Talking “Up” Your Book: What Can You Say?

I recently autographed books at a national conference. Many other authors were there and we all wanted to promote our books. Conference attendees were usually excited to meet authors, but a few seemed to be afraid of being pressured to buy.

Meeting the public is something I always enjoy. During more than 30 years as a professional writer I’ve learned how to start a conversation, interact with people, and listen to their ideas. But I have a caregiving personality and, though I’m a confident author, self-promotion can be hard. You may feel the same way.

How can we talk “up” a book? These suggestions, based on life experience, may help you promote what you write.

Have a summary sentence. Whether it’s novels, self-help, creative non-fiction, travel, or children’s books, I think the author should be able to summarize a book in one sentence. While I’m working on the outline I try out various summary sentences and settle on one. If you can’t summarize a book in one sentence you may be in trouble.

Write an elevator speech. An elevator speech is quick dialogue, something you say before the door opens again. Similar to a summary, this three or four-sentence speech tells and sells your book. Developing an elevator speech can take hours or weeks. Try out your speech on friends and see how they respond.

Tell why your book is different. The conference I just attended was for bereaved parents and family members. Every author in the bookstore had written a book about mourning. To make my books stand out from the rest, I talked about their easy-to-read style, manageable length (about 112 pages) and resource lists.

Be credible. For some authors, credibility means college degrees. For other authors, credibility means life experience. Then there are authors like me who have college degrees and unique life experiences. When I talk with people I tell the story behind the book, about forthcoming books, and the writing I am currently doing.

Share a laugh. A good laugh can save a conversation and the day. I tell funny stories about myself to put people at ease. “There’s a stripper in London with the same name,” I say. “I’m not that person!” These two sentences always get a laugh.

Cite reviews. If a newspaper or magazine has published a review of your book, display it on a mini poster. You can also turn reviews into handouts. Be sure to include your contact information and website address.

Know when to stop. Be alert to waning attention and impatient body language — things that tell you it’s time to wind down a conversation. I say something like, “Thanks for coming by.” As you’re ending a conversation, you may wish to give the person your business card.

Writing is hard work and so is book marketing. I think authors have to be genuine when they talk about their work. People can tell when you’re genuine and when you’re not. If you make a mistake that’s okay. As Walt Whitman once said, “All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.”

Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for decades. Her 24th book, Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from Amazon.

Centering Corporation published her 26th book, Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life, a companion journal, The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul, and the forthcoming Happy Again!

Hodgson has two other new books, 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey, available from Amazon, and Real Meals on 18 Wheels: A Guide for Healthy Living on the Highway, Kathryn Clements, RC, co-author, and available from Amazon soon. Please visit Harriet’s website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

By Harriet Hodgson

Article Source:  Talking “Up” Your Book: What Can You Say?

Leave a Reply