Jim Rubart

Since 1994, Jim Rubart has worked with clients such as AT&T/Cingular, RE/MAX, ABC and Clear Channel radio though his company Barefoot Marketing, but his passion is writing fiction. His debut novel ROOMS will be published by B&H Fiction in April. He's also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer, and semi-pro magician. He lives in the Northwest with the world's most perfect wife and his two almost-perfect sons. No, he doesn't sleep much. You can reach him at jlrudini[at]comcast.net

The Most Powerful Marketing Tool in the World
(And It’s FREE!)

In early March I stepped into Hairmasters for a trim of the few hairs I have left.

“How are you doing today?” the lady at the front desk said.

“I’m doing fantastic. The biggest dream of my life has come true.”

“Really? What’s that?”

“I’ve wanted to be an author since fifth grade. On April 1 my first novel will be published. I’m pretty excited. Actually I’m very excited.”

Her eyes widened. “You’re kidding, you wrote a book? That’s awesome. What’s it about?”

“A young Seattle software tycoon inherits a home on the Oregon coast that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul.”

“Ooooo . . . wow, that sounds cool! So tell me . . .”

She proceeded to ask me a bunch of questions about ROOMS. By the time we finished yakking, four other ladies had crowded around me, ready to head across the street to Barnes & Noble on the first of April.

This is marketing. The most powerful marketing you can do for your novel.

Too shy?

Many authors are reticent about promoting themselves and would never be comfortable approaching a stranger about their books. Is that you? No worries; you don’t have to have a gregarious personality to make this work. All you have to do is answer their question, “How are you today?” (which, as you know, people ask constantly). It’s the perfect intro to tell about your books as I did in the story above. Truly, they’ll lead the conversation after that.

In January I was buying groceries at Safeway and answered the checker’s question the same way I did at Hairmasters. Turns out she is a voracious reader with lots o’ friends in her book club. She told my wife last week she can’t wait for ROOMS to release and she’s telling “everyone” about it.

Remember, no one can sell your book like you can. No one has the passion for it, the belief in it, and as much lightning in their eyes when they talk about it. You don’t have to “sell” anything, just talk about your excitement. Attitudes are contagious. If yours is worth catching, others will pick up on it.

“But, Jim,” you say, “I get the point, but I can’t meet enough people one-on-one to get the kind of sales numbers I need.” I agree. However, remember that 80 percent of a novel’s sales come from word of mouth. You start the right fire in the right place and it can sweep through thousands of readers.

The other day I got an e-mail from a stranger excited about reading ROOMS. Where did she hear about me? In December I flew back from a Marketing Fiction workshop I’d done back East. One of the flight attendants was reading a book, I started chatting with her about it, and soon we were talking about my novel.

She told her friend about me and suddenly I had another person interested in ROOMS. Why would this flight attendant tell her friend about me? Authors are a big deal to many people.

Because many of us know a lot of other writers, we tend to forget how rare it is to be an author. Think back to the days before you jumped into the publishing world. How many novelists with a royalty paying house did you know personally? How many people did you know that had self-published a novel? I could’ve counted the number I knew even if I had no hands.

You’re probably aware that around 80 percent of Americans want to write a book. So when they find someone who’s done what they’ve dreamed of doing, they’re impressed. Simply saying you’re an author will get people interested in talking to you.

Your elevator pitch isn’t just for editors and agents.

Make sure you’re ready when someone asks what your book is about. Just like pitching agents or editors, you need to capture people’s attention fast. My e.p. for ROOMS is twenty-three words long and that’s pushing the upper limit for word count. (Randy Ingermanson has an excellent series of blog posts on how to develop a short, compelling sell line.)

If you can entice people with your elevator pitch, they’ll start asking questions and carry the conversation. But when they ask more about your book, it’s not the time to launch into your five minute synopsis. It’s not time to launch into your two minute synopsis, or your one minute synopsis.

In media—radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, etc—interviewers look for sound bites—short, pithy quotes—they can work into a story. Learn to respond this way when you answer a follow-up question about your book. Shorter is better.

Before you say good-bye, ask about them. A great question is “What do you like to read?” Remember, if you’re writing books to make God famous, this adventure isn’t about you or your novels; it’s about your readers. Care about them. Be interested in them.

Gotta go, but before I do, did I tell you about this really cool novel called ROOMS?