Hey You! Wanna Buy My Book?! You! YOU! BUY MY BOOK! Stop! Don’t Run Away!

We are guilty.  It’s a huge mistake to make, and one that is very simple.  Once we’ve published a book, we want to spend the next day, month or week just talking about it to every person imaginable.  It sounds like people are interested, and it seems that there will be success, and most of the time, there is that initial purchase of a few books.

Great idea right?  So, we try a bit harder, and we bring the whole promotion thing (whatever that might be to us) and we badger people to buy our book, because gosh-darn-it-all we worked hard on this book, and if we admit it to ourselves or not, we spent time, and money on it and we want to have some thing to show for it.  After all it is our book, and we want people to buy our book…. which leads to a problem, and a mistake.

Have you ever worked in retail before?  It’s not easy.  For one thing you often have to push something on people that they might not want to have.  In the weeks before the holiday season most people have to buy something for someone, so they do.  It is sort of like that with a book. It has a lifespan, and there are only certain times that people will go out and purchase a book, and that includes any books we writers publish.

The mistake some writers make is simple. They want to make sales year round with several books, and they want something to happen all the time.  Success is temporary and we often have to consider other methods of creating buzz for our book.  It doesn’t help if we are desperate to make a sale, and it doesn’t help if we look at every person we see as a potential meal ticket.

This is true with any author, but I would like to share a personal experience.  I was at my local bookstore and I know of many authors who come in and share their books.  Most sit there and wait for you to come and see them, but there was this one author who, by his pushing of his book, made me think hard about the mistake he was making.  I was interested enough to go over, but this author pushed his book.  He told me about his dream to be the next J.K. Rowling, and how he wanted to sell hundreds of books that evening.  He was all ready to sign the book I was looking at, and he said it was a fantastic book and that I had to read it.  Then came, what I felt was a mistake. He told me that “I am going to personalize your book, and then you can go and pay for it up at the cash register.  I know you’ll like my book and will buy it.” Well, I didn’t get the book.

We are all guilty of this — maybe not to that extreme — but we are all guilty of pushing something on a person, not just another sale or another reader, but another person.  We might argue, as this author did, that we have passion, but part of a good sales pitch is making people see you as a writer and as a person, and not someone who only cares about their wallet.  In the situation I described above, more people would have purchased the book or at least looked at it more closely if the author had not pushed people to buy the book. There is a reason that there are self-promotion tools like blogs and other social media, and he could have made more sales.

There is a fine balance between selling our books and creating a readership.  If we make the mistake of thinking only about dollar signs, then word gets around.  That is not what we want to have happen to our books, and we also don’t want to be labelled as the greedy author.