Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.
I was introduced to Swiss novelist and former professor of literature Rudolph Bader by Helen Hart at SilverWood Books, after I’d admired his intriguing book cover. I then went on to read and review his book, which I very much enjoyed, and it was a pleasure to be able to meet him in person to interview him a couple of years ago. I’m delighted that he is now able to join us on the Off The Shelf blog to share his top tip for marketing his self-published novel, The Prison of Perspective.
Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could be the one you enjoy most.
Rudolph Bader: Spend a Saturday in a bookstore. Prepare a small display of your book on a small table, possibly with a poster of the book cover and yourself, and a chair to sit down for your book-signing. Slowly walk around the store and approach customers politely and convincingly. Sell them your book by conviction (not coercion).
Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!
Rudolph Bader: By all means be well-dressed (not over-dressed), well-rested (so you feel good about yourself) and remain polite throughout. Be relaxed and smile naturally. Approach customers with a friendly question, such as, “Excuse me, please. Do you read novels?” Show them your book, let them read a page or two and involve them in a pleasant discussion. Let them see the qualities of your book.
Avoid all cheap sales tricks, but respect your customers. Use your natural sense of humour without getting too pushy. Don’t try to persuade them once you see they’re not interested or under time-pressure, but use genuine arguments if they show a certain degree of interest. Be relaxed, and let your charisma and the real qualities of your book convince them. Like this, about fifty per cent of the customers you approach will definitely buy your book, and you can sell more than 60 books on a good Saturday.
Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?
Rudolph Bader: I like talking about books, about literature, about the writing process, and I like talking to friendly people with similar interests. It gives me a sense of real achievement when customers like my book. Sometimes readers who bought my novel on a previous book-signing event come back to thank me for my book and the pleasure it has given them. Contact with my readers is the most rewarding experience indeed!
Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?
Rudolph Bader: I have used this strategy with my novel, The Prison of Perspective (published in 2010), through 2010 and 2011.
Unfortunately, Waterstone’s Bookstores discontinued such events in mid-2011, so that was the end of that.
Silly really, but it was obviously due to complaints from customers about authors who were too pushy and pressed customers into a corner.
I only hope they will resume the old practice in time, they should vet their authors before allowing them to do book-signing events in their stores to prevent unpleasant situations for their customers. Then the scheme would work wonderfully, as indeed it did in my case. I made quite a name for myself among the branch managers throughout the South East of England.
Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?
Rudolph Bader: No, I would do it exactly the same way. It was so successful.
Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?
Rudolph Bader: Heaving my books from the nearest car-park to the store. And, of course, the rare unfriendly customer.
Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?
Rudolph Bader: Taking part in discussions on literature in general and on my novel in particular on the radio or on TV (after all, I used to take part in such general discussions during my time as a university professor of literature).
Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.
Rudolph Bader: For me it is very important that the quality of my books should sell them, not my person. I passionately disagree with today’s sales strategies in the book market, where “big names” of authors are created by the PR people. For me, “bestsellers” are no proof of quality, while books by really good authors may of course become bestsellers. For me, the big question is: How can I promote my book without putting myself in the foreground too much? How can I publicise the real qualities of my books at affordable costs?
Debbie Young: Good questions, Rudolph, and I hope you’ll find some helpful answers both on this blog and in my book promotion handbook Sell Your Books!
Find out more about Rudolph Bader and The Prison of Perspective on his website: www.rudolphbader.com
FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:
- subscribe to the free Off The Shelf Newsletter
- read Sell Your Books! by Debbie Young
- join the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) (Debbie Young edits their blog)