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Selling Your Book: What Are You Trying to Say? by Conor Kenny

Writing.ie | Resources | Essential Guides | Selling Your Book
Conor Kenny

Conor Kenny

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You might be very excited to see your first book materialise after months of hard work, lots of road blocks and heaps of self-doubt. But a book born is only the start. Now you need to go from author to marketer. The good news is that both require your writing skills. But beware, millions will not share your excitement.

Now that you have written a book or if you are about to throw yourself into one, then it might be worth challenging yourself by asking a few silent questions.

Finding a Publisher.

If you are going to find a publisher or someone to review your book then you must be able to anticipate and answer these questions. If not, you will disappear into overworked inboxes and remember, no journalist, ever, saw a mind blowing press release.

Who is it for?

Why should they read it?

What will they come away with?

What is it about your book that will be better than anyone else’s?

What’s driving you to write a book?

What’s is the Purpose?

Sometimes it is to tell a story, sometimes a material version of your imagination, sometimes to educate, maybe just for pleasure.

To help you decide, there are 6 reasons why we communicate.

To inform. 

That means to bring information to another that we believe they need and may not have.

Think newspapers or an operating manual.

To inspire or motivate. 

This means to bring a future idea to life, to get agreement, buy in or even just enjoy dreaming about it.

Think about the conversation we might have about starting a new business.

To influence or persuade. 

The goal is to alter someone’s thinking, for better, for worse.

Think of the sales professional.

To conform to expectations. 

This is how we see ourselves and helps us communicate in a social way that conforms to that norm.

Think a cocktail party linked to work or a party with your friends.

To set up new connections. 

This means how we connect to grow and develop a network.

To enjoy. 

For many, conversation is enjoyable, motivational, relaxing, distracting and simply playful fun. Think of coffee with friends and meeting colleagues you like.

When a publisher or a reviewer is looking at your book, they will inherently be asking these questions. If you can answer them, you will, at the very least, offer the prospective reader, or publisher, a clear choice.

What’s your style?

Writing is exactly the same as painting. If all of us sat on the same stretch of river to paint a house on the opposite bank, we would see it differently.

Make sure your style is authentic to who you are. There is no right and no wrong.

Sharp points.

Every paragraph you write needs to have purpose. That means the reader comes away with something they did not have before reading your work. For me, my ‘style’ is simply to tell stories to illustrate a lesson.

If you will excuse the apparent self-promotion in this paragraph, here is an example from my 4th book, What Are You Saying?, which is hot off the press. It is a story but it has a moral.

Going to the Moon 

It was one of those rare pleasant mid-summer nights. Late enough to have no plans, too early to surrender to the night. My good friend Vincent called. He was not ready to stop for the day either.

“There is a mountain an hour away that has beautiful flint stones that are almost pure white, shall we go collect some for our gardens?” 

It was not so much about the art of landscaping but two young men squeezing the last drop from a beautiful day.

We arrived into this heavenly corner as the last light started to fade. The sky was clear, and the first stars were like centurions coming to finish off the slivers of colourful streaming light. A battle only one would win. Time was against us. There was work to be done.

It is an exceptionally beautiful place and seeing nature settling down for the night was special. With the darkness came the quiet.

We walked up and up and up not sure where these abundant rocks were lying. As if they knew we were seeking them out, they were disguised under a thin layer of camouflaged green. Push it aside and their brilliance was striking. Like diamonds, a little polishing revealed their beauty.

We got increasingly selective and, in the pursuit of excellence, feasting on this sparkling crop, we pushed higher and higher towards the mountaintop.

Vincent was about one hundred metres ahead foraging away on a very steep slope near the summit. The mountain was narrowing, and a slope had become a wall. I was on lower ground admiring the dusky view and watching the stars gathering in numbers and power.

Just behind the mountain’s peak, out of nowhere, the moon started to rise. I had never seen anything like it before and never since. It was enormous and the perfect balance of light showed up every detail. It was the most marvellous sight and nature doing its thing.

The only light left was provided by this moon and it was the ultimate hunter’s moon.

From where I stood, I watched its rapid ascent and growing size. It looked like a giant light bulb inside a free-floating translucent balloon.

In the middle of nowhere, voices carry easily. From a distance, I shouted up to Vincent “Look at the moon, it is amazing” 

Vincent looked up and could see nothing other than the occasional star and fast fading light. He was a man on a mission, a flint stone mission. “What are you talking about? I see stars, no moon. Are you imagining things?” 

I told him it was directly above his head, enormous, rising fast and it looked like he was carrying it on his shoulders.

A practical man, Vincent was convinced that my earlier rock hauling had taken me into a world of hallucinogenic astronomy. With a hint of impatience came “Yeah right, the moon. Not a star, a big moon. You keep looking for the moon. I will keep looking for white rocks.” 

There was no convincing him. I gave up.

Twenty minutes later, full of rocks and empty of energy, we descended slowly to our car. Our mission accomplished.

Vincent turned around to look back at our midnight mountain. “My God, look at the moon, it is unreal” 

I resisted the urge to say, “I told you so.”   

Instead, I said “I guess when your nose was against the rock face on the steepest part of the mountain, you could not see what I saw?” 

He laughed, avoided the answer, put his arm on my shoulder and started to sing Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to The Moon.’ 

And that is what I mean when I said;

“What you see and what you hear depends on where you stand” 

And Good Luck

Once you have written your book, edited it, produced it and got it into your hand, always remember that it the bridge between you and the market is all in the press release.

A press release is just like the CV for your book. It sums up the best bits, highlights why you should read it and condenses a couple of hundred pages into a short paragraph.

It is not always easy but, work at it, get it right and then the market will decide.

Finally, it does not really matter if your book is a huge success or not. The achievement is writing it and bringing it into the world. Not only is it something to be very proud of, it allows you great personal satisfaction and if anyone ever knocks it, ask them where you can buy their book!

(c) Conor Kenny

About What Are You Saying? by Conor Kenny:

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw

WHAT ARE YOU SAYING … ? is a book about communication: how we communicate, and how our words and actions affect other people. Based on Conor Kenny’s own career and experience, It is a book of true stories, each one teaching a lasting communication lesson. It delves into understanding what we say, what we meant to say, and why we did not say what we meant to say – even when we think we did. Because – critically – whilst they may not always remember the words, people will remember how we made them feel.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Conor is the founder and principal of Conor Kenny & Associates, a multi award-winning professional development and training company.
He is the author of 4 books:

• What Are You Saying? Autumn 2020
• It’s Who I Am, Irish Times Books Business Books of The Year, 2017
• Dancing at the Fountain, Irish Examiner Business Books of the Year, 2016;
• Sales Tales, 2014.

He is a former fundraising volunteer for Debra Ireland and currently a director and board member of The Rutland Centre (addiction treatment).

  • The Dark Room: A thrilling new novel from the number one Irish Times bestselling author of Keep Your Eyes on Me
  • allianceindependentauthors.org

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