Tips for Book Sellers!

The Hampshire Writers’ Society December book fair will be taking place in just a few days –

Tuesday 10 December at 6.00 pm.

So here are 6 very quick ways to promote your stall from author and strategist EMMA-NICOLE LEWIS.

Emma’s tips are a swift and easy way to let potential readers know about your presence at the book fair:

  1. ESTABLISH YOUR PROMOTIONAL HOOK

    Author and Strategist, Emma-Nicole Lewis

This is the first thing that you need to do. It will give you something to shout about that will attract attention and make people feel as though they’ll be missing out if they do not attend.

Is there something unique or special that you can offer on the night? Here are some examples:

‘Buy one book and get another half price’.

‘30% off on the night’

Everybody loves to feel like they have snagged themselves a bargain, so could you play with your pricing strategy? Use a pricing offer or a discount that works for you, without losing money.

Or, how about offering all those who buy on the night an entry into a prize draw for a 10 local bookshop voucher? If you are not successful, you can use the voucher in another promotion. You’re likely to only need sell a few books to get a return on that investment. If you feel confident that you are likely to break even through your sales, you can offer a bit more as a bigger hook.

Alternatively, you may want to lead with a message that focuses on supporting local authors this Christmas or lead with an offer that offers a personal touch. For example:

‘Give a unique gift to someone special this Christmas – a signed book containing a personal message from the author’.

It is up to you what kind of message you will use to draw people to the fair and your stall, but try and think of the sort of thing that is likely to appeal to your target readers.

When you have defined your ‘hook message’, ensure that this is exactly what you say on all promotional material. Consistency is key to reinforcing and reminding!

  1. PROMOTE ON YOUR WEBSITE

People stumble across your website all the time. Ensure the message is on the front page and in your news/events section or blog, if you have either of these menu options.

You could always direct people to your website’s contact page inviting them to get in touch in order to ‘reserve a book’ so that you can ensure that one is kept aside for them. If you generate responses to this, you are creating a level of commitment for visitors to actually attend and buy one of your books.

  1. USE SOCIAL MEDIA

    Goodies at HWS Book Fair

There are a variety of ways that you can use social media to shout about what you are offering at the book fair:

  • Creating a banner to add to your Facebook and Twitter accounts will help keep the message front of mind for all your followers. Below is an example of a Facebook banner I have used for promoting one of my own books. It sits on top of my author page so that followers always see it whenever they visit my page.
  • Create an event on Facebook. You have the option to do this on your main Facebook page and followers will see it.
  • Create a post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram promoting the fair and what you are offering there. Ensure that you use hashtags to attract local people, but you can take the message a little broader by popping some more generic ones in too. For example,

WinchesterChristmas

Winchester

Christmasmarkets

bookfair

Winchesterbookfair

I tend to check out which hashtags are trending and try and use them, if appropriate and relevant.

  • Publish an advert on Facebook, but ensure you refine it to only go out to UK Facebook Users and to those in ‘Winchester’. You may have to refine using ‘Winchester’ as part of the target audience’s interests. Cleverly work something into your copy in order to encourage people to comment on the post and share.
  1. USE LOCAL VENUES TO PROMOTE

Can you leaflet drop in coffee shops, specific shops that your readers are likely to visit, or community centre noticeboards?

The Stripe Lecture Theatre

Are there local book clubs you can send an email to, advising of the book fair and your promotional offer there – particularly if you are leading with a message that offers a discount to local book club members?

A successful tactic I once used was to stand up in front of a very large gym class and use the instructor’s microphone to promote my book. I left a home printed leaflet behind too. A large WI book club bought it as a result and that led to more opportunities too. So, if you are a member of a club or a gym, enquire whether they will let you shout about your stall. Make sure you do leave behind a leaflet though, as people will forget if they do not have something with details on it.

  1. TRY AND USE LOCAL PRESS

If there is time to get into a print run of a local paper and you think your message has enough stand out, then there is no harm in contacting the Daily Echo or the Chronicle. You are likely to have missed the opportunity with any of the Winchester magazines, but it is worth trying weekly publications.

  1. WORD OF MOUTH

    HWS June Book Fair

Ask your friends and family to share this message too. If you know anyone locally who has read your book, get them to recommend it and share the message. Word of mouth is a wonderful tool.

Barry Cunningham, Managing Director of Chicken House Publishers and discoverer of Harry Potter.

barrycunningham‘Children’s publishing is going through a second Golden Age.’ BARRY CUNNINGHAM announced.

The children’s writers of the past, Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan to name two of Barry’s conquests, knew how to get inside a child’s head, but also when to accept that the adult knew best.

These days children as readers are much more respected. 36% of all book sales are children’s books. Over half of Young Adult books are bought by adults. 78% of these for their own reading satisfaction. What does that tell you about adult’s books? Publishers and writers both need to listen and respond to the requirements of their target market.

‘Publishing a book is very different from saying whether it is well written.’ he says. Barry stated that his job as a publisher is to find readers for his writers’ books. And if he isn’t able to find those readers, he won’t take on that book.

Ally Sherrick, one of Chicken House’s debut authors, entered the SCBWI 10 word pitch competition and answered correctly. Further reading of Ally’s draft gave Barry the idea of Ally’s ‘voice’. This is what captures the publisher/agent’s attention.black-powder-aw-2-195x3001

‘Access the child in you,’ he advises, ‘Go back and feel how you felt then.’ Play tricks with narrative.

Villains, whether that be the villainous situation or as an actual person is the most important character. Heroes come and go. ‘Harry is not as important as Voldemort.’

Dialogue is also important. Use it rather than description to show key moments.

For Barry, planning is precious. He has one writer who has killed off the same character twice! ‘Even so, she’s very successful’, he said. Perhaps chose to plan by listing your characters. You will have lots of information that may not go into the book, but it is important stuff to write down as reference that the writer needs to know.

Read your work aloud – this shows you where the weaknesses are.

When you submit your work, take a look at the writers already represented by your chosen agent. And compliment them! Do as you’re told.

Barry is exasperated that there are still some writers who don’t send 3 chapters, a synopsis and covering letter. Make the synopsis short – one side of A4 will do. Agents read hundreds of synopses. Tell the agent something about yourself ‘Perhaps not that you’re a motorcycling vicar.’ he says, but ‘what you have planned for your character’.

Everyone wants to know about book 2. Barry didn’t suggest that there might not be one.

Use the Publisher/Agents website. Here you’ll find details of competitions and open days.chickenhouselogo

The children’s market is fiercely competitive. But it is still an industry that does dreams. Chicken House relishes finding new voices and ‘if it is good enough, children will follow you through the back of the wardrobe’.