Leading up to the holiday season, I’ve been attending a lot of Christmas Markets as a vendor and one thing that I have noticed is that selling books has its own set of challenges. I’m not a natural salesperson, I’m still learning and I suspect I always will be, but I’ve decided to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned trying to get books into the hands of readers. And this goes beyond how to set up your display, or what to bring with you. Today I’m talking about how to talk to people and how to SELL them your book, IF they’re looking to buy.
You’ve got your table set up, displaying your wares, but you can’t let that just work for itself. That’s going to draw people over, and get their attention, but you have to keep your eyes open – people watching – for opportunities to engage with potential customers. Greet people you notice eyeing your display and ask them what they like to read, or if there are any readers on their shopping list!
Now that you’ve got their attention, start a conversation, but keep it relevant. Do you like to read? What kind of books do you like? Do you have any readers you are shopping for today? If they give you an opening to talk about your book, go for it. Chances are, you might run up against an objection such as, “I don’t read,” or, “I only like this specific genre,” or “I don’t have time to read anymore.” These can either shut down the conversation entirely, which is fine, not everyone is your customer, but they can occasionally be overcome. “My book has elements of the genre you’re looking for,” or “I find it easiest to make time to read before bed,” or “have you tried downloading an ebook to your phone to have it handy when you have the time to read?”
Once you have an idea of what kind of books they might be into, try and suggest one of your books, or explain why they might like the book(s) you are offering. This is your chance to pitch your book in a sentence or two. You’ll want to practice this part so you can say it in an engaging way and hook your customer the way the back of your book should hook a reader. “This book has elements of the genre you’re looking for. It’s a romance, where the main character becomes a fugitive and has to rely on the help of a con man to clear her name…” Know your book well and be passionate about it. That enthusiasm will help you sell.
If they look interested, you can encourage them to pick up the book, flip through it or read the back, then let them do so. Give them the time and silence to mull over the decision on their own or to let the back cover hook them.
It’s time to try and close the sale. Offer them the book. Let them know the price and any promotions you have going on. Let them know if you’re able to sign it for them and see what they’ve decided. They may choose to buy your book now, or they might walk away. If they decide not to buy your book, but you thought they were truly interested, offer them your card, or some kind of promotional material so they know how to find your book again should they change their mind later. Who knows, they might come back by the end of the day, or they might look you up later, so that little reminder can be crucial!
Thanks for reading and good luck selling!