Who Else Wants to Know How To Take the Stress Out of Black History Month?

(10 Tips for De-stressing Your Sales Experience During Black History Month.)

Are you sick and tired of the Black History Month blues?

For African American writers, in theory, February, which is Black History month, should be a marketing bonanza for both the reader and the writers. However, as the years roll around, and there are more authors competing for the same slice of the economic pie, sometimes you look up and February has come and gone without any significant book sales.

I speak from experience. From 1995 to 2001, I made a decent amount of book sales during Black History Month. However, each year the sales have dwindled and last year, I only nailed down one book signing in the entire month of February. This took place at a book festival held at the Baldwin Crenshaw Mall in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, due to the large number of authors, I sold more radio time than books. (Once again, I make a plug for multiple-streams of incomes for writers.)

In comparison, this year I got an early start, and I will be conducting a workshop at the Cincinnati Black Writers' Conference on 2-4-05 to 2-6-05 (www.ourstoryexpo.com/). In addition, I will be signing with the Author's Study Club (in Los Angeles), which is one of the oldest book clubs in the area, having been founded in 1945. This opportunity came from a radio interview I did in December, 2004. As a result, I arranged for 5 other authors to sign with me.

Looking back, I now hold myself responsible for why I didn't get more signings last year. Why? I wasn't proactive. I didn't go out and actively seek prospective venues.

So my question is this. Are you taking a proactive position during Black History Month? Ultimately, it is up to you.

Now granted, in an ideal world, Black History should be celebrated 12 months of the year, but in the real world, it only comes in February.

One writer expressed it like this, "I'm tired of Black History month only coming once a year. We need to be able to sell our books year round."

But there's another reason we need to take advantage of every holiday season. Let's face it. There is a certain amount of stress related to not selling books.

In addition to contacting independent Black bookstores and your local Barnes and Nobles, here are 10 tips for de-stressing your Sales Experience during Black History Month.

  1.    Set up your book signings early. Perhaps start in December or as early as July, seeking venues from which to sell your books.

  2.   Approach your local public libraries and ask for book signings. Sometimes these events will be printed in the local newspapers.

  3.    Approach your employer and ask for permission to sell books at your job when they have Black History day. (Help plan the event if they didn't intend to have a Black History Day.)

  4.    Approach your alumni organization from your alma mater and find out if they are planning any events.

  5.    Approach local community colleges or universities for scheduling author events during Black History Month.

  6.    Schedule Internet radio interviews and terrestrial radio and announce that you're available for speaking engagements or book signings. You can go to (www.maxinethompson.com for on-line interviews on www.voiceamerica.com and www.artistfirst.com.)

  7.    Join a speaking bureau, or even Toastsmasters, so that you can get speaking engagements and garner back of the room sales.

  8.    Approach Black organizations. (Black Lawyers Association, Black Firefighters Association, Black Teacher's Associations, Black Social Workers Association, etc.) Do a vertical pitch, depending on the topic of your book. (How to relieve stress among Black Lawyers, Black Firefighters, Black Social Workers, etc. during Black History Month.)

  9.    Contact your own or a local sorority or fraternity and see if they will be doing an event for Black History Month.

  10.    Do an Amazon campaign, where all your prospects and your email opt-in list buy your book at a certain time and try to meltdown the Amazon system. Go to www.createabestseller.com for more information.

My final suggestion is to see if organizations will host authors every four months to let people in the community know there are so many up and coming Black authors. Remember. Each contact can lead to a relationship, which can develop a lifelong fan for your books.

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