This past week, I stepped out of my usual routine and participated in a book event, The Author Expo at the Dekalb County Public Library in Tucker. At first, I was a bit wary about doing so because of my past experiences with book events. As an author, I have always believed that my goal was just to sell books. That was the attitude I have carried since my first release in 2009. Not that I was entirely off, but what I had failed to grasp was the importance of networking and meeting people face to face. Over the years, I have blogged off and on, hung out on social media way too much, and half-heartedly sought a book club here and there. In hindsight, it wasn’t all about my commitment to selling books, it was more about my lack of knowing what to do.
I am not writing this article because I now have all the answers and I am going to shout what I do know about selling training or eBooks or anything else. I am writing this article because I don’t want other writers and authors to feel left out. As I listen to and read the gurus out there, I have come to realize a couple of things about marketing my writing. One, the best audience is your live audience. Start with those who you can touch and who can touch you, then branch out from there. When I say branch out, I mean choose your venues carefully, but choose. Get out, especially from behind your computer on social media, and in front of people. Engage. Book events are good for that. Even if the foot traffic is low, you will still have a room filled with potential readers and collaborators, the other authors.
Don’t despair though. When I first started out, I spent thousands of dollars on book events and their associated costs. That first year, I attended five events from Atlanta to Houston. My hard-earned dollars were spent on booths, books, airfare, hotels, food, transportation, and shipping. At each event, I averaged the sale of about 10 books. So, you get why I quit doing book events unless they were free. I gave up, threw my hands up until another two years past and I wrote another book. This time, it was more blogs, more social media, launch parties, and book clubs. The momentum for my books was picking up, but so was my nine-to-five. One of them had to go. I dropped the books. After all, I had convinced myself it was a fairy tale. So, what has changed since then? What was the second thing I finally realized? Commitment.
Real commitment. In addition to learning that face to face is as important as a daily post on Facebook or a robust email list, I have realized nothing will work unless you work it. You must stay focused on the results you visualize. And yes, a healthy email list is a plus, but a little voice inside my mind keeps asking, “Does Stephen King have an email list?” At least, I am not on it. And when I open my email, I think I am on everybody’s list. I could spend the day unsubscribing and still have a full box in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking emails. HINT: Please subscribe to my newsletter by giving me your email. I promise I won’t inundate your mailbox. Just saying. However, in addition to subscribing, whether you are a reader, an author, or someone only interested in “Living Life One Story at a Time,” drop a comment to say hi. If I am at an event near you, stop by and say hi. Let’s meet and greet.
But, this advice is not just something to keep in mind for selling books. In today’s society, we need to become more organic, more aware that each of us is human, with feelings, dreams, and goals. Go share those over a cup of coffee, at a book event, or any event where humans are there. And I implore each of you reading this blog, commit to something whether it is to become the bestselling author or the best mom in the world. Commit. Stay Focused. Smile and Say Hello to another human. Let’s continue to keep Living Life One Story at a Time in the best way possible.
Dilsa Saunders Bailey, the author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to LIVING LIFE ONE STORY AT A TIME. All three novels in The Sperling Chronicles, Dreams Thrown Away, Split Images, and No Tears for Dead Men, are now available in Print at most online retailers and on Kindle.