Most of us authors are pretty introverted, quiet types. We prefer to communicate through written word, and will rarely say anything to your face (though we might put you in a book and kill you if you piss us off). In fact, the very thought of interacting with our audience (or any audience, for that matter) can be downright terrifying, and so we do our very best to bury our nose in our work, and forget that the bigger part of writing is not, in fact, the writing itself at all.
It’s the selling. After all, you could write the next great American novel, but if no one is interested, knows about it, or cares to read it, then you might as well have just gone on a a long vacation. It would have been a better use of your time, and certainly a better use of the money you didn’t make.
No—selling a book is by far the hardest part there is to being an author, and not just because it’s inherently difficult to sell people on things that they don’t know much about, but mostly because we’re usually not very good about it. For example, I still struggle to this day when people ask me what my book’s about. “It’s, um … it’s about a girl, I guess? Who’s depressed? And she cuts herself. And stuff.” Ah. I’ll be looking that up as soon as I get home.
Putting yourself out there, selling yourself and your work, is a difficult process. And it starts with little steps. I’ve given away far more copies of 22 Scars than I’ve sold, and for the moment that suits me just fine; I knew I wasn’t going to be making a fortune on the book in any meaningful timescale, but I’d much rather just know that people are reading it. And so far, they are—and leaving reviews, which is even better!
A second part of establishing yourself as an author, though, is getting to know the community of people that relate to your book. And while sometimes that means frequenting online chatrooms and establishing a social media presence, other times it means having to actually step outside of your house and go and talk to someone.
And as hard as it is, I’ve found so far that it’s more than worth it. I’ve done one book signing back in December, and I have another one coming up on Friday at a local Coffee Shop. And surprisingly, I’m really looking forward to it. As crazy as it sounds, there can be an element of fun in interacting with real people—as scary as it also is—because you get a chance to see firsthand if your book is actually of any interest to anyone. There’s a big difference between someone signing up for a free copy, or downloading a Kindle version for a couple of bucks, and plopping down $12.99 for a physical copy of a book. It means a lot more, and not just because of the cost.
For someone to willingly pay for a hard copy of a book tells you that they’re probably genuinely interested in reading it. That they want to know more. And that they’re very likely to tell their friends and family about this weird book they just picked up from a weird local author.
And that, really, is what it all comes down to. Just getting people to pick it up. Getting people interested.
And getting people to read.