Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shyness and Self-Promotion

Being shy makes it harder to self-promote. Now some of you might be thinking, she can't be shy. She gets up in front of people and sings, for goodness sakes. And dances. At parties, she's laughing and having a grand old time. But shy I am, trust me. It became painfully clear to me on Saturday when I participated in a self-published author event at Page One, Albuquerque's largest independent bookstore.

Once a month, Page One allows self-published authors to set up a table (for free) and sell their books. Although I hosted my book launch there in February, this was the first time I went to this event. There were two other authors there, both of whom had been doing this for three years.

"Is it worth it," I asked Jim, a retired search and rescue volunteer who has written a novel about his adventures.

"I guess I have averaged about a 1/3 of a book a month in sales over the three years," Jim said.

Gulp. We sat. Jim accosted every single person who entered the bookstore with, "Hi there. We're local authors peddling our wares. Want to take a look?"

I wanted to crawl under the table. I can easily speak with people if they come up of their own accord and pick up a book. But I cannot, will not, do not want to try to stop them on their way to whatever they came in for. This made me realize that I am the same way at parties and group gatherings. I do not initiate conversations, although I am perfectly fine if someone comes up to me and starts talking.

How does this affect me regarding self-promotion for my book? It means I won't be going to Page One's monthly event any time soon. It's a waste of time and energy. I will, however, begin to set up speaking engagements at associations relating to the issues in my book. I will begin writing more articles and essays pertaining to topics covered in the memoir. And I will continue the internet marketing that is actually working, one book at a time.

My epiphany around being shy and self-promoting is that the process must be organic for me to continue doing it, playing to my strengths and avoiding things that highlight my weaknesses.



Joanne said...

Kudos to you for exploring this marketing avenue at your local bookstore, and giving it a try. I guess that's what's important, finding the efforts that are a fit for you and your book, and using those efforts to their greatest capability.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I am so with you on this, Karen. And it doesn't matter if you're self-published or traditionally published, it's still difficult to sell books this way. I jokingly refer to some tactics as "wrestling the customer to the floor as he walks in the door," and I just cannot do it. On the other hand, when I do agree to participate in a signing or any speaking engagement, I've learned that nothing brings people to your table better than a bowl of chocolate candies.

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Good epiphany, and yes, self-promotion must come from the heart, being true to you and who you are. We are not all Type A personalities. Your natural and organic way of going about it will work just fine for you. :)

The Old Silly From Free Spirit blog

Galen Kindley--Author said...

This sounds familiar. I’ve had some success with public signings, but, it’s painful. Since the economy has tanked, it’s even more difficult, because people just don’t have discretionary income to spend on an author, of whom, they’ve never heard—-or Stephen King for that matter. So, it’s tough.

Couple of tips if you try it again. I did a blog about a handout. That kinda gets folks attention and does your talking for you. Just offer it and say, “This book is on sale today. I’m the author.” That second sentence is important. It usually makes a difference in interest level. Later, go around the story and collect the discarded handouts and use ‘em again.

Patricia’s right about food. It does attract them to your table. I used cookies from SafeWay. Start talking when they reach for the cookies or whatever. You also gotta know what you’re gonna say. You won’t have long.

Yes, it’s kinda like wrestling them to the floor. So, note, some bookstores make take exception to handouts and food. If all they’ll let you do is sit at a table, you might as well just go home. Virtually no one will come to see you.

Best Regards, Galen.

Karen Walker said...

Thanks for the tips. I did have chocolate kisses sprinkled on the table. Every once in awhile I'd get up enough nerve to ask folks if they wanted a kiss. It got their attention, but didn't get them to stop at the table.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Page One in Albuquerque! We used to walk there from our house about once a week. Is the used/discount book store, Page One Too, still across the street?

You know what? It is tough! But the author who masters approaching people will sell more books. After almost 300 signings in five years, it doesn't bother me a bit to do it now, and I was a bit shy at first as well.

Jim's approach is amatuerish and I wouldn't recommend doing what he does. But you gotta go talk to somebody, because they generally won't approach the table - especially if you're sitting there! I have never sat for a signing - I roam the store and greet those who enter. My ploy is I give them a bookmark. Ultimately my goal is for every person who enters that store to leave with a book or a bookmark, no matter what! And I learned to stop second-guessing who would be interested, too. Am I pushy? Heck no! Salesman is not in my blood. But I am friendly and energetic.

Try pushing yourself just a little further out of your comfort zone with each appearance, Karen!

L. Diane Wolfe

Helen Ginger said...

I've never done a booksigning, but I've been to plenty. It seems to me that the ones that work are where the authors stand (not sit unless they have a line waiting for them to sit and sign) or walk around. Candy or something is a good draw, but check with the store first to get the okay, and handing out bookmarks is good. Smile, look friendly. If they approach, engage them. You can start with something mundane, like, How are you today? or Isn't it hot outside? I am so glad to be inside signing my latest book.

Be yourself. But be yourself stepping just a tad out of your comfort zone. In that way, you'll eventually expand your comfort zone.

Helen, the former public speaking instructor (can you tell?)
Straight From Hel

alexisgrant said...

Gulp from me, too! I'm not great at self-promotion either. Can you find groups to share your book with who are interested in this particular topic? That way you won't feel like you're pressuring them... Keep us posted.

Patricia Stoltey said...

On the food thing, the others are right. Always ask if it's okay. However, I've never had a bookstore person say no, especially to a small bowl or basket of individually wrapped candies. The main thing is not to compete with anything the bookstore (or its in-house coffee shop) sells.

N A Sharpe said...

I'm not good at this sort of thing either. I am painfully shy.

I did have pretty good luck at a school event I was invited to. The kids signed up for which author's workshops they wanted to go to. Mine was interactive (insert kids eyes rolling at this since they thought they got a free period) and it really turned out great. Once they started they really got into it and didn't want to leave at the end of the sessions. Ended up selling 6 additional books. I didn't think that was too bad. Since you are open to speaking engagements maybe you could set one up at the local library - do a local press release, put up flyers...and don't forget to set out some books for sale.

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

conarnold said...

How well I understand what you mean, Karen! Self-promotion is always hard, and especially when you are shy. I've been working hard at getting beyond my comfort zone too and wish you the best in reaching others about your book. I'm also finding the internet to be a good place to meet people and promote books.

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