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With online marketing dominating book and e-book sales, it’s too easy to forget the best way to sell a book: in person.

In this article you will learn how to stand in front of any group of people and get them interested in your book.

Nothing Beats Real People

With online book sales replacing brick-and-mortar bookstores, much emphasis is placed on the art of online book sales. But nothing beats standing in front of a group and, within minutes, creating an attraction for yourself as an author. You can sell more  books in one hour in front of an audience than you can sell online in a month’s time.

Yet the old style of standing before an audience and reading excerpts from your book no longer works.

Neither does hawking your wares before people care about you.

Does anybody buy a book at a table BEFORE an event, BEFORE they’ve seen an author? Then why place books on view before an author event? It sends the wrong message.

Become the Un-Salesman

When audience members enter an event and see a table of an author’s books and CD’s, they immediately realize that a sales person is about to stand before them. That’s the worst image to project. There’s too much salesmanship in the world. Audiences want entertainment and bright ideas that help them.

First, an author should strive to make him or herself interesting. After that first spark of interest has ignited into a flame of curiosity, only then will audience members care what an author has to offer them.

Authors should make sure that meeting planners have a table for them (either at the front or the back of the room, depending on the author’s preference).  But the wares should be hidden under the table or covered by a cloth. Only when the author is finished with his or her presentation should the products come out.

5 Tips to Sell to Any Audience

It’s tempting to place in your introduction that you have authored books. But again, that tells an audience that you are a salesperson. Save that for later. It’s best to create a self-deprecating, humorous introduction for yourself. Send a signal to the audience before you even get up on stage that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Make fun of yourself. Show the audience that you are no better than them. You may have wonderful information and stories to share, but the audience needs to see a little bit of them in you so they can relate to you from the get-go.

Your Opening

Audience members develop instant impressions of a speaker. That’s why it’s best to use those first moments in a presentation to acknowledge what came before you. Did something unusual happen in the room? Someone get an award? Make a funny joke? Talk about a problem? If so, make reference to that with a helpful hint, an acknowledgement that you are paying attention to the world around you. You care about more than just yourself.

Tip #1 Talk About the Journey

Don’t talk about your book. Not yet. Get the audience to lose themselves in the story of your journey that led to your book. Or about a character in your book with an amazing story. Pique their interest with a story with a beginning, middle and an end. A hero and a villain. A dramatic arch that leads to a climax and resolution. That’s what gets people’s attention. That’s what they remember. That’s what makes them want to learn more and spend more time with you — even after the event is over.

Tip #2 Use Storytelling Tools

You’re a writer, so you ought to be able to tell a good story. Use all the great tools of storytelling to involve your audience in much the same way people get involved in a movie. Tom Wolfe’s “new journalism” tools work best: scene-by-scene construction; dialogue in full; third person point of view; and the use of status details to make stories come alive.

Tip #3 Use Humor and Passion

Nothing works better to involve audiences in your story than the use of humor. Don’t make jokes. Instead, show the irony. Use the contrasting element of humor to get your audience to laugh at various points. It keeps them from losing interest.

Tip #4 Books Come Out

Only near the very end should an author introduce the concept that he or she has a book for sale. Use phrases such as “If you enjoyed this and want to learn more…” or “I’ve only skimmed the surface.” Hold up your book, explain that you will be at that table (point to its location) in a few moments when you are done. Tell the audience what the cost is and how you accept payment (credit card machines are a necessity these days). And here’s an idea: Show them how to use your book: “This is a great book to put by your bedside and read one short story every night” or “This book is for those times when you want to curl up and escape the real world.” Help the audience picture themselves with your book.

Tip #5 End on an Upbeat Note

Don’t end with the sale. The sale pitch comes after the climax of your story but before you conclude your talk. End with something uplifting that ties up the theme of your story. End with a funny line that leaves them laughing. Or a meaningful idea that gets them thinking. Your ending is crucial.

Bonus Tip – Give Something Away

As an inducement to get them to come to your table, offer something really neat to audience members for free. Something they want. The important thing is to get them to come to you. If someone tries to hand it out for you, don’t let them. The idea is the audience has to do a little work by visiting you.

Remember that most people make impulse buys based on emotion. Why do people buy 99-cent songs off iTunes? Create those same impulses in your audiences by doing all of the above. People buy books on impulse the same they buy songs. Buying habits have changes, so authors can’t expect to use the old methods to sell anymore.

What do you think? What ideas do you have to sell books to people that work?


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