Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writers: Sell That Real Estate

I had a fun weekend at the Glendale, AZ Chocolate Affaire. Every February, around V-Day, about 100,000 people visit the various tents of food and crafts, listen to music, and buy books from local authors.

Our local branch of romance writers has had a tent from the first year of this event. This year about 40 authors sold and autographed books over a three-day period. Not everyone was selling romance--me, for example--but the romance writers embrace the big tent concept.

I would have sold romance, if I could have, but STREETWALKER (my Angelica French persona) is only an e-book so far. Hopefully, it will appear in print later this month. But, more on that later.

I did sell copies of my just-released culinary mystery, MISSION IMPASTABLE. What fun! Buyers got the pen I signed with, too. What a deal!

But I hawked more than I sold. That’s typical. Who comes to a festival thinking to buy books? Well, some do. Those are our regulars who show up every year hunting for fave authors. But most people I conversed with didn’t even know we were local authors.

So what did I hawk? Real estate.

No, not that kind of real estate.

The blank back of that business card you paid for, that space is real estate, and it cries out for information from you. And I don’t mean here’s how to reach me. That’s on the front.

On the back, I gave people a reason to keep my cards. A reason to keep them from tossing them in the trash or in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. I want to be on their mind.

So far, I have two books in print, so I have two business cards. I can see consolidating down the road, but for now, two is good.

The front of each card has contact info and my great book covers on a clean, white background. Very eye-catching. No clutter with cutesy graphics.

On the back, I give content. Content I hope they will find intriguing, or helpful, or just plain funny.

For STREETWALKER, my erotic romance, I include advice from my protagonist, Carrie, as "Carrie's Top Ten Sex Tips". People laughed out loud when they saw what I handed them!

And what better to put on the back of the business card for MISSION IMPASTABLE, my culinary mystery, than a recipe from the book, "Lasagna Roll-Ups"?

Now, I have to tell you, I did--briefly--consider including ways to poison people on the back of the MISSION IMPASTABLE business card, but I feared the NSA would show up. I don't need that kind of trouble. A recipe? Safe.

Waving my MISSION IMPASTABLE business card, I asked, “Like to cook?” to get people to my spot. One woman shook her head “no”. I held up my STREETWALKER business card and asked, “Like sex?” She laughed and came over so I could give my spiel.

What content is in your book that you could extend so people don't toss your business card? If you write romance, you might include dating tips. If you write historical fiction mysteries, share little known facts about the era or a person. If you write medical mysteries, include some factoids about the disease in your book. Perhaps, for a cozy craft mystery, you could include crochet instructions for a scarf. You get the idea.

You have specialized knowledge. Use it to extend the value of your 4¢ business card. You might make a sale worth many, many times that.


  1. That's a really great idea, Sharon. I hadn't thought of doing that. Hmm, I'll have to think about this. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Pat. Just id some element in your mystery, and bingo! content for the back. Truly, people's reactions were pretty amazing! Thanks for stopping in to comment.

  2. Best new idea I've come across. Thanks.

  3. Gee, Sandy, that's saying a lot! You're always passing along great ideas you've come across, much to my delight! Thanks for being such a faithful reader.

  4. Excellent post, Sharon! Great ideas and you're generous for sharing. I didn't know you live in AZ. So do I. : )
    Marja McGraw

    1. Thanks so much, Marja! Hey, whenever you head to the Valley, let me know. We could plan a meet.