The Best Kept Book Marketing Secret: Author Parties
Few Americans have ever been invited to an author party, but most say they would love to attend one this year. It’s definitely the most fun way to sell 50 to 250 copies of your new book in a single evening.
Simply ask friends of yours with a nice larger home who love to host parties to host one for you and provide the refreshments. For your very first author party, invite 100 to 125 of your friends. Thereafter, ask hosts to invite their friends. Many times they will be honored to do just that.
So, how does an author party help you sell so many books?
First, I recommend tossing the word “sell.” Suppose your book retails for $20, Instead, offer it for a suggested donation of $10 or $15 (but expect to average $14 to $22).
Second, I recommend abandoning the till. Instead, do what many stores do now and let individuals ring up their own orders, so to speak. How? Simply put $30 of change (a $10 bill, three $5 bills, and five $1 bills) inside a basket lined with a decorative cloth napkin. That way each person can toss cash or a check into the basket, take one or more books, and ask you to sign them. Just make sure you stay far away from that table all evening. And make sure no one else watches the till or “helps” people.
Why? Because you don’t want to score a 2%, 5%, or even 10% sales rate. Instead, authors I’ve coached who have done dozens of author parties typically enjoy 100% to 400% sales rates (that’s 1 to 4 books sold for each person who comes to the party). Why such huge sales rates? See the paragraph above and then proceed to the next two counter-intuitive steps below.
Third, I recommend piling up your books as haphazardly as possible on a sturdy table. If you stack the books nice and neatly, you’ll kill your sales. Why? I can only guess. It may have to do with humanity’s embedded desire for order. The only way to bring order to a messy pile of books, of course, is to pick up several and buy them.
Fourth, read (yes, read) a carefully scripted 59-second talk, without humor or hype. The more linear, straightforward and “boring,” the better. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. In fact, it works very well. The goal is for each individual to resonate your book’s title, target audience, and promised benefits. In other words, you want each person to self-identify: “I want that for myself. I also want to share it with others. I’m going to buy several copies.” (So, how does one write such a script? Send a quick email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send the outline to you.)
Do author parties really work? Just ask a friend of mine, Bob Mortimer, author of Hope and Courage Across America. Bob had been slowly writing his memoir for years. I finally asked, “Bob, if I promise your book will be published, would you please write faster?” He said “yes” and finished his book a few short months later.
Better yet? When it was published, Bob lined up 20 author parties in 21 days driving straight across America on Hwy. 10 from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida. He shipped 200 copies of his book to arrive to each location a day or two before he arrived. In those three weeks, he made more money than any previous year.
True, Bob Mortimer is the superhero of author parties. And, this doesn’t work in every setting. (Nice larger homes seem to be ideal, but other venues certainly can work.)
Then again, I’ve attended parties where a rookie author doing this for the very first time has made anywhere from $400 to $5,300 in two hours.
I’ve also shown New York Times best-selling authors how to do this and rocket their “sales” from 5% (their historic average) to 700% (at their very next event).
The most important tip?