The other part of your sales technique is the pitch.
I’ve performed my pitch thousands of times. I’ve changed it, and it’s evolved over time.
Who here likes to watch movies?
Who here watches movie trailers to determine whether or not they’ll go watch a movie?
I’ll just give you my pitch, and I want you to observe how I do it.
My pitch is no longer than a minute, preferably thirty seconds. It’s a boiled down version of the setting, intro, and main character’s first dilemna, then, a “to be continued” so that they need to read what comes next. Write several examples and try it on your family and friends. Ask them which version is the most compelling.
What did I do? What are elements that you noticed in the pitch?
I looked at people in the eye. I was animated. I was enthusiastic. I wanted a reply from my audience. I tried to make them laugh. I tried to let them connect the dots in the story. I left it on a high note, and now people want to read the book. They need to, to find out what it’s about.
That’s what a good movie trailer does, for you to want to go see it.
You, now, have to make a good book trailer for people to want to read your books.
Your pitch should be between 30 seconds and a minute, or else you will lose the person’s interest.
You should do your pitch to anyone who approaches your table. I usually start off with: “this is my newest book!” and the other will say: “Wonderful! What’s it about?” Then I’ll get right into it.
Even if people don’t answer, I’ll tell them anyway, and some get a quizzical look on their faces, and will pick it up, look it over, and want to buy it. If there is a person at your table, they are a potential reader of your work. Don’t let them get away without telling them a bit about what your stories are.
So, let’s do something right now:
I want you to take a piece of paper and a pencil, and I want you to think about your newest creation, or if you don’t write, perhaps the last good book you read. Or a movie. I want you to write: Where it is taking place, When is it taking place, Who it is about, Why is there an unfolding problem, and how will the main character deal with it.
If it helps, try thinking in that movie trailer voice that you hear when listening to them.
It doesn’t matter if you put it in that particular order, as long as you make it coherent. You should make it a cliffhanger ending, though, because that’s what will make people want to find out more. You’ve got five minutes.
Have a few people read what they’ve got.
Good job! Don’t forget to work on it, make it better; make it sound exciting. You might think: My subject matter isn’t that exciting. Thing is, you liked it when you wrote it, so it must have a special meaning to you. Try to convey that feeling to your potential new reader.
The thing is, you won’t sell to every person you encounter. You won’t sell to every second person, either. In my experience, you sell to every twenty people you tell your pitch to. That’s not counting the amount of people who just walk by saying “No thank you.” When you tell them your pitch. This does not mean you should give up. Ever.
Unless you’re Margaret Atwood or Stephen King, no one knows your name, and nobody cares. Yet. It’s by getting your book in as many readers’ hands as possible that your name will start to grow, then others will look for your books by name, whatever you may write.
That’s why you have to talk to everybody. I do. Every single person that walks by my booth. And you get a ton of rejection. Why? Because they don’t know what they’re missing. It’s not their fault.
But you don’t give up, and you persevere, and eventually you have a group of people in front of your booth and then three people buy a copy of one book, and one other person buys a copy of your other book, and you feel better, and you keep going. Eventually, you’ll have sold 50, 100, or 150 books, and you’ll feel that coming out to the book sale was a pretty savvy move on your part.