October 28, 2017

How To Conduct An Auction At A Book Launch

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Recently I had the pleasure of auctioning three books where we raised a total of one hundred thousand Cedis. Convincing perfect strangers to hand over large amounts of money for books they have not even read requires you to be time conscious, direct, entertaining, persistent and persuasive. Here is exactly how to do it.

Be time conscious

When you are invited to start the auction, tell the audience how much time you have been given to sell the books. And then stick to the time allotted. This does is to give you and the audience goal to aim at and prevents you from wasting people’s time by talking for too long. At one of the book launches I attended, I even co-opted an audience member to be my timekeeper. He kept me on schedule by reminding me about how much time I had left to complete my task.

Be direct

Tell the audience why you are there: to auction the author’s books in order to raise funds for him or her. Remind audience members that they are expected to buy the books otherwise they wouldn’t have been invited to the event. So tell them what you are going to do and after you’ve done it, thank them for helping you achieve your goal.

Be entertaining

A book launch is a way to transfer money from the wallets, purses and accounts of some audience members to the author. In other words, it is serious business because people take their money seriously. However it is also an opportunity to create entertainment for those everyone in the hall. Here are a few tips which will help you make it easier to auction those books.

Start the auction by exhorting the audience “If you are not buying, you are clapping!” Anytime someone buys a book remind the audience “If you are not buying…” and very soon the people in the hall will respond in unison “…you are clapping!” When I repeated this mantra, it enabled non-buyers to create positive energy and also make buyers feel appreciated for spending their own money. Funny, maybe, but it works.

Another device is to encourage audience members to ‘betray’ people who they think can support the authors by buying their books. This technique works very well as it creates fun and puts the audience into an interactive mood. When I used it last week, audience members responded by pointing out potential buyers. It created much laughter, lightened the mood and enabled me to raise more money.

Be persistent

Don’t give up when it appears the audience is not willing to part with their money. Often people are not sure how much to give and so they wait to see what the first buyer will shell out. Then they take their cue from that amount. Unless you already have someone who has confirmed to buy the first copy prior to the launch, be prepared to spend between 10 and 20% of your allotted time to get the first buyer at the highest price possible.

Be persuasive

As you lower your prices, more and more people will be willing to make offers. Here are a few tips to make you more persuasive.

  • Talk about the contents of the book (which means you should have read it!).
  • Tease the audience (“You won’t believe what you’ll find in Chapter 7.”).
  • Appeal to their emotions (“Buy the book and support the author to make an impact in the lives of juvenile offenders.”)
  • Give the audience options (“Two or three of you can come together to buy the book.”).
  • Make it easy for them to buy (You don’t have to pay up today. You can pledge or spread payments over time.”)
  • A book launch is not only about the money. It’s also an art. People don’t have to give you their hard earned money just because you asked. Respect their time, be direct, be entertaining and be persistent. Above all be entertaining. Make everyone enjoy the event and you just might raise a lot of money.