FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Daniel W.: Welcome to the American Small Business Institute. This week, I’m here with Deborah Winegarten, the world famous author and all-around rock star. Now, I’ve been watching Debra promote her … She’s an author, among many other things, and I’ve been watching her promote her own stuff on social media and in person. It just occurred to me. She was coming for a class and I thought, “Man, I need to get her to talk about how she does that, because she does it so well.” So, I came up with the title How to Self Promote Without Being an Asshole. That’s the definition of Debra Winegarten.
Debra W.: Oh, you’ve got to love [inaudible 00:00:41].
Daniel W.: So we’re going to start with social media, because we’re going to do several. She does it in many ways, from speaking gigs to public presentations, but we’re going to start with social media. I think when you’re trying to promote what you’re doing, and this is for artists or for people with single products, things like that, authors, when you’re stuck promoting yourself and don’t have anyone speaking for you, it can feel a little bit like, “Oh, this could be slimy. Every time I post, I’m talking about myself.” Now, I’m going to ask her some questions. She’s going to talk about her ideas. Then, if I don’t hear them, I’m going to draw attention to things I’ve noticed. Fair enough? Tell us, you’ve written …
Debra W.: I’ve written six books so far. Excuse me.
Daniel W.: Only six?
Debra W.: Five of which are award-winning.
Daniel W.: Jeez, okay. Well, show us one right here, just so we can see.
Debra W.: Well, you know they’re award-winning, because I actually paid the extra quarter, whatever it is, and buy the stickers and put them on the book. This book, by the way, has actually won three awards, but one of the stickers, I didn’t like it, so it’s not on the book.
Daniel W.: See, that’s self-promotion without being an asshole right there.
Debra W.: Well, it is. The nice thing about this is even if you can win some dinky award, people don’t know the Texas Association of Authors is not this huge, amazing thing because Texas. So they’re like, “Oh my god, your book won the Best Biography of Texas Association of Authors?”
Daniel W.: Yes, it did.
Debra W.: Yes, it did. Actually, but I don’t like their sticker, so I don’t put it on, but in my other media, I’m like, “Yeah, it won three awards.” The Military Writers Society of America. Oh my god, it won a gold medal from them. Now, they are a small but mighty organization. Again, when your book wins an award, that means it’s been vetted. Someone else has looked and said, “You know what? That’s hot shit, and you’re going to win an award.”
Daniel W.: Oh, I love it. When these things get won, she’s posting those. Hey, we won this. The books now have them on there. She’s doing all of those things on social media, because that’s how I heard about … Oh, Deb’s winning awards left and right, all over the place.
Debra W.: Not only that, but because I won a gold medal … I should have brought it, but I don’t have it. The book won a gold medal, so what do I do when I start my talks? I put on the gold medal. Then, I’m like, “You know what? I am never going to win a gold medal in the Olympics, but my book won one and here it is.” Then, when I talk to kids, they’re like, “Oh my god, is that a real gold medal?” Well, of course it’s not a real gold medal. It’s some whatever it is. You can’t tell that on social media. On Facebook, it looks pretty gold.
Daniel W.: See, we try to train our sommeliers to do that. Look, don’t give a whiskey presentation without wearing that medallion. You earned that thing. There’s a whole other level of mental respect that gets into that and when you see those kinds of things. Particularly where it caught my attention was there’s a thing that she does in book signings, and it leads to an entire direction and a mentality that I want to make sure that we accent. What is one of the top things you do with social media at book signings?
Debra W.: Book signings, usually what I’m doing is I’m giving a talk. I’ve trained myself. I’m an extrovert. It’s actually stupid that I’m an author, because I love public speaking. It makes me happy to talk to tons of people. I go and I give this amazing talk. Then, I have the book signing at the end. Well, when people buy my books, usually at the book signing, my mother used to call it it’s this shark feeding frenzy, where one person comes up and then two and then five people and then all of a sudden everyone’s like, “Oh my god, I have to have the book.” What I do is as I’m sitting there signing and selling them, then I’m like, “Oh, can I take your picture for my inventory? There’s so many people buying my books, I don’t have time to write, taking notes, so let me just take your picture. Then, when I get home, I can look at my pictures, put you in my Excel spreadsheet.”
I actually do that. That’s true. What I don’t tell them is that I’m now also going to put you on Facebook. The only thing is if someone says, “Please don’t post my picture,” I’m 100% I won’t do it and I don’t do that. Otherwise, I do. I post them on Facebook. Then, if I know their name, I go in and I tag them and I friend them. Then, what I’ve done is when they accept my friend request, guess what? On their Facebook page, all their friends see that they just bought my book. Now, I have access to all these people. The thing is if a person buys my book, there’s a chance that some of their Facebook friends are also book lovers or there’s going to be some connection or they’re going to be like, “Why’d you buy that book?” or, “What was the deal?” I’m Jewish, so I have this whole series of poetry chap books of There’s Jews in Texas, Where Jewish Grandmothers Come From.
Daniel W.: Which are all great, by the way.
Debra W.: I’m coming out with an illustrated children’s book that’s Jewish. Now, you’d think that Jews would buy my books, and they do. They buy them like crazy. But you know what? More non-Jews buy my books. Why is that? Because there’s more non-Jews than Jews. I say to people, “Well, do you know someone Jewish?” Well, they know someone Jewish. Then you should buy my book for them. Oh, right, what a great idea.
Daniel W.: Here’s one of my favorite things. She does it so well, so it comes across so graciously. What I noticed, and this is what made me want to sit down with Debra, I noticed, man, every time I see posts from Debra, she’s never in them. The majority of the photos she’s putting on social media are pictures of other people. Then, she’s talking about them and this person bought it for this other person. You get this feeling, following Debra on Facebook, of there’s a lot of people she has contact with. She’s involved with a lot of things. It’s always about them. Debra is always caring about these other people. Yeah, in her mind, the reason is I’m reaching people. I’m reaching them and I’m promoting sales of the book. Yeah, absolutely, but from the outside, it comes across as it’s always about them, not about her. That’s extremely cool.
The other thing that I really like about it is you don’t have a crapload of selfies all over the place. You’ve got this consistent focus on the customer in social media. Focus on the customer. Then, when you’re not focusing on the customer, you’re focusing on the adventure that you’re on that people get to live vicariously through. Guess where I am today, everyone. Guess what I’m doing. But it never comes across as bragging. It comes across as, “Isn’t this so exciting? Look what we’re doing.” You could do that with any kind of store. You could do that with any kind of … I mean, just in all the things. Hey, guess what shipment came in today. Guess what we get to open. You’re not going to believe it. It’s this new thing that’s so exciting. Right? These are all things that are about the customer.
The dichotomy, I would say, on social media that she nails is it’s either about them or it’s about something that levels you with them that they can enjoy vicariously through you, but none of it is about a pedestal.
Debra W.: Right. Right. Because I leverage my extrovertedness, …
Daniel W.: That helps.
Debra W.: … I’m so happy to cold call people. Then, when I give a talk, I’m like, “If you know some other group that would love to have me, you should let me know.” Maybe 25% of my talks are actually paid. The other 75, I just do for free, but I’ll tell you what. You know what? I discovered, this is an amazing thing, that I sell more books at the talks I give for free than the talks they pay me for. Who knew?
Daniel W.: Oh yeah?
Debra W.: A perfect