Getting People to Read Your Book

I’ve said many times on this blog that we are all salespeople. Everyone along the chain of writing, publishing and selling books has the ultimate goal of getting the book into the hands of the end user – the reader. In order to do that, we have to sell our stuff.

From the query letter you send to an agent, to the final cover and flap copy on your book as it sits on the shelf in Barnes & Noble, everything about the way your book is presented is aimed at convincing someone to take a chance on it. The agent takes a chance, the publisher takes a chance, the bookstore takes a chance, and finally, the consumer risks their hard-earned money on the hope that they’re going to love your book.

This is why your sales language is so important. Nobody knows your book better than you do! You are the expert on it. The sales copy starts with you, and you have the best chance of accurately conveying your story to a stranger. Often, the flap copy that ends up on your book, as well as catalog copy, ad copy, press releases and other sales language, is based on what you write when you’re first trying to get a publisher.

It’s not just the query letter, but there’s also the “elevator pitch” which is the brief verbal pitch you can give an agent or editor at a conference when they ask you “what’s your book about?”

Then there’s the tagline or one-sentence pitch that you’d give an acquaintance or a stranger at a cocktail party when they find out you’re a writer and ask that same question. You don’t want to freeze up at those moments!

Of course, if your sales job is effective, you may earn the privilege of someone actually reading the first pages of your book – whether an agent or a consumer standing in the bookstore trying to decide whether to buy it. And guess what? Those opening pages are an incredibly important sales tool, too. It’s not just agents who make quick decisions. Your average reader does, too. It’s crucial to capture them in those first pages.

You may not like the idea of “selling” but as an author, you really want people to read your work, right? There are ways you convince them to do just that.

Believe it or not, there are specific strategies you can use to create the best possible sales language for your book, and there are identifiable elements in effective opening pages.

All of this can be learned!

I only have 90 minutes to teach this stuff in my Webinar tomorrow, but I’ll do my best to pack in as much as possible during that time. I’ll cover taglines, queries, elevator pitches, and opening pages – giving you concrete strategies as well as examples. My goal is to give you usable, easy to implement tricks and techniques for capturing your novel or memoir in the very best light.

I hope you can join me!

Click here to register.

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. iheartya on May 30, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    >Israeli short story writer, Etgar Keret, struggled with the blurb his publisher wrote on the back of his book, so he decided to write a short short:

    "When you have an asthma attack, you can’t breathe. When you can’t breathe, you can hardly talk. To make a sentence all you get is the air in your lungs. Which isn’t much. Three to six words, if that. You learn the value of words. You rummage through the jumble in your head. Choose the crucial ones—those cost you too. Let healthy people toss out whatever comes to mind, the way you throw out the garbage. When an asthmatic says 'I love you,' and when an asthmatic says 'I love you madly,' there’s a difference. The difference of a word. A word’s a lot. It could be stop, or inhaler. It could even be ambulance."

    And this, my friends, is why I am in love with Etgar Keret. 🙂

    –Sarah Joy–

  2. melissa on May 27, 2010 at 9:40 AM


    Great tips. Thank you! I'm a new author. Never written before but have been inspired to write a book that i've been wanting to write for a while. I appreciate your posts.
    I will be back! 🙂

    Melissa Nielsen

  3. Joseph L. Cooke on May 26, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    >ABS. Always be selling.

  4. Toby Speed on May 26, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    >I'm enjoying reading your blog. Maybe you'll be able to repeat this webinar in the evening sometime for those of us with dayjobs. Thanks for packing so much good advice into today's post!

  5. Stephanie Shott on May 26, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    >If it wasn't for the full time job thing, I'd be all over signing up for the seminar, but the bills beckon to be paid.

    Perhaps you'll have one later in the afternoon in the future! Your blog is an amazing gift, I'm sure your webinar will be a great investment.

    Have fun tomorrow! 🙂

  6. patriciazell on May 26, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    >Your post highlights why I am happy that I'm writing my book on my blog. I've been using twitter, facebook, and comments on other blogs to build traffic to mine–it's working. My visitors have been steadily increasing and at about 835 per week, I can see 1,000 in the not-to-distant future. This summer, as I finish my book, I will be researching to find other ways to increase my traffic.

    By the way, you played quite a role in helping me get started–I attended some of your class at the Write-to-Publish conference last June and learned a lot. After listening to you (and the other speakers) and after participating in Michael Hyatt's blog, look what I've done… Thanks so much for your input.

  7. Kelly Wittmann on May 26, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    >Great post, thank you.

  8. Care on May 26, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    >For the beginner, me, I love to learn what I really don't know, which is how to query, pitch and tag.
    Which is why I will be signing up for the webinar tonight.

    (I will travel to my daughters house and use her Mac since she has high speed internet access.
    (where i live I'm still stuck in the dark age of dial up)

    I look forward to attending another one of your informative presentations!

  9. T. Anne on May 26, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    >I took your webinar a few months back and the presentation was spectacular. I'm not going to miss this one I've all ready signed up. I'm knee deep in the proposal for my novel and I'm sure this will give me the marketing fuel I need to propel it in the right direction. Looking forward to tomorrow!

  10. Anonymous on May 26, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    >For years I have wondered why in the world the Lord led me to major in journalism and marketing. I've use neither as a SAHM. But now that God has awakened my love of writing fiction and as I learn more about the industry, it all makes sense. I studied broadcast journalism. It was all about bringing all the important information down to a catchy soundbite. In marketing I learned the importance of knowing your market and differentiating what you offer from everything else out there.
    Oh, and now I'm taking your webinar. Great training for pitching in October.

  11. Loree H on May 26, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    >Thanks for the tips and selling overview.

    Have a good webinar.

    Wish I could come but my work schedule won't allow it this time.

  12. Max Munro on May 26, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    >Good advice. I always come up with a one sentence and one paragraph pitch before I start a story.

    The first page being sharp is important too. Dull "look inside" pages on Amazon has lost a lot of authors my cash.

  13. Kelly Freestone on May 26, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    >Sounds exciting!
    Good luck with it!

  14. Krista Phillips on May 26, 2010 at 6:43 AM

    >So very true. My mom works in sales and is constantly lecturing on how to "sell" my stuff, although I try to remind her that her sales and my sales are quite different, LOL!

  15. Jessica Nelson on May 26, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    >Very true.
    Have fun with your webinar. 🙂

  16. alisha on May 26, 2010 at 3:22 AM

    >Thanks, this is a great reminder to have my sales hat firmly on as I write my proposal! And good job selling your webinar – I'm going to sign-up in a second.