Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Signings—How To Sell More Books

Have you ever sat at an author event, talked to lots of people, and then have them walk away without buying?  Is there any way to entice them?  With my book, Pairs at Nationals, almost ready to launch, I’ve been thinking about book signings and how to sell more books.  I’d like to share a post from Jamie Engle, an award-winning author who also speaks and blogs about writing, editing and marketing. You can find Jaimie and sign up for her newsletter by going to
   The #1 Secret to Selling More Books
      By Jaimie Engle

Last week I was at a Comic Con selling and signing books as a vendor. There were three other authors alongside me doing the same thing. While our books shared the common thread of science fiction, fantasy, or supernatural elements, they were about as different from one another as they could get. I listened as each author elevator pitched their books to passersby, focusing on the finer points of their stories and what set them apart. While the pitches intrigued me in the moment, fifteen minutes later, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about their books, not to mention the length of their sales saga, which grew if they carried more than one title or titles in a series. And the worst part was I couldn’t say anything different about my own pitch and lasting impression. In fact, that first day, we didn’t make any sales, except to each other.

What Were We Doing Wrong?

I went home and analyzed my pitch for one of my titles that night. Here it is:

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light is about a boy from Florida who finds a magic arrow that takes him to 1485 England. At its heart, the story deals with bullying.

It’s not bad, really, but what did my potential customer retain from this short pitch? Well, the word “bullying” probably caught their ear as it’s a trigger word in today’s society. Maybe they caught “magic arrow” but are those powerful enough for them to lay down twelve bucks? Besides, how will that pitch let them know if they will even like my book or not? The answer: it won’t. And herein lies the problem.

How Could We Fix It?

As a writer, I love to problem solve, so I began to think about other ways to pitch the book that the potential reader could connect with. An “aha” moment occurred. I thought about Peter Falk in The Princess Bride. When Falk is describing the book to his sick grandson in the opening scene, he doesn’t give him a log line, a jacket blurb, or even an elevator pitch. He simply states that the book has:  Fencing, Revenge, True love, Fighting, Torture, Chases, Escapes, Giants, Monsters

Wow. Who wouldn’t want to read that book? BINGO! Falk doesn’t share anything substantial about the plot, but instead shares the tropes that readers who enjoy fantasy will want to read. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and effective in its execution. I remembered this pitch long before I remembered the pitches of my fellow authors (my own included).

Why Was That, I Wondered

In the case of my Comic Con experiment, the pitches provided information about the book itself, the unique plot points and story twists that would sell the book. In the case of Peter Falk, the information revealed the experience the reader could expect from reading the book. Information vs. experience. That was the difference. The shift moved from author to reader; plot to experience. I realized that if I wanted to sell books, I would need to translate the experience a potential customer could expect to receive from buying and reading my book. Not the story line I have set the experience within. And this tactic, if viable, should translate across my brand of fiction books, making the pitch much easier, quicker, and precise.

How Does It Work?

I changed my pitch to:
I write books that take you out of this world with magic, epic battles, true love, and the power of friendship.
Not bad. And this led me to a quick segue for each of the novels in my brand:
Clifton Chase takes you to Medieval Times with dragons, The Dredge brings you to a sci-fi future with magic, and Dreadlands puts you in Viking history with Norse mythology.
Taking it one step further, I threw in the clincher:
Is there someone you can think of who could use a new book?
And as if anyone would say no to that question, I then ask for the close:
Great. Which books would you like to take home today?
It’s really that simple.

And the Results Are In

On day two and three of the Comic Con, after changing my pitch, I sold twice as many books as the author seated next to me. Seriously. That’s an incredible increase in sales. Why did it work? Because I promised the customer they were buying an experience from me that was similar to one they already knew they enjoyed, rather than telling them about my book and why they should buy it. And it worked. Why don’t you give it a try and let me know how changing your pitch changed your sales. And just for fun, check out the video of Peter Falk from The Princess Bride.     . . . .Jaimie Engle

It sounds like a great plan.  I’m going to see how I can pitch my books based on my readers’ experiences. Have any of you tried something like this?  How do you draw people to your books?

Coming soon!


  1. Wow! Sounds terrific! I will have to try this! Pitch for my WIP could be - Set in 1952 against the backdrop of the cold war, DRIVE is the story of Teen-aged Twins, Romance, and the rise of a Nascar hero.

  2. Interesting! I hope it works for you!

    1. Thanks. So do I. I'm still working on my pitch for Pairs at Nationals.

  3. Such good tips. Now if I can remember them when I'm trying to sell my own books. I just ordered a good number of each of my books to sell hopefully during the holidays. I'll let you know how that goes. Good luck with PAIRS #2.

    1. I'm trying her ideas on a poster I'll use at a book-signing for PAIRS AT NATIONALS next weekend at the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den in Orlando. I'm interested to see how people respond.