Monday, February 25, 2013
5 Things an Author Must Always… #1 Always carry a somewhat nice pen. A $40 pen will be stolen in a heartbeat. So will a $2 pen but you can probably shrug that off a little easier. Longhand might not be your preferred writing method, but writers need to capture story ideas as well as non-writing action items just to keep them out of our heads. Paper seems to materialize when needed but it can be good to carry that also. A pen, however, is a must for other reasons too. For one, you might need to autograph a book when you least expect it. The key reason I carry a pen though is that people often ask to barrow one. It’s a great ice breaker. I like to use that opportunity to say, “as an author I always have a pen.” Often the person who is hurriedly using my pen will notice the word author and ask, “do you have any books out?” That’s a great opportunity to tell them about my book (elevator pitch) and hand them a business card. #2 Always carry business cards. You may have cards for your books or simply send everyone to your website as a central clearinghouse; either way, have them on you at all times. I use cards that guide people directly to a single book and other cards that have my website and a google voice number so that I don’t have to hand write a number or give out my cell out to strangers. #3 Always carry copies of your books. I put a special box in my trunk and I carry a selection of my novels. Some people struggle to sell books in person, but I always found it harder to sell books on-line. I probably sell upwards of four books a week out of my trunk. That’s an extra 200 books a year. Just don’t do it when you’re in a bookstore that carries your book. #4 Always memorize an elevator pitch. Be able to articulate the plot of each of your books in a three to five sentence blurb you can say in two seconds. Where possible, include a hook that makes someone want to buy the book. Note: some authors will shake their head and say an elevator pitch should always contain a hook but with children’s books or a non-fiction it might not be appropriate. Feel free to follow up your pitch with a call to action. Something along the lines of, “I’ve got one in my car if you’d like to buy it. They are available online for $xx.xx but I can sell my copies for two bucks less. #5 When autographing a book, always ask how they spell their name. I ask if they want it personalized first, but I’ve never had someone say no. The correct page to autograph is the title page, which contains the Title of the book and your name. If you have an illustrator or other person, it’s a good idea to have them autograph some in advance. I also try to include a piece of information about where the book was purchased. For example, “It was great running into you at Di Tazza Coffee.” For one thing, it’s hard to think of something to write after “To so and so…” I number the first 10 author copies of each book I publish for trunk sales or promotional giveaways, but I also number the first ten autographs on books sold at a particular event.