Selling My Books: Caz Greenham, Children’s Author

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Head and shoulders of Caz Greenham

Caz Greenham, children’s author

I was introduced to children’s author Caz Greenham by Helen Hart at SilverWood Books who have published the first two volumes in her series of children’s stories about her character Eric Seagull.

Caz has since moved to Brixham in Devon, her favourite seaside resort which originally inspired her to write about Eric’s adventures. Her bubbly personality and willingness to talk to strangers about her book has given her legendary powers when it comes to handselling copies wherever she goes.

I’m sure there are plenty more adventures to follow, for both Eric and for Caz!

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.

Caz Greenham: My best tip is talk about your book after, never before, you’ve finished your business, i.e. at the bank, or a transaction in a superstore etc. and have either a bookmark or a business card to hand over. And smile while showing your enthusiasm about your books that you’ve taken millions of hours to write. Look them in the eye. Very important.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Caz Greenham: Because I actually believe in myself. I know I’ve written a fabulous children’s book with great characters that bring my books to life. I like people and I love to chat.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Caz Greenham: I talk about my books to everyone and anyone. So, everyone is a customer. ‘Do it all the time’

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Cover of Eric Seagull Book 1

Eric Seagull’s first adventure

Caz Greenham: I wouldn’t do anything any differently with any new books.

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Caz Greenham: The worst part for me would have to be public speaking. I’ve health/voice issues which prevent me from talking for very long. So that would never be an option for me, and one I would avoid at all cost. It’s not a confidence thing. I’ve plenty of that.

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?

Caz Greenham:  I’d love to talk about my book in front of a room of people. I can’t. That’ll never take place. (see above)

Cover of Eric Seagull Book 2

Eric Seagull returns for more fun

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Caz Greenham: I have to say that Caz’s Blog Diary (Caz’s personal blog, accessible from a link on her author website) isn’t perhaps what others might expect – I’m doing it my way.

I see most authors simply interviewing other authors, and exchanging places on their blogs. I find this somewhat boring, mostly (Ed: except on this one!)

So, as you’ll see ‘I’m doing it my way’ here: http://cazgreenhamdotblogspotdotwordpressdotcom.wordpress.com/

I’m not climbing any Corporate Ladder of Success, here. I’m writing for me first, and the public second. I’ll always write to the best of my ability and hope my readers enjoy the journey with me.

I’m not one who finds it necessary to impress anyone with boring stats about sales of my books, and I never brag. I have no intention of joining the long ‘List of Boring Writers’ that appear to do just that most days on Facebook, and Twitter. I’ll never be that sad, for life is for living and enjoying and not, in my opinion, for trying to impress others along the way. I wonder what these writers expect to gain, I guess a big pat on the back and another click on the Like button.

Debbie Young: Caz, I’m sure our readers here will find your energy and enthusiasm uplifting and inspiring. Thank you so much for joining Off The Shelf today.

Find out more about Caz Greenham via www.cazgreenham.com – and if you follow her on Twitter, she’ll certainly liven up your timeline: @TheCazzz (yes, that IS meant to be 3 x z!)

To find out more about Caz’s impressive ability to sell her books wherever she goes, read my this post from the Off The Shelf archive:  How To Sell More Books By Seizing Handselling Opportunities

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

How to Sell More Self-Published Books: Seize Handselling Opportunities

Author M C Beaton at a library event

Another happy customer: international bestseller M C Beaton handsells a book to my mum in the local library!

It’s all too easy, in this age of internet bookselling, to focus only on your online sales figures, allowing  allow handselling opportunities to pass you by. But if you look out for them, you’ll be surprised at how many of these there are.

What’s more, readers who buy from you in person may be more likely to:

  • tell their friends about their purchase
  • appreciate your book more because they’ve met you in person
  • be better ambassadors for you than readers who you’ve never met

Although handsold copies may be a tiny proportion of your total sales, they will help you build your success and your fan-base, so make the most of the opportunities to sell YOUR books!

What is Handselling, anyway?

By handselling, I mean books sold directly by the author to the purchaster at any face-to-face encounter e.g.

  • at a formal event such as a book launch or book signing
  • at a stall you’ve set up at your local literature festival or community fete
  • at just about anywhere you happen to be – on a bus, at a party, in the office, in a shop

If you think selling a book by hand sounds difficult, bear in mind the example of my dear late friend Lyn. She actually sold her house while at the hairdresser’s to a lady she’d never met before. Yes, not a book, but her HOUSE, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Simply by chatting to a stranger. She’d only gone in for a haircut, but she got chatting with the lady in the next chair, and the conversation turned to houses. Realising that this lady was looking for exactly the kind of house that she was trying to sell, Lyn sealed the deal. If she could handsell a house, can handselling books really be that difficult?

Finding Opportunities for Handselling Books

Handselling her books, with  a beautiful smile

Artemis Cooper, handselling her books (no extra charge for a friendly smile)

Formal events provide the most natural handselling opportunities. I’ve written before about the sales potential of a well-managed book talk:

There are many unstructured handselling opportunities, if you keep your eye open for them. Last November, when I was distributing posters for our PTA’s Christmas Fair, the proprietor of a nearby craft centre asked me what I did for a living, and I told her I was a writer. When I told her about my newly-launched handbook for authors, Sell Your Books!, I didn’t expect it to be of interest to someone in her line of business, but she revealed that she had an aunt who was writing a book. I suggested that my book would be the perfect Christmas present, especially if I signed it. Ker-ching! I fetched a copy from the car. (I also sold three copies at the PTA Christmas Fair itself.)

