Monday, March 15, 2010

Sell the Sizzle

Book fairs seem like a good idea, but are only useful if focused on a few authors period. And their books better suck. If a used book store is anywhere near where you are selling - forget it. If you are at a street fair - forget it. If you are part of a craft fair - forget it. If some lady is selling children’s book within five miles - forget it. The point is, if you are not famous enough to draw a crowd on your own - forget it. It's a cart and horse logic issue. Become recognizable first.

Books have their secrets locked inside. When someone comes up to where you are selling, they are more interested in the fact you wrote a book and they are probably looking for advice on how they could write one too. They will pick and flip to be polite, and then walk away. If your book could do a song and dance routine, then maybe you could make a sale. Musicians are lucky. They hammer out some songs and tell people they’re on the CD and today they’re selling at a HUGE discount - sales are made, especially if a pretty young thing is doing the selling.

The more complex and interesting your book is, the harder it is to explain it. The thirty word blurb is about all you get before their eyes glaze over. That’s why how-to books sell 10 to 1 better that fiction. They sell themselves - like the ShamWow. The title itself tells people if they buy the book it will improve their lives. It really doesn’t matter what improvement you’re talking about. If it improves your sex life, makes you money or will save a marriage, it’s a guaranteed sale to many gullible people. They have a garage full of them and give them to Goodwill six months later.

If you’re a fiction writer, like me, you have to be creative with the selling technique. I will guarantee improved sales if you make a book trailer and have it running continuously on a laptop computer sitting on the sales table. Don’t say a thing. You open your mouth and the magic dies. You add tee shirts with logos from the book, even better. You will sell a tee shirt and a book.

What you find is, due to the nature of a book’s contents being inaccessible without a long sit and read session, you need to be famous and that’s the draw or you have to gimmick the sale with a dozen carny tricks or you can’t break through the interest threshold to make a sale. Sell the sizzle not the steak.

How do I know this? Don’t ask.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Author, Inc.

Greetings. If you’re in the San Diego on 22 March, I'm giving a talk on the Internet and the wired author at the SD Writers and Editors Guild meeting ( It's such a mind boggling challenge to be more that just a writer in today's world. This electronic monster called the Internet and computers in general have shoved authors out into the limelight where websites, social networking, marketing strategy, and presentation coaches are standard fare. You have to be Author, Inc. If you can find the energy, learning how to tame the beast can only be to your advantage. That’s why I lecture on the Wired Author.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Ghostwriter's Haunts

I was blown away by the stats that try to show how many of the best sellers are ghostwritten. I won't quote numbers here, because there is no real way to tell, since the whole point of ghostwriting for the rich and famous is to stay anonymous.

Here’s my question to the authors out there: Are there works you know of with credit given to someone famous for writing a book that was actually written by a ghostwriter? I’m not talking about Sarah Palin, Bill & Hillary Clinton. I'm curious about someone like Winston Churchill or Hemingway.