Monday, October 7, 2013

Market Your Book In Person. Connect With Your Readers. Check Out UncommonYA

Every writer knows that writing the book and selling it to a publisher is only part of the project. You have tons of work to market what you’ve created. There are all sorts of online ideas for enticing readers to buy your book, and that’s great, but when I thought about my own book buying habits, I had to admit that I don't like social media as the only way to showcase my work. 

Other authors say the same thing. Here’s what one author wrote just recently.

“I don’t wait to buy a book until I read the first chapters in the library or a bookstore. I buy a lot of books that I haven’t read one sentence in. Since Amazon, I buy a lot books I’ve never picked up in my hands.”

So why do many people buy books?

  • They’ve heard the author speak.
  • They’ve gone to a book signing.
  • A friend said, “Don’t miss this one.”

There's nothing better than talking to someone who has just brought your book!
It’s personal.

One great personal way to put your book into the hands of readers is to do a workshop. I’ve done several of these. Some for young adults and more recently, with the release of my Middle Grade novel, for eight to twelve-year-olds. 

These writers are my readers, too. And I love knowing them.
This year I did a Young Writers’ Workshop at our town center. Twenty, eight to twelve year-olds attended, and every one of them wrote a story or created a draft of a story, so they had a taste of the process. I created the workshop around three simple premises.

  • In the beginning, the main characters must want or need something badly.

  • In the middle, the main characters can’t get what they want or need. Every time the reader thinks that might happen, snatch that something away. 

  • In the end, the main characters either succeed (happy ending) or fail (sad ending) to get what they want or need.

The workshop is about four hours and when they’re done they at least have an idea about the structure of a story and what holds a reader’s interest. That’s a great time to let these readers hear your first chapter.

They write amazing stories.

I read once that you don’t have to do much to persuade people to buy your book. Readers only need a single reason. So at the end of the workshop, I read the first chapter of my book and ask them if I’ve done what I told them to do in the beginning part of their stories? I ask if they like my characters based on this brief sample. And I always ask them to guess what they think will happen in the middle? In the end? 

I’ve created curiosity. I’ve created the single reason for someone to want to read my story. I never take home any unsold books. The kids have the experience of getting their own autographed copy, and each year I have at least four who return to do the workshop again. The only problem I have is writing a new book in time for that next workshop. 

Have you had a chance to meet your readers in person? What was your experience? Do you prefer in-person promotion or social media online? Any hints for other writers who are telling about their books? 


There's a new group of Young Adult authors that is offering some
books for the teen+ reader. I hope you'll take a look and spread the word.



  1. That's cool you've done those workshops. It is a connection that often drives people to get our books.

  2. I love the workshop and how you broke it down so it feels attainable. Most kid writers stop writing because they think they just can't do it, but you let them know they can.

  3. This weekend I did my first book signing. It was great getting a chance to meet readers in person and share conversation beyond my books. Just chatting was awesome.

  4. This weekend I did my first book signing. It was great getting a chance to meet readers in person and share conversation beyond my books. Just chatting was awesome.

  5. How great you do the workshops! I've done some with my kids' classes and I always leave feeling inspired. I'm looking forward to taking the next step and figuring out how to connect with readers.

  6. It must be great to see the kids reactions to your book first hand. Surely the best sort of publicity.

  7. Workshops with kids are a lot of fun. I always enjoy doing my characterization sessions.

    A lot of my book sales come from my seminars. When people hear you speak, there is a connection, and they are more likely to buy your book.

  8. Great ideas. I think I mostly buy books because I hear someone recommend one.

  9. You're right. It's great talking with someone who just bought your book. Or even gave a copy to free. I do that from time to time. Hit up a total stranger and give them a signed copy.

  10. Love it! I've been entertaining the idea of setting up a workshop through our library system for teens. (And maybe one for our city as well.) You've got me inspired and rearing to go!

  11. It must be so adorable to see all those young creative minds at work.

    I always get the preview chapters at Amazon. It's the number one selling point for me'cause at I'm reading and then the preview is over I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! So, I buy it on the spot (most of the time).

  12. Hi, Lee,
    I like the fact that you used your books as a comparison to what you taught in the workshop. Nothing better than a good sample.

    The workshops I've done is for adults and yes, they do read my books.

  13. Awesome that you did the workshop. Sounds like a great way to connect with kids who are your target audience.

  14. That's so neat! I wish there were workshops like that when I was a kid. :)

  15. That's so cool. I need to do more real life events...

  16. Nice getting out there, Lee! I haven't quite mastered the in person marketing yet.

  17. That sounds scary and fun! I hope to be as brave when it's my turn to promote my book.

  18. I always believed in the personal touch, and when it's time for my book, that's what I'll do.

    Workshops are a great way to reach out to potential new readers and have fun, too...

  19. I'm an introvert with social anxiety, so the whole face to face with readers thing is a little off-putting for me, but I can totally see how it attracts/retains readers. Great workshop, and great idea! I'm considering going to writing conferences and doing books signings, but I'm building myself up to it. Not there yet though :D X

  20. All good tips. I have done many booktalks and workshops, and I need to get back into that.

  21. *taps fingers impatiently* Where is that irregular fella', Gary?

    Yay n'stuff, your wait is over. The positive, direct interaction between your illustrious self and some lucky person who has purchased your book, is darned good and I'm sure it makes you feel all fuzzy, wuzzy...

    Workshops are an excellent angle. And even better, the empowerment it creates for those youngsters involved. The writing future right before your eyes.

    A very enlightening posting, Lee. Curiosity breeds curiosity and inspiration breeds inspiration.

    I have met a number of my readers in person. The experience was positive and upbeat. I have to challenge my own anxieties. And through it all, my laid back demeanour put everybody and myself, more at ease.

    Some have even met Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

    As usual, your irregular and your starstruckest fan,


  22. You're so personable I can easily see you working with kids, teachers, parents, or librarians. I love the pics and the advice. I hope your sales reflect your hard work - they should. You deserve it.

    (I've tried to email your blog addy and Facebook, and seem to be languishing in the black hole of spam. Could you please contact me at: )

  23. I haven't met my Readers face to face yet, so there are great tips.

    I'll check out uncommonYA.Thanks for the link!

  24. Awesome! You've done great stuff. It's very different out-and-about than online.

  25. These workshops sounds fabulous! I love the idea of connecting with your readers in this way. I am sure the kids write some fantastic stories and it is nice for you to share your work with them- win- win. :) Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  26. It's easier to do things online, but I love interacting with readers in person.

  27. It's wonderful that you were able to interact with your audience, and teach them something meaningful in the process! I would have loved participating in a writing workshop when I was in school.


  28. What a wonderful post, Lee. And those workshops are great ideas. You've got my wheels spinning!

    M.L. Swift, Writer

  29. Hi Lee - bet the kids loved the day .. such a fun way to connect with the community .. and share your knowledge and enthusiasm for writing ...

    Cheers Hilary


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