It isn’t the money that makes direct sales of your book satisfying

While direct sales are only the third highest sales channel for “The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal,” they have been the most personally gratifying.

By “direct sales,” I mean sales that occur when I hand a printed book to a potential reader, usually signed.

Sixteen percent of my total sales have come through direct channels. Some direct sales have come through my friends, who play the middle-men. My mother, for example, introduced the book to her book club, and the artist who created the painting for the cover purchased a number of books for Christmas presents. It’s great having proselytizers because word-of-mouth is powerful advertising so enlist friends who are well-connected in promoting your book.

But most direct sales have come because of one simple act: I opened my mouth.

I wrote about my book on Facebook. I introduced my book to my book club. I mentioned my book at other club and business meetings. I talked about my book at shared meals and bed-and-breakfasts.

I also walked into bookstores and asked about book signings (that’s how I got a gig at the bookstore here on South Padre Island next month).

The best attended event was one I scheduled at a coffee shop in Waite Park, Minn., near where most of the action in the book was set. The lesson there is: Choose locations for book signings where you already have some interest or fans.

When you have formal events, promote them widely especially with press releases, online news sources and Facebook. I enjoyed a great crowd when I spoke at a library in Waukee, Iowa, partially because my friends there talked me up and partially because the local newspaper posted an interview online.

Having an author event? Bring a smile, introduce yourself to everyone (don’t assume they know you), have a fabulous pen for signing your books, bring change if you’re selling them and get yourself a Square mobile card reader if you intend to take credit cards.

And, of course: Bring copies of your book. I buy copies 30 at a time from CreateSpace because that’s how many fit into one shipping box, and it’s a reasonable investment in inventory for me.

It is so fun and personally satisfying to meet readers who connect with my work in some way. I’ve met aspiring writers (including a couple who also tackled National Novel Writing Month), a woman whose name is also “Monica Lee,” women who have been in similarly painful relationships and fans who “know someone who knows someone who knows someone” who was a teacher or band director who got himself in legal trouble.

The best conversations come from men and women who can relate — in some way — with the pain of having secrets. Some of them have even told me their secrets, with great relief, I think, and I am honored to be part of that act of confession and release. That’s why I wrote the book.

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