Readers, pervert, get your head out of the gutter. Although, to be fair, I guess I could have titled the article The Art of Getting Readers to avoid confusion, but where's the fun in that?
Anyway, so you wrote something and you edited something and after all the bleeding and crying you've done to get this thing as pretty as can be, you set it free into the world. There are a number of ways to do that, but for the purpose of clarity lets just look at how to get readers to check out your book at retailers.
Buy them a drink.
Does that ever actually work? I mean, really. You go to a bar, spot a hottie and pop a squat on the stool next to hers. She crosses her legs and glances at you out of the corner of her eye. At least, you think she does. She could have been checking the location of the bartender who just happens to be standing on the other side of you. Doesn't matter. She knows you're there and you know it. So you drop some cheesy line and offer to buy her a drink. Seriously, does that ever actually work? Probably won't work for readers either, but it doesn't hurt to try. Except your pride. If the plan fails, it might sting just a bit.
Everybody loves swag, even if they don't know what swag is. Swag, my intrepid literary entrepreneur, is free shit. Custom pens with your name and website emblazoned right there on the barrel (that sounds exactly as cool as I thought it would), custom beach bags, custom book marks, custom coffee cups, custom any fucking thing El Escritor desires. Find a good site like Cafe Press and a good designer of graphic art stuffs and just go wild. Well, as wild as you can afford.
Host a Death Match
Offer your custom swag as prizes in a contest, but not just any contest, a social media contest (I may have exaggerated a little calling it a death match, but you might be surprised- they don't call 'em voracious readers for nothing). For example:
"I've got custom doormats for the first ten people who tweet the purchase link to my book!"
Yeah, that could work. Make it something good, though. Ooh! I know... Put your face on custom printed toilet paper. Your tag line could be, "If you don't like my book, you could always wipe your ass with my face and tweet that! Don't forget the hash tag #ThisIsShit." Hey, don't knock free public service announcements. Any publicity is good publicity when you're facing death by obscurity. People may get curious, check out your book, like the description and buy the book. Worst case scenario, thousands will buy it and end up tweeting it's shit. On the bright side, at least you'll trend on Twitter. #FTW!
You may or may not hit it big when you publish a book. Chances are good you'll sell a few copies and if people like the book well enough, they won't beat you over the head with every mistake you've ever made in the form of a one-star review. If they really liked it, they may even give you a glowing four or five-star review. If a lot of people liked it, then a lot of people will recommend it, whether all of them read it or not. Seriously, of all the people talking about 50 Shades, how many do you believe have actually read it? Them's the breaks, kid.
Don't worry about any of that, though. Successful writers do three things: write, publish and advertise. The thing that makes them successful is that they do those things well and consistently. The hardest part is getting started and gaining momentum. Swag can help you get the readers, but you gotta deliver the thing they really want when they open your book. If that chick at the bar ends up going home with you tonight, show her a real good time and she might keep coming back for more. Damn, that's actually a great analogy.
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