Let’s face it, peeps. If you want something out of someone, you have to schmooze them – whether you like it or not.
Admittedly, schmoozing doesn’t come naturally for a lot of writers. We’re oftentimes introverts at heart: the type of people who feel much more comfortable interacting with fictional characters than real-life individuals.
Nonetheless, if you want to build up your readership numbers and your sales, then too bad, cupcake! You’re going to have to set aside your story sometimes to enter reality. The art of schmoozing is simply too important to ignore. It’s something you need to learn if you plan to successfully market yourself as an author – or really as anything else out there.
Before I go any further in this post, I should probably define the word schmooze, since it oftentimes has a rather negative connotation. Believe it or not though, it doesn’t have to be sleazy. It can simply mean to talk cozily with another human being: to give someone else the impression that they’re interesting or important, or that you care about chatting with them.
In that sense, schmoozing is simply being an engaging conversationalist.
When you’re a good schmoozer, you put people at ease while simultaneously making yourself memorable to them: two important aspects of marketing.
I mean, very few people buy books from authors who make them feel twitchy or who bore them.
Take two authors or authors-in-the-making I recently met, one of whom was a natural schmoozer and one who was really bad at it. I’m not trying to put the latter lady down, but it’s simply a fact that she needed to work on her presentation.
When we got to talking, I quickly ascertained that she was a writer and asked her what she wrote about. When she said she had a fantasy manuscript she was working on, I was instantly delighted. Here was someone I could doubly relate to, and I genuinely wanted to know more about her and her work.
For my part, I was all ready to schmooze!
She, however, was not.
While she gave me a quick summary of her work in progress, that was pretty much it. Then she made sure to move on to chat with someone else.
Whether she genuinely didn’t care about interacting with me or just wasn’t fluent in the art of schmoozing, I’m not sure. But one way or the other, she pretty much lost a potential reader for the sole reason that she gave off a negative vibe during our brief interaction.
As a result of our conversation, I wasn't sure if she wanted me to interact with her any further, and so I didn’t feel comfortable approaching her again for more information.
That same day, however, I met another fantasy writer. And this one was more than willing to give me the time of day.
With every new question I asked about her characters, her setting, her plot… she had an engaging answer that hooked me further. It was obvious she was passionate about her story and more than happy to chat about it, and so I’m now very curious about checking out her already published novel.
That’s all because she was a delightful schmoozer.
Now, maybe she was born that way and the other lady was not. That’s a very likely possibility. But just because you’re born without the schmoozing gene doesn’t mean you’re doomed to never hook a reader. It simply means you need to study up on proper conversational skills before you try putting it into practice.
So here’s some tips to understanding the art:
Be honest but courteous. You don’t have to share everything about yourself, but you definitely don’t want to come across as something you’re not. If you don’t know about something they’re talking about, simply ask for more details. Whoever you’re schmoozing will probably love to get to share more of his or her story anyway.
Don’t just yap about yourself. Make sure to show genuine interest in what your fellow conversationalist does as well.
Don’t be pushy. Pay attention to their body language and tone of voice in order to determine whether you’re making them uncomfortable or taking up too much of their time.
When you run out of stuff to say, make sure to end the conversation on a positive note, saying how nice it was to meet the schmoozee and how you hope to see them around or some such thing.
It might feel unnatural at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a lot of fun. You’ll find that you learn a lot along the way as you better build up your reader list through the art of schmoozing.