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Posts Tagged ‘Don’t Sleep on Planes’

You’ll Sell More Books if You Don’t Sleep on the Plane

Zach Hall is just a guy – a guy who one day decided NOT to sleep on the plane and, zach hallinstead, talk to the person next to him. From that one instance, he made a shift and began talking to people on every flight. Some wanted to engage – others were, well, sleeping. But the thing is, this process of endeavoring to engage changed his mindset, and it led to a book called … drumroll, please … Don’t Sleep on Planes.

This is his Twitter picture, so you get the feeling he’s a bit of an extrovert, anyway, right? But there’s still a lesson in his method for all of us. One piece of advice I give to every author I meet is to know who their ideal reader is – because it’s really challenging to market anything when you don’t know who the audience is.

But right behind that is a complimentary suggestion: be fearless in talking with everyone you meet about your book. That doesn’t mean clubbing them over the head with it – or walking up to a stranger and saying, “Hi, I’m Laura. Would you like to buy my book?” It means looking for openings – and when people ask you what you do (which the alllllways do), tell them you’ve written (or are writing) a book.

The inevitable next question is, “Oh? What’s it about?” So have a good, engaging answer prepared – but keep it short. If they’re interested, they’ll ask more. If they’re not, don’t chase them down to tell them about what a good book it is, how long you worked on it, how it’s suitable for all ages, and how they really, really need to buy it.

don't sleep on planesNow besides being an extrovert, Zach has another seeming advantage: he works in the marketing department for the Arizona Diamondbacks, an MLB team that made the playoffs this season for the first time since 2011. One thing that changed once Zach wrote his book was that he stopped talking about the Diamondbacks when he was out on his own time. He made business cards to promote his book and a baseball cap that says “Don’t Sleep on Planes,” and when people ask him what he does, his first answer is no longer that he’s in marketing for a baseball team.

Has Zach has leveraged his position with the Diamondbacks to his personal advantage? Of course. But before you start whining that you “don’t have a job like that,” think about the opportunities the work you do outside of writing does offer you. What kinds of people do you meet? How willing are you to talk with them on a one-on-one basis about anything other than work? How willing are you to advocate for or support the things they’re doing in their lives – be it their fitness efforts, their kids’ cookie/giftwrapping/calendar sales, or the fundraiser for their spouse’s pet charity?

An important rule of success is showing up – but it’s not just THAT you show up, it’s HOW you show up. Do you want to be left alone to sleep on the plane, or take a chance and talk to the guy in the seat next to you who happens to own a multi-million dollar business, invites you to speak at a training seminar for his staff, and buys 100 copies of your book? It’s totally up to you.

Laura

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