For years the term made me cringe. The idea of giving up a week of my life to sit in a room full of disgruntaled people who were also pulled away to service their community was not high up on my ‘things I want to do’ list. You know the saying of be careful what you wish for? Well, I’m here to tell you, if you put that energy out into the universe, it WILL come back to you!
A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of CSI on Hulu and realized that I had never served on a jury. The author part of me automatically thought, “Hey! That would be a great place to find character/story inspiration!” The next day I got a letter in the mail with a date of when to be present at the courthouse to do my service. (I promise I am not making this up!!! Mmm….I wonder if this would work when playing the lottery????) My first thoughts were, “CRAP!”, followed by, “Hey, I’ll get a few free days off of work!” and the author side said, “Perfect! I can have uninterrupted time to write!!!”
Monday arrived and I got to the courthouse on time to perform my duty. The first few hours were pretty quiet. By the time we returned from lunch people opened up and started talking. At one table sat a group of people who pulled out cards and started playing Spades. I had my pen and paper and went to work on the rough outline of my next book. In between I had conversations about books, and eventually, mentioned that I was a writer. That of course garnered a lot of interest and it was an opportunity to talk about my genre, introduce my brand, and tell them about my upcoming book signing at our local Barnes & Noble. Several people said they’d buy my books which of course put a smile on my face.
The next morning when I arrived, I made sure I had bookmarks that have my logo, book covers, and website information. I made sure to give them to the group I’d been friendly with the day before, and kept an eye out for anyone else I could hook. I was very flattered when a young man who had been a part of the Spades game came over and said, “I thought I’d heard of you before. I Googled you when I got home and read your bio!” (This goes to show you that the work you put into your website and social networking sites, while from time to time can seem to not do anything to sell books or build your brand, actually works!When a reader can Google your name and find an archive of online information supporting who you are and what you do, it builds credibility and sparks interest. If you need advice on how to do this, follow this link to my previous post, Have You Googled Yourself?)
Before long, I was summoned with 35 others to go to a judges courtroom in order to go through the jury pool process. If you’ve never been called for jury duty, this means that you are questioned by the attorneys as to whether or not you’ll be a candidate to fit on the jury panel. The questions you are asked will depend on what type of case is being presented, but either way, you are required to stand up and tell a little bit about yourself, such as your name, family status, and employment. I shared my information, ending with the fact that I am an author first, and librarian second. Now, to some of my fellow jury pool members, this wasn’t new because I had been sharing information about my books to anyone who would listen. Then I was asked what type of books I write. My answer; “Interracial Romance and Women’s Fiction.”
Then someone on the back row decided to blurt out: “That’s porn!”
Now, this scene could have ended two ways. I could have ignored the response and let it sit in the air and let people think that the woman was making a valid point… or respond.
I chose the later.
Taking a deep breath and forcing my voice to stay as pleasant as possible, I turned and replied: “I don’t write porn. You’re referring to Erotica such as 50 Shades of Gray. I write Women’s Fiction which is completely different.”
My response garnered more questions from both attorneys which lead me to explaining why I decided to write, what type of stories I tell, and the fact that my books are not just geared towards women readers, that I also have male readers as well. The last thing I said before sitting down was: “My books are about the character development of both men and women. In fact, the highest rated review my first novel has received can be found on Amazon and was written by a male reader.”
When we were dismissed for a break, five women followed me out and asked for more information about my books. By time I got home and checked my sales states on Amazon,the sales numbers had risen for ALL of the books, including Nobody’s Business which, at the time, set for pre-sale.
So, what is the point to this story?
Often times I hear about authors who keep the fact that they are an author to a close circle of friends or family. Some have no choice but to stand behind an online presence because of work related issues. For whatever reason you do or do not decide to sell yourself when you are out is up to you. When it comes to marketing and promoting your brand, your books, it’s all about the amount of time and effort you put into it. My personal experiences have shown that I gain more readers, see a spike in sales, and grow my fan base faster when I talk to people face-to-face, versus spending hour online popping into chat rooms or spend hours of hanging out on FB and Twitter trying to engage with readers who have already read the books and are waiting on the next one. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it when my phone alerts me to a Facebook private message from a reader who has read one of my novels, popped over to my website and read one of my short stories and want to take a few minutes to chat or ask a question. If I have a moment, I will respond, answer questions, and appreciate each and every one. But my favorite thing of all it meeting new people and feeling confident enough in my writing and my bran to say, “Yes, I am a published author.”
If you haven’t had a chance to do so, I encourage each and everyone of you to try it at least once. You’ll be surprised by the results!
Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!