I  always carry at least two copies of my book in my car – one a well-thumbed display copy and the other, untouched by human hand, for selling at the cover price (and at a better margin than I earn online). I have been known to make a sale in a car park, feeling (unjustifiably!) like a dodgy trader in counterfeit watches.

Great Examples of Handsold Books

I thought I was good at opportunistic sales, but my efforts were put in the shade last week by reports from some authors I was chatting to on SilverWood Books’ excellent Facebook forum. Although this is a private forum, a benefit available only to authors who currently use the company’s assisted publishing services, I have their permission, and SilverWood’s, to share here their impressive examples of handselling.

Cover of The Assassin's Mark by David Ebsworth

Tempting the postmistress

Historical novelist David Ebsworth reports:

“Posting off my latest orders at the Post Office this morning, the nice lady behind the counter finally plucked up courage to ask me what sort of books I’m writing. Turns out she’s a historical fiction fanatic and she promptly bought my “carry around” copy of my latest novel, The Assassin’s Mark.”

When she’s finished that one, I bet he’ll sell her a copy of his previous novel, The Jacobite’s Apprentice.

Novelist Sandy Osborne is a well-known and recognised local figure due to the extensive local media coverage of her first novel, Girl Cop, launched in the local Waterstones in January. At that event, she broke the branch’s record for most books sold by an indie author, and continues to capitalise on her local following by carrying fliers wherever she goes.

“I hand people the flier and tell them with a big smile that I’ve got a copy of the book in the car if they’re interested!” she advises. “I’ve sold copies to my holiday rep and the beautician who does my eyebrow shape!”

Cover ofThe Adventures of Eric Seagull by Caz Greenham

Just what the pharmacist ordered

Caz Greenham is making great headway selling the first in her planned series of children’s books, set in the seaside resort of Brixham, Devon. Not content with securing pre-publication orders from Brixham’s hotels and tourist attractions, she is also building up a considerable following in her home town of Bristol. Offering free talks to nearby schools has provided her with obvious opportunities to handsell copies to children and parents. Less obviously, she has also sold three copies to the lady behind the counter in her local  bank!

Of course, it’s not always convenient to carry physical copies of the book around, particularly if yours is a heavy book, a large format, or only available as an e-book. In that case, carry a business card or bookmark bearing the book’s details.

Caz Greenham had this technique sussed very early on: “”I sold my first book, via Amazon, to the pharmacist at Asda. After introducing my book with chit-chat and a SilverWood bookmark, he flipped open his phone, went to the Amazon page, and hey ho – he ordered The Advenures of Eric Seagull for his little boy!”

The Etiquette of Handselling

Effective handselling really follows the same rules of etiquette as promoting your book via social media. It is NOT the done thing to shriek “Buy my book! It’s wonderful!” to everyone you meet, but to engage people in pleasant, natural conversation. If the opportunity then arises to drop your book into the discussion, do so. If the person you’re talking to makes buying signals, e.g.  asks what your book’s about or how much it costs, tell them what they want to know, without applying any pressure or showing £ or $ signs in your eyes.

Then, if you have a copy to hand, that’s the time to produce it. Allow them to hold it and to flick through it – it’s known in the trade as “puppy-dog selling“. As with puppies, once readers have picked up books, they start to bond with them and are much more likely to buy. (My salesman husband once persuaded me to adopt a kitten, against my better judgement, by passing it across for me to hold. Inevitably, the kitten came home with us.) Feel free to ask the enquirer, in a casual tone, whether they’d like to buy the copy now, and offer to sign it as an extra incentive. That could be the deal clincher that makes them buy now, rather than waiting till they’re next online or in a bookshop (where they may be distracted from your book by other matters and may forget all about their intention to purchase).

If you don’t have a copy of your book to hand, have other sales aids ready instead:

  • a bookmark with an attractive image of your book’s cover, with ISBN, price and blurb
  • your business card showing your author website and Amazon page
  • a postcard of the book’s front cover – likely to be put on the kitchen noticeboard or kept for correspondence

I’ve even been handed a promotional pen with the name and details of a book on it. This probably wasn’t a cost-effective tactic, probably costing as much as the author’s margin on the book, but hey, I’ve remembered the book’s title two years on! Giving me the branded pen was a testament not only to that author’s determination to sell his book, but also to the persuasiveness of online firms such as Vistaprint, from whom it’s very easy to order suitable promotional materials at reasonable cost. Beware, they can be addictive! Been there, got the t-shirt… literally!

If the discussion ends without a sale, don’t be downhearted – at least you’ve tried. The person you’ve been speaking to will probably still be impressed that they’ve met a real live author  and will probably tell their friends about your encounter. Even in these heady days of self-publishing, many people are in awe of anyone who’s written a book. This means your meeting will have raised your profile and got people talking about your book, making future sales more likely – and that’s still a great result!

Where’s the most unusual place in which you’ve handsold a copy of your book? Do tell!

If you found this post helpful, you might also like:

A Case Study of a Succssful Book Launch with Girl Cop author Sandy Osborne

How to Build A Great Relationship with your Local Bookshop

Why You Should Sell the Author As Well As the Book