Are You Making the Most of Your Promotional Opportunities?

    Are You Making the Most of Your Promotional Opportunities? 1024 576 Reader Views

    By Award-Winning Author, Gary D. McGugan

    Independent bookstores, chains, and cultural outlets offer writers opportunities to show our books and generate sales. Whether they’re called author signings, author events, or store promotions, these exposures are excellent opportunities to boost book sales.

    Promotional activities for my 6 titles focus on in-store promotions. You won’t find my name on the NYT best sellers lists yet, but two of my books finished in the “top 10” among Ingram Spark suspense/thriller titles, and another two novels are in the “top 30” for 2022.

    Let’s establish one critical reality about in-store events. If you envisage your book signing will look like some of those photos you’ve seen of celebrity celebrations, with lines of people extending out the door and around a block to buy your book, cancel that thought! Unless your name is Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Louise Penny, or some social media personality, excitement at your event will probably look very different.

    Over the past five years, I’ve taken part in over 200 author store events and learned an important lesson early. Let’s suppose I sit at a table with a very appealing display of my 6 novels and wait for customers to approach me. In that case, I’ll surely have a solitary day and leave the store’s inventory essentially intact. Clearly, that’s not our goal.

    From my experience, authors must take ownership of the promotional experience and invite potential readers to take part.

    First tip? During an event, I never sit down. Instead, I stand behind, beside, or in front of my display and greet passersby. I start with a smile and a cheerful hello, followed by something like, “May I take a moment to introduce myself and my books?”

    Most people reply, “sure,” or “what kind of books?” or “who are you?”

    I then launch my 30-second “elevator pitch.” If you’ve spent time in the business world, you know I’m referring to that succinct, informative, and appealing message you’ve polished with repeated rehearsals to summarize in 30 seconds why your listener should invest more of their time in your message.

    In reply, some passersby will tell you they’re not interested or too busy. But if your 30-second elevator pitch is good, it may surprise you how many people engage in a pleasant chat. Some will take the plunge and give you and your story a try. As you sign copies for those who buy, a few will even thank you for stopping them and introducing yourself and your work!

    But good promotions need more than an elevator pitch. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind if you want to optimize success:

    1. Buyers don’t need to “like” you to buy, but no one buys from someone they dislike. Remember to keep conversations brief, respectful, professional, and focused on your stories.
    2. Treat your interaction as a promotional opportunity to help your prospective buyer learn more about your book(s). Some will decide to buy. Others will pass on the opportunity for a variety of reasons. Don’t press for a purchase, but don’t be shy about asking if they’d like to buy a copy!
    3. Leave prospective customers with something they can use to purchase a copy later. (I give every person I meet a business card with my book titles, name, website, and email address.)

    Displays and promotional materials also boost your in-store sales success. As your budget permits, consider impactful banners that feature you and your books. Bookmarks or other promotional items can also highlight your book covers and website information. (I always leave bookmarks with the store’s cashiers to distribute.)

    Finally, use slower periods or gaps in store traffic to meet and cultivate a relationship with staff in the store. These folks can be valuable allies. If a store stocks your book regularly, its team can guide prospective buyers to your books when you’re no longer there when customers ask for a recommendation in your genre. If the store doesn’t stock your books, staff can help persuade management to try your titles or encourage them to invite you back again.

    To make every promotional opportunity a success, plan store events early and pay almost as much attention to event strategy and details as you devote to the plot of your excellent story!

    About the Author

    Writing started for Gary D. McGugan after a 40-year career in the world of business. He’s worked in supermarkets, sold appliances, distributed motorcycles, launched an automobile dealer network, and provided financing to help businesses grow. Every industry was very different from the other. Each company had a distinctive culture and character, but all were units of large corporations with operations around the globe. Travel has always been a large component of his business roles and he’s now visited more than 650 towns and cities in more than fifty countries for either business or leisure. Experts say we should write about things we know best. In Gary’s case, those subjects are business, travel, and people. As an author, his goal is to entertain readers around the world — one at a time.


    Website:                     https://www.garydmcguganbooks.com
    Monthly Blog:           https://www.garydmcguganbooks.com/rendezvous-blog
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    • Tom Locke

      Great stuff Gary. One of the other things I do for special times (e.g. the holiday season) is have some of my books gift wrapped. People are always looking for stocking stuffers that are ready to go. Given my book is on the music we or our parents grew up with, it fits well with many people.

    • Tom Locke

      Great stuff Gary. One of the other things I do for special times (e.g. the holiday season) is have some of my books gift wrapped. People are always looking for stocking stuffers that are ready to go. Given my book is on the music we or our parents grew up with, it fits well with many people – http://www.mitstories.com

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