Sell Yourself, Not Your Book


The stereotype of the introverted writer continues to prevail. Writing is definitely a lonely business, but all the writers I have met are quite open and sociable. And they need to be because that is one way to sell books. So often, readers don’t buy books because of the book, but because they feel a connection with the author. This is especially true when using blogs and social media to promote one’s work.

A writer can’t afford to sit back and let the book speak for itself, no matter how good it is. A book is a product that requires promotion. Spamming people with the book won’t work. An author needs to let potential readers get to know him up to that point where a craving for more of that person is created and readers buy his book. Easy, isn’t it?

I liken self-promotion to commercials. Do you really need to buy toothpaste A instead of toothpaste B? Not really. Almost all toothpastes have the same ingredients, just like a book will either inform or entertain. Toothpaste company A wants you to buy their brand so they make a commercial that makes you think “If I buy toothpaste A, my wife will kiss me more often” or “I’ll be more approachable and gain friends” or “My family will be healthy and that makes me a great mom.” The commercial makes a viewer believe he needs toothpaste A and must buy toothpaste A. How does an author do this? By following expert advice. I have added a new section the Learn More About… page on promoting and selling books.

Who has convinced you to buy something because of their personality? What have you bought because of a salesperson? What makes you connect with an author? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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  1. #1 by self marketing on August 25, 2011 - 2:08 AM

    A very useful blog, yes it is true that self promotions and self marketing are the major routes of the business success.
    but it is also an art tho promote yourself without looking self promotional.self promotion is a necessity to grow their business and grow their career.Self promotion, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves rather looking that you are promoting yourself.

  2. #2 by Tooty Nolan on August 24, 2011 - 6:12 PM

    I’m almost certain that what few books that I’ve sold were sold – not because of their content – but because the purchasers liked the author. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I treat every book sold as a supreme complement.

    • #3 by Patricia Caviglia on August 24, 2011 - 7:50 PM

      I agree. I have sold books to people, who were definitely not interested in YA, because they liked me. And it was indeed a supreme complement.

  3. #4 by broadsideblog on August 24, 2011 - 8:45 AM

    I’m an author of two non-fiction books who spends a lot of her time reaching out to find new readers, whenever and wherever I go. Yesterday I cold-called a store in Burlington, VT to set up a reading (on our trip north to Toronto, where I am originally from, now in NY) and within a few minutes had gotten an enthusiastic response. I recently read in Minneapolis and I was, and always am, very well aware that readers are curious as to who I am “really” — so I have to be on, high-energy, ready for any question or comment.

    I’m naturally a friendly and chatty person, so it’s not a huge stretch and I love meeting readers. I also like meeting book-sellers as their personal enthusiasm can move my book faster off their shelf than an author they’ve never met or met and did not like much.

    I’ve heard some authors read and enjoyed it. But sometimes it’s better to keep the fantasy of who they are rather than their more awkward or less amusing self.

    • #5 by Patricia Caviglia on August 24, 2011 - 5:14 PM

      Thanks for bringing up the in-person sale. Like you, I enjoy meeting readers. I also find it easier to sell myself and my book when I can connect with a reader directly because body language and voice intonation reveal so much about the person I am dealing with. While it can be challenging at times, it is also fun.

      I find it much more difficult to try to attempt to appeal to people when all I have is a 140 word bio, a username and a photo (too often, not a photo of the person!) to work with. From what I’ve read and based on my own successes and failures, it would seem that the best approach is to be me while informing readers and engaging them in conversation.

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