What's the Secret to Selling Your Book?
The 15 authors in the inaugural Grub Street Launch Lab stumbled upon one answer to this question two Saturdays ago.
Our guest, author and content czar C.C. Chapman, had just wrapped up his talk. And then he asked: "Why should I buy your book? Imagine it's just you and me, chatting, and you have to convince me."
One by one, we went around the table, hawking our recently published or soon-to-be-released titles.
Here's what we discovered: Pitching to C.C. in person was much easier than reciting a one-liner intended for general marketing.
Most of us began our pitches like this: "C.C., you should buy my novel because...."
Or: "C.C., as the father of two girls, here's why you'd enjoy my book...."
Or: "C.C., listen: My book is ideal for someone like you...."
Addressing C.C. made everything simple. In the same way that a phone call is more personal than a press conference, and an e-mail is more casual than an essay, speaking directly to one person took away the trembles that a few of us still feel about pitching. And that's because it didn't feel as if we were pitching. It felt more like a chat.
So, what's the secret to selling your book? During his talk, C.C. emphasized that there's no silver-bullet answer to this question. But one thing's for sure: It doesn't hurt to be more relaxed -- and more personal -- when you're making your pitch.
Sarah Gerkensmeyer (What You Are Now Enjoying) -- A collection of short stories, one of which features Wonder Woman. Stewart O'Nan calls Sarah "an original, a sneaky sorceress of a storyteller.”
Ilan Mochari (Zinsky the Obscure) -- My first novel. Kirkus Reviews calls it: "A powerful debut with Dickensian touches in its heartbreaking and occasionally humorous chronicle of the life of a modern young man."
Maria Mutch (Know the Night: A Memoir) -- Maria has combined the stories of her son, who has both Down's Syndrome and autism, with that of Byrd's stay in the interior of Antarctica during his second expedition, 1933-1935.
M.L. Nichols (The Parent Backpack) -- The goal of M.L.'s book: to empower parents to navigate schools successfully and connect to their kid’s education in effective, meaningful ways. It's also the goal of her web site, which is a treasure trove of parental resources.
Henriette Power (The Clover House) -- Muse and the Marketplace attendees and short-story submitters know Henriette as the editor of The Drum literary magazine. This is her first novel, about a young woman discovering the secret to her mother’s wartime youth in Greece.
Barbara Ross (Blood Moon) -- An anthology of New England crime stories, from Level Best Books, which Barbara is editing and curating. Her mystery novel, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, was published in 2010.