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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Subtle Selling

I went to a new dentist yesterday and I was relieved and pleasantly surprised that no one in the office tried to "sell" me a treatment, pad the invoice with special toothpastes, or scold me for not flossing enough.

The last dentist I went to constantly urged me to replace my old fillings, or buy the latest gadget. I felt so harassed that if it hadn't been for the fact that I was moving anyway, I was determined not to come back.

This got me to thinking about how we 'sell' our books to the public. When I used to write ad copy, one of the most important aspects of the ad was to ASK for the sale in every pitch. We were taught that the consumer wants to be told what to do.

Now there could be some validity to that given the success of those shopping channels and infomercials. But I've always felt that subtle was more effective--and a lot less noisy.

Yes, I wanted them to buy whatever product I was pitching for the ad I designed, but instead of asking directly for the sale, I preferred to give them all the good reasons on why they should buy the product.

If I were advertising dog food, I would note the things a dog lover wants to hear. I'd tell them what nutrients it had, pictures of a clean and modern facility where the food was made, or testimonials on how much healthier other owners' dogs looked. I tried to design the ad from the consumer's point of view.

I think you can use the same technique when selling books. Zero in on the audience for your book. If you are pitching to crime readers, focus on a blurb that highlights the mystery in the story. If it's a romance, insist on a cover that represents them well.

Use review quotes. People want to know what other people thought of the story.

Use your expertise. Are you a diehard history buff? Make sure your readers know how much research went into your time travel story. I'm much more likely to pick up a book set around pyramids from someone who's actually been to the pyramids.

Invite people to visit your website or blog. People who know you, are much more likely to buy from you.

Give them a peek. Offer a (short) taste of your work. If it's in an actual ad or bookmark you probably won't have room for more than a sentence or two. Make sure they're knockouts.

We're so anxious to sell our books that we sometimes forget to be subtle. Offer the best details about your work, and let the reader decide from there if they'll buy.

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini --