Written by A Guest Author April 19th, 2018

How to Politely Sell Your Books to Friends

By Ben Graff

Many writers are introverts, most hate selling, and it is not always easy to develop strategies for approaching existing contacts. Yet established networks provide real opportunities to reach potential readers and should not be ignored. Whilst your circle of friends and readers will be different, there is no reason why they cannot overlap. There are unobtrusive ways of sharing and so long as you approach sensitively and keep sight of what matters most, the potential upside is significant and goes beyond simply selling your work. You are a writer, friend and acquaintance and these boundaries and underlying bonds need to be properly respected.  If you do so, you will find new readers and enrich existing relationships.

  1. The case for reaching out to those you know

We share what is important to us with those that we are close to. There is very little that is more central to your identity then what you choose to write. My initial experiences made this an easier process to repeat with others than perhaps it had been to initiate. I have found friends to be interested in my writing process, the underlying story I have written and the fact that inevitably to write is to open up about yourself (irrespective of what your book happens to be about.)  Where the conversation goes next can be surprising and enriching. Often times, others have told me about a life experience, a project, or shared some other insight that mattered to them that I would not otherwise have learned about. Your book is more than a product, it is also a bridge. It can be amazing to discover what lies on the other side of it.

  1. General and bespoke engagement routes. Find the connectors

Varied strategies can work well with different friendship and acquaintance groups. I wrote an e-mail to work colleagues and brought in cakes to celebrate my book being published. I did not try and sell it directly, but just raised awareness and the word soon spread in the office. Thinking about whether particular acquaintance groups might be interested in certain aspects of your work and tailoring a more bespoke approach can be very effective. Chess is a sub-theme in my book and I will shortly be publishing a chess based extract on our chess club website and writing an email to a wider group of chess players. The club is pleased because it will draw traffic to the site and it not only helps my profile, but also gives a group of potential readers a chance to try before they buy.

Similarly, my daughter has Type 1 diabetes, which I also write about a little and we are using the diabetes Facebook group we are members of to share interest. How many tailored strategies you develop will depend on what you have written, but the more thought you give to this, the more routes you will most likely find to reach existing contacts in a way that makes your material directly relevant to them.

As well as groups, give thought to who the best connectors you know are. I am still in touch with many people I was at University with mainly because of one friend who is just brilliant at organizing parties, sharing the gossip and joining the dots between different friendship groups which twenty years on would otherwise have withered. My book will reach a lot of people solely because of him, and my guess is most of us can think of similar relationships that have the potential to unlock the door to many other potential readers.

If you do happen to know any writers who might be prepared to read (and perhaps even review your work) that can also make a big difference. A friend of mine, Carl Portman, published his first book last year and was good enough to review mine. We have many overlapping friendship circles and the fact that I could draw on his endorsement also helped.

  1. There are ways of doing things

It is important to pick your moments and to read the signs. If I mention my book to someone and they do not appear very interested I do not push the subject. Similarly, I avoid trying to directly monetize my friendships. I make what I’ve done visible, and then if people choose to buy it they know how to do so, but always from a book vendor rather than me personally. For all that your work matters and is important to you, friendship is a two-way street. I always strive to ensure that it is not the only thing I talk about and more importantly still, that I leave sufficient space to listen to others and where their own stories are taking them.

Finally, give thought to whether there are particular friends you might want to give your book to. If there is someone out there who delivered your baby, pulled you out of a well, or is simply the person you always phone when you really need to talk, the least you can do is give them a copy. The same goes for really close family, albeit even there you can encourage them to spread the word to the cousins and other more distant relations. For everybody else, raising awareness in the right way will most likely find you readers and deepen your relationships.

Ben Graff’s first book, Find Another Place, was published on March 28th.







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