For sixteen years, I worked in the real estate business; eight of those years I ran my own company, Portfolio Real Estate. I specialized in properties on Lake Murray which has over six hundred miles of shoreline and is located northwest of Columbia, SC. During my real estate days, I learned that promotional items are key to maintaining a successful business. I developed a buyers’ guide to Lake Murray called the Lake Murray Portfolio, where I previewed and photographed lake houses that were for sale. I advertised in my local newspaper, and with the help of an advertising company, created a brochure about my business that was distinctive, memorable, and brought me sales. I took these lessons learned from real estate into my business as an author.
When I do a book signing, I am armed with several hundred bookmarks that were designed by the talented man, Robin Krauss, who creates the book covers for my publishing house, Boutique of Quality Books, Atlanta, Georgia. The book marks are eye catching and provide information to help customers learn about, and purchase my novels, The Cast Net and Catherine’s Cross. I have found that people who take a bookmark from me sometimes later purchase my books, or download them in an ebook format.
Another important rule to having a successful book promotion is to schedule your signing alongside a community event that will bring foot traffic in front of your table. This past Memorial Day weekend, I signed copies of my novels at McIntosh Book Shoppe, on Bay Street in downtown Beaufort, South Carolina. Since both of my novels are set in the Low Country of South Carolina, a couple of weeks before the book signing, I made a tour of the Low Country of South Carolina visiting newspapers and book stores along the coast. I visited over fifteen venues, but heard back from one very important news source, The Hilton Head Island Packet. A reporter for this newspaper called and interviewed me about my novels and wrote about them preceding the scheduled book signing. His article was outstanding. Not only did I benefit from the foot traffic that was in Beaufort for the Saturday before Memorial Day, but I had customers who had read the article and came especially to purchase my novels. I had a wonderful signing event and sold thirty copies of my novels. This broke my old record of twenty-six books that I sold last summer during an annual celebration that takes place in Beaufort.
I would like to say more in regards to giving away bookmarks. It is a nonthreatening way of introducing yourself to passersby. As people go by my signing table, I ask them if they’d like a bookmark. Usually, the answer is yes. When a person comes forward to receive the bookmark, I tell them that I’m signing my novels, and I give a brief synopsis of the stories. I find that this works in a positive fashion, and then I close on the sale. I don’t sell everyone a book, but I have a good success rate. If you think about it, I signed books for three hours and sold thirty books. That’s a book sale every six minutes!
All right authors—get those bookmarks ready! Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with passersby at your signings, hand them out, and smile!
Please check out these links. The first one is the article written about me in The Hilton Head Island Packet: http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/05/19/2509240/a-chat-with-millie-west-author.html
This link is to Southern Writer’s Magazine. Catherine’s Cross was recently the must read of the week: http://southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com/
My website: www.milliewestauthor.com