As authors we worry frequently about when the right time to pitch a book might be. While it's never a good idea to be brash, as an author it's very likely that your writing reflects your reality. Therefore, almost every situation you encounter will likely tie itself to you and your book. Thus, the general rule is: if the situation fits -- talk about it! Unless of course you're in one of the following circumstances:
1. At a funeral. It is our responsibility as citizens to be there for our neighbors first and foremost. Funerals are always emotional situations that need support, kindness, and displays of love more than they need book marketing. So, be there for your loved one in person and in spirit. Chances are, if you’re at a funeral, many of the people there will know of you and your book, and they’ll likely perceive you as a more tender and relatable person if you don’t try to upsell your book at that time.
2. In the bathroom. Sometimes, people are chatty in public restrooms. It’s a fact that is uncomfortable for some but totally normal for others. Play it safe here, and don’t assume just because you’re in the same public restroom at the same time that your neighbor wants to hear all about your book. Of course, if they recognize you and ask you about it first, by all means, take advantage of this marketing opportunity. But more often than not, play it safe and keep any personal chatting to a bare minimum in the bathroom.
3. During an argument. Whether it’s an argument with someone you know and love, an argument with an acquaintance, an argument with a colleague, or an argument with a stranger, the best way to get out of heated situations is not by pitching your book, even if it’s all about how to handle conflict or something of the like. During arguments, emotions run high, and people don’t often think logically. Therefore, even if you’re able to come down from the argument and think clearly enough to realize that this moment relates closely to something you’ve written about, your counterpart may not be ready to stop arguing, and they are probably not ready to learn about a new book, either. Instead, wait until arguments are over, closure is achieved, apologies are exchanged, and an understanding is reached. Then, if you still think your book relates well to the situation, bring it up when the two of you are in a better place.
4. At a court hearing. Again, our focus comes down to being respectful. Regardless of whether you’re at the courthouse to support someone, to do research, to serve jury duty, or for personal reasons, it is not the place to sell your book. Maintain focus on the reason you are there, and be the best you can be for that reason. Who knows? Even if you aren’t there for research, you may learn something new that can be used in one of your next books.
5. During sermons. Church is for learning, loving, and strengthening, not for selling. Sermons are carefully planned out and delivered for a specific reason; don’t let that reason pass you by because you were too busy trying to talk up your book to the woman next to you who looks like she’d really enjoy reading what you’ve written. However, church can be an incredible place to promote your book or even do a book reading. Talk to your local church about what opportunities they’d be interested in, but make sure to do this after the sermon!
6. At concerts. Have you ever been to a concert, sporting event, etc., had a fantastic time, and then when you’re getting in the car ready to go home and reflect on the amazing time you had, you see that little flapping piece of paper stuck to your windshield? You have to get out of the cozy, comfy car, retrieve the advertisement which usually never pertains to anything you’re interested in, and only then can you finally be on your way home. This situation is comparable to trying to sell your book to someone at a concert. Your fellow concert attendees are there for one reason, and it’s the same reason you’re there: to enjoy a show! Don’t take away their focus, or yours for that matter, from the event you all paid to go see. This could result in a potential buyer feeling annoyed, much like they would if they had an ad stuck to their windshield, and you may be burning more bridges than building!
7. During wedding ceremonies. Celebrate the lovely couple, rejoice in the company of family and friends, dance the night away, and eat a lot of cake! Those are the things everyone wants to do at a wedding, and those are the things you should do, too! Even though there is a lot of down time at weddings, and they are often perfect opportunities to get to know people you haven’t met before or don’t know well, it can come off as tacky if you try to sell your own product while others are celebrating a loving union of two blessed people.
8. During the birth of your child (or anyone else's!). This one seems like a no-brainer, right? But, if you think about it, unless you’re in the room and participating in the birth, you are going to be in the waiting room for a very long time. Making small talk is inevitable, and actually helps to pass the time, but again, don’t detract from the miracle you are all waiting for by trying to sell your book. Much like at a funeral, if you are present for the birth of a child, the chances are high that you’ll know the other people who are also waiting. Therefore, they’ll most likely know you are a writer, and if they ask about any projects you have going on, give a brief answer, but focus the conversation back to the real reason you’re all there: to welcome another human being to this world!
9. While doing any extreme sport (please focus!). Safety first! If there is danger involved, focus on making it through safely, not on making a buck! If you’re doing an extreme sport with a group of people, wait until afterwards when everyone is safe, happy and full of adrenaline; then maybe bring up your book, if you can connect it to the situation you all survived together! Just remember to keep the shop talk to times of complete safety!
10. While eating and your mouth is full. If you aren’t abiding by basic manners, like not speaking when your mouth is full, chances are you’re not promoting a marketable image for yourself or your book. Furthermore, if you’re talking through a meal with friends, family, or even people you don’t know well, unless the meal is specified as a business meeting, it’s best to not mix business with the pleasure of eating good food with good people.
Rochelle Carter is the Publisher at Ellechor Media & Associates, LLC (www.ellechormedia.com), an award-winning publishing company with rave reviews. She is also the award-winning author of The 7-Step Guide To Authorpreneurship (http://j.mp/PublishRight), an international bestseller that has been widely endorsed by other bestselling authors and industry professionals.
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