Summer is right around the corner, and we’re finally starting to thaw out from the winter we’d thought would never end. Summer means you’ll be among the masses more frequently, and more opportunities will present themselves—opportunities to promote yourself and sell more books. It’s time to kick up our marketing and branding efforts.
I wrote an article over a year ago titled “Don’t Do That!” This article is a reminder of what not to do as you step up your promotional game.
As you go out this summer, you will network with tons of people. You’ll want to stand out, and not for all the wrong reasons. Below you’ll find a few dos and don’ts that will help you achieve the positive:
1. Hand out business cards with no logo or photo. Hire someone to create a logo for you, or if you are strapped for cash, you can make a temporary one on sites like flamingtext.com, logomaker.com, and cooltext.com. If you’re good, your logo can become a permanent one. If you’re familiar with Photoshop or similar software, you can make a great logo. A logo doesn’t have to be big and extravagant.
2. Hand out business cards with no contact information. It’s okay if you don’t have a big operation and work from your home or cell phone. You can still have a contact number that you can strictly use for business. Google has a FREE service called Google voice. It’s a free phone number for your business, especially if you work from home and you don’t want clients or the public to have your cell, home, or work number. You can link this number to ring on all your phones at once, so no matter where you are you won’t miss a call, while still keeping your privacy. This way you can decipher if a client is calling you. It has voice mail, call rejection, and other cool features, so you can have your own personal greeting. And, the best thing, it has call screening.
I’ve said this time and time again: you should have a professional email address. I don’t mean an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org or JohnDoe@gmail.com. These emails are handy, but if you want to be taken seriously and look professional, get a vanity email address that matches your Website. For example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or even email@example.com looks more professional. You want to ensure that your business looks like a million bucks.
3. Don’t forgo a Website. With hosting and domain companies like GoDaddy, you really should have a Website. No, you must have a Website. With the advancement of social media, we tend to rely on it totally for our branding, promoting, and selling. This is a big no-no. I talk about social media all the time, but it shouldn’t be the reason you don’t have a Website. Get yourself a vanity Website. It doesn’t have to include tons of bells and whistles; it can be a clean site that gets to the point. If you use a service like WordPress, I think you’ll be surprised to learn that you can create a basic Website.
1. Design and print promotional material. Usually when I mention promotional material to my clients, they shy away, thinking huge costs are associated with promotional items. Some promotional material can cost a lot of money—it depends on what you get and what company you use. Some companies will print 1,000 to 5,000 bookmarks from $50 to $100. If you don’t want that many, you can use companies like VistaPrint, which is a good place to start, in my opinion. VistaPrint offers an array of promotional products at a reasonable price. They make everything from posters to car magnets and just about anything else you can think of.
2. Apply for a free credit card reader. The top three are PayPal, Square, and Intuit. Ignore ads that sell these readers for upwards of $15. If you sign up for the service directly through the company’s Website, they will send you the reader for free. Find out which one works for you, as they have different guidelines. I use PayPal first and then Square. I have not yet used Intuit, but I know people who do. This will ensure you’ll never miss a sale when a potential buyer tells you they only have a credit card. The readers are fairly easy to use and attach to the earphone jack in your smart phone or tablet.
3. Make sure you have enough books. I have gone to plenty of events and inquired about the purchase of a book only to be told, “I ran out.” No!!! How many sales did you miss because you ran out? This is one of those cases where it is safer to order more than you need than to run the risk of not having enough. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to buy a book at an event, only to be told that none were left and was redirected to the author’s Website. Bad mistake. Do you think I remembered to visit that author’s Website when I got home? No. And if I did, as I was browsing the Web, I found something more interesting than that author’s book to buy.
4. Network and make yourself available. Again, I’ve gone to several events and watched as authors sat in the corner and didn’t mingle or attempt to build relationships with others at the event. I even witnessed potential buyers stop at an author’s table, only to have the author sit behind the table and not even acknowledge the person. Do you want to know what I do? I simply walk away. If you don’t want my business, I’m certainly not going to give it to you. Get up, get out of your comfort zone, and mingle. This gives you an opportunity to learn what others are doing that may help you, find what others like, and talk up your book. As my grandmother Madea used to say, “A closed mouth don’t get fed.”
I hope some of these help you this summer as you venture out to book signings, conferences, conventions, festivals, and other events. And I pray that this is your best-selling summer yet!