Go Tell It on the Mountain


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You remember this song, right? I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anyone’s religion, but I think this song title could well be adapted to our work as promoters of our books.

I think it’s my job to tell anyone and everyone who meanders across my path about my books, because you never know when you are going to meet a new (potential) fan.

Let me give you a few examples:

1. I was talking with the account rep at National City Bank about transferring some money from one account to another. She said, “While we’re waiting for this to go through, is there anything else I could do for you today?” And I said, “Sure! You could take a look at my new mystery on Amazon.” Well, wouldn’t you know it, she LOVES mysteries and scrapbooking, and she copied down my book title and told me she’d tell all her friends.

2. We said “Hi” to the nice lady in the villa two doors down from us here on Kiawah Island. She told us she was shocked because none of the renters here usually say hello, and she’s a very lonely resident. “I’ve joined local bookclubs to get to know people,” she said. And so I followed up with, “What kind of books do you read?” Then I told her about my book, and later I delivered a customized bookmark. Her daughter was visiting when I dropped off the bookmark, and my neighbor had already told her all about my book.

3. I found out that one of my doctors has a holiday boutique in her office each November. I asked if they would have an opening for me to come sell my books–and they were thrilled.

4. I talked to my sister who’s a teacher about how important it is to promote my books. We changed the subject, and then, Meg said, “You know, they have a bookclub at school. I didn’t even think about it, but there’s no reason they couldn’t read YOUR book.”

5. I talked to Sonja who exercises right next to me at Jazzercise. She told me there’s a book club in her association, and she’s getting me the contact information.

6. At a party, I handed one of my business cards (with my cover on it) to Vickie Newton, a local news anchor for KMOV. She’s planning to interview me as soon as the book comes out.

You don’t have to be obnoxious. You do have to be strategic. And the conversation can’t just be about you and your book…

But here’s my thinking: I personally LOVE books. I really love knowing authors. And if someone shared information about his or her book with me, I’d be happy to hear the good news. As long as the person was respectful and not pushy. I’m always looking for that next new favorite author.

And I trust that there’s a universe of other people who feel the same.

15 thoughts on “Go Tell It on the Mountain

  1. You are an amazing powerhouse of creative promotion! I love hearing about new books too, especially when the author(s) in question like to hear about what I’m doing. I’ve met a few who put the ‘N’ in narcissist, but most of them are so mutually supportive. And it’s always pleasantly surprising to find out how excited perfect strangers are when they find out I’ve got a book out there.

  2. You are very kind. My rule is to give first, and then worry about getting. Sometimes it doesn’t always pan out, but mostly it does. So it’s not narcisstic, because we all LOVE knowing about books and new authors. I get this cheap personal thrill by walking through a bookstore and noting all the authors whose lives have touched mine, even if we were just at the same convention!

  3. A powerhouse indeed, and I'm lucky enough to share a promotional card with Joanna!
    We have our covers together on a card, promoting http://www.killerhobbies.blogspot.com

    It's a great idea to pair up this way, since you get twice the interest. At B&N the other night I had our cards and actually started out with "do you scrapbook?"

    It works every time when we start out giving.

  4. You’re actually helping people by talking about your book. I went to a booksigning today (author Diane Fanning) and noticed something that I often see. People are reluctant to come up to an author — even one sitting or standing next to a pile of books.

    But if you approach people the way you do, you’re putting them at ease.

  5. Absolutely, Helen. How often do we hang back waiting for the other person to make the first move? I suspect we all do this–often missing the chance to make a friend.

    I’ve seen signing where the author acted like he or she was on stage and the readers were there to watch. How silly is that? If you aren’t willing to meet and greet, I think you should stay home!

  6. I did a book tour with Jess Lourey and we had a blast talking to people who just walked by our table at the various bookstores.

    Thanks for the reminder re: Killer Hobbies, Camille! If I haven’t added it to my blogroll, I needs to do that. I wish I had more time to read all of these wonderful posts too. They’re as fun as the books themselves.

  7. Great ideas, Joanna. I’m not the outgoing type, but I’ve learned to speak up about my books when I find the opportunity. I’ve sold a lot of books by handing someone my business card and telling them about the books. I keep hoping for one of those moments I read about where the movie producer, the killer agent, or the book club editor happens by. Meanwhile, I’ll keep on chatting who whoever comes along.

  8. Thanks, guys!

    I’ll keep sharing if you keep showing up!

    By the way, Chester has a great presence on Dorothy L. Maybe we can encourage him to tell us about how he does it…that can be a tricky balancing spot.

    I do think that the key here is to not come across like a narcisstic jerk. It’s one thing to share–and another to be a bore.