How NOT to Market a Book

Vancouver-Skyline-Circa-1995I made a rare visit to Vancouver last week.  It gave me an excuse to wear heels and “city clothes.” It also gave me an opportunity to practice the elevator pitch for my book and hand out business cards.

I’m not an extrovert, so it’s outside my comfort zone to pass out cards to complete strangers. However, book marketing is what follows writing a book and publishing it. Therefore, I keep a supply of business cards at hand and I’ve been making a habit of talking up the book and passing out cards whenever I’m out and about.

Last week, I met my sister-in-law downtown and we poked in and out of stores for most of the afternoon.  While we shopped, I handed out a few cards to sales clerks who looked like they might be in my target readership. Their quick smiles and easy acceptance boosted my confidence.

At just past six, we called it a day and decided to pop into a hotel for a drink and rest our feet before heading back to her place. We settled into a comfortable window seat in a busy bar in an old hotel on Georgia Street. Our waiter was an interesting young man who took the time to make sure we had the perfect drinks. He shared his personal history in the bar business and checked on us often. The service was a real treat and I was enjoying my brush with the big city.

Buoyed by happy endorphins, and confident that our waiter would be receptive, I decided to give him my book pitch and a business card on his next visit to our table. I reasoned that even if an urban fantasy thriller didn’t appeal to him, he might have a girlfriend or sister who would be interested.

As he approached our table, I held out my card. Unfortunately, before I could explain it, we were interrupted. So while he addressed the person who’d interrupted, I sat there stupidly pointing to the card that he was jamming into his pocket. I watched him morph from our relaxed, happy-g0-lucky waiter to a visibly stiffened young man who shuffled from one foot to the other. He finished his conversation then quickly excused himself and beetled out of there before I could deliver my elevator pitch.

He never came back. I didn’t catch on at first, mostly because I’m daft, but when a completely different employee came by to present our bill, I looked around for our waiter. I saw him on the far side of the room serving another section. That’s when it dawned on me: He thought I was trying to pick him up.

At first, I was just embarrassed about the misunderstanding, but then the reality that he’d actually run from our table sunk in, and that was a humiliating eye-opener. I never should have complimented his olives. Suddenly, it was me who couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Apparently, I’ve officially entered cougar country. I must say, it’s not my favourite place.  It takes the shine off of all kinds of delusions that I was rather fond of. In future, I’ll have to be much more careful about handing out business cards – especially in bars. My ego might not be able to take another mad dash from a handsome young man with his pants on fire.

Want to know how I got into this mess? Check out How it Started.


About JP McLean

Author of The Gift Legacy, a contemporary thriller with a twist of fantasy that will leave you believing the impossible and wary of the night sky…
This entry was posted in On Marketing, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to How NOT to Market a Book

  1. Love it! That’s too funny.


  2. Well Jo-Anne, I have to admit this did give me a good chuckle….I feel your pain…welcome to Cougartown, be ready to avert eyes often :).


  3. ineverforget says:

    Oh no! Kudos though for handing out the cards whenever you go anywhere – I need to start doing that! Is it easy once you start doing it? The thought of it terrified me a bit!


    • JP McLean says:

      Oh, go ahead – just do it. Wear sneakers in case you have to make a quick get away. A hoodie might come in handy too.

      Handing out cards to strangers isn’t quite terrifying any more, but it hasn’t gotten easier yet. I keep hoping I’ll get better at judging when someone is simply being polite versus when they’re truly interested. Overall, there have been far more positives than negatives. Give it a shot.


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