Continuing on the subject of promotion, I should begin by saying that I'm no kind of sales whiz. I cannot shove my book into a person's hands and insist that she will love it. I can't even do the often-suggested meet-'em-with-a-question: "Do you read...(mysteries, romances, etc.)?" As a patron I would hate being pushed into a corner by an author, and the Golden Rule applies. I can't do it unto others. So what do I do to promote? Two things work well for me.
First, at signings in bookstores I create an attractive display and then walk away from it. People can wander over and peruse the book if that's what they like to do, without me hovering behind the table like a fisherman dangling bait. When a person enters the store I offer him or her a bookmark . I've only had one person ever refuse this gift, so everyone else walks away with all the information needed to order the book should they decide to do so later. I say something like, "This is my new book, which I'm signing here today." They either want to talk about it right then or they don't. If they don't, I move away. It's rewarding to note that often a person goes on as if she isn't interested but then circles around to look at the books on the table. Of course I am available to answer questions at that point. People today are used to resisting sales pressure, so I like to give them time to make their own decision. Make them aware of your purpose (because they will ask you where the bathroom is if you don't), make your book attractively available, and be ready to chat pleasantly about whatever they want to know. That works for Non-Pushy Me.
Second, I seek other venues. I've sold more books by far at events than I've sold at bookstores. When I began thinking about sales, I searched for something I could provide that would bring people to me. People seldom flock to an unknown author's signings, but once they're there, I can offer the book . Being an educator, I'm not afraid of public speaking. I devised a presentation that I offered to libraries for free. It is an hour's discussion of books (I started with mysteries) and at the end I sell my book. It's so popular that I've added a second topic (historical novels) and am working on a third (encouraging others to read). I also offer a writing workshop that I charge for. Few attendees at this workshop buy books because they're more interested in what I know than what I wrote. I've also done a Renaissance Fair, which was fun but did not net many sales. I sell as many books at a one-hour book talk as I did in two days at the Fair. (However, I gave away a ton of bookmarks at the Fair, so we can't discount possible sales from that.) We have to consider events that bring in people who read AND put them in the mood to buy a book (probably not a Fair). Anyway, speaking/appearing is a chance to sell books, get your name out there so people recognize it when they see it again, and create a base for future reference. (Of course I ask for email addresses wherever I go.)
These two things work well for me. Tomorrow I'll talk about developing contacts.