.
    Debbie Malone

  4. @Martha--glad your book-signing went well! I must make it to one soon.
    @Diane---miss you Diane-would love to hear what you've been up to1
    @Deborah--I learned from and wrote about Deanna too! That was an eye-opener.