In the good old days – I’m talking about two decades ago – a budding writer would launch his new book at a well-advertised event to which he’d invite a large number of people then hit the road and personally visit as many bookstores across the country as he could where he’d try to sell as many of his books as he was able to.
Of course, COVID put “paid” to that marketing technique.
Tempora mutantur … as the Latin saying goes. Times change.
In 2001 (the year I started writing in earnest) I spent my Saturday and Sunday afternoons traveling form Halifax to Vancouver, visiting bookstores – over sixty of them. I estimate that I devoted a total of 180 hours (three hours in each bookstore) to this endeavor during which I met and spoke with more than seven thousand potential readers. The next year I did the same, traveling from Montreal to New York City.
Here is what I learned from meeting fifteen thousand people.
- Two kinds of people visit bookstores: a) those who know exactly what they want and b) those who come in to browse. The a) people enter, attend to their business and leave. The b) people dawdle, they do not know what they are looking for.
- Therefore, to sell one’s book, one has to find a way to attract the b) people’s attention somehow – for example, with a totally unusual book cover. My latest book, WHITEWASH, has such a cover.
- Once the prospective reader has the book in his hand one has to provide him/her with an easy way to learn what the book is about. A short and clear synopsis on the back of the book achieves this. Again, WHITEWASH qualifies.
- The majority of my readers consists of women aged 35 and over. They buy not only for themselves, but also gifts for their family and friends. When they read themselves, often at night in poor light in bed, they prefer books with a big, clear font. WHITEWASH is printed with such a font.
- Women like an exciting plot, but not one that is so terrifying that it stops them from falling asleep. WHITEWASH qualifies again.
- Women favour books that are not too heavy so that they can hold them without straining while reading lying down. Here, WHITEWASH fails: it weighs two pounds. You cannot have light-weight and large font.
”Doesn’t matter,” said one of my readers to me the other day, laughing. “WHITEWASH is a double feature. When you get tired of reading you can use the book for doing weight-lifting exercises with it.”
A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL