Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guest Post - Marilyn M. Fisher

We've had a few recent posts lately about how difficult marketing is, and how some of us, while we love our horses and love writing, clearly shy away from the marketing and publicity aspect of this business.

So please welcome Guest Blogger Marilyn M. Fisher, author of THE CASE OF THE THREE DEAD HORSES and HE TROTS THE AIR. Marilyn is obviously very good at selling her books in person, so I hope you enjoy this post about how she does it. (I'll be taking notes, that's for sure. *grin*)

Selling Adult Horse Fiction On the Road

Years of selling my adult equine novels in meadows, community centers, schools, farms, book stores, and churches have convinced me that many customers assume all horse writing is for juveniles. On the road, it’s up to me to explain why my book will fascinate them—despite the fact that horses are in it. As I’ve discovered, it’s an art.

As I sit at my table, I watch for a passerby who notices my novels and may stop walking for a minute. I quickly say politely, “May I tell you about my book?” I then relate a story about my novel, pointing to the gorgeous horse on the cover to start my narrative. (The book is He Trots the Air, which concerns drugging steeplechase horses.)

If a person says doubtfully, “I don’t know anything about horses,” a common fear about buying a horse novel, I say comfortably that I have explained anything technical in the book so that anyone can understand.

As I forge ahead with my story, I’m always ready to improvise quickly if the customer asks a question or makes a comment.  

Now I talk about insurance investigator Connie Holt, time and place settings, and the major mystery (a shadowy conspiracy to drug the horse on the cover). I then touch on the equine subplots involving Connie. For example, she has romantic trouble with the former owner of a breeding farm. And she’s trying to find out if a friend’s old rediscovered equestrian painting is the real thing.  Then I say, “But there is more to read about in my book. I like to write about other things relating to Virginia:  architecture; parties; foods; how people dress for a prestigious race; and in this book, a little about how paintings are restored.”

I tie in incidental information I find out about my customer with my novel. For instance, if the person is a horse owner, I enlarge on the novel’s horse information. I might say something like, “Have you ever seen a horse whirlpool in action? There’s one in my story.” Or if the person is an older teen-ager, I point out that a teen-aged lover of horses helps Connie start her investigation and is in on the exciting climax.

Throughout my sales talk, I try to gauge the expressions on the buyer’s face. If that face lightens a lot, I know there is something I said that is interesting. I quickly expand on whatever it is. For example, a reader approached my table last spring, wearing a beautiful long flowered cotton dress with a lace fichu collar. An older woman with delicate features and gray hair, she was obviously dressed in a way she thought appropriate for a fair. Her face lit up when I talked about the prestigious Gold Cup race in the story and I expanded a bit on that. She bought the book.  

In the world beyond the Internet with its convenient author profiles, reviews and websites, I’ve found it possible to convince adults that horse novels can offer a rich reading experience.
Wow! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences, Marilyn. Clearly, you are very good at this, and I'll have to remember some of these techniques at my next book signing.

To learn more about Marilyn and her books:

The Case of the Three Dead Horses: American Book Publishing, 2005

He Trots the Air: American Book Publishing, 2011

Check out her Blog and website:

Visit her on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Amazon.


Laura Crum said...

Thank you for the guest post. That is good advice. I will admit to being one of the "bad" authors Linda mentioned who doesn't make much time for this kind of promotion of my books. But good for you for doing it. And thanks for the tips.

Linda Benson said...

Laura - LOL - you're too hard on yourself. As for me, I'll admit when I've been part of a book signing, I sometimes let my shyness overcome me, or when someone asks me what my book is about, I freeze up and can't even get my ready-made blurb out. There are some really good tips here about engaging people, even if they are not necessarily interested in a "horse" book. Because we all have other plots and subplots and things going on in our books. I'm going to try and study up on these techniques, and maybe even role play before my next booksigning, and see if it helps. Thank you for the tips, Marilyn!

Alison said...

Nice to meet you, Marilyn, and continued best of luck 'selling' your terrific books.

Francesca Prescott said...

Thank you, Marilyn. You're clearly a very good salesperson!! Being passionate about what you write helps win people over, I'm sure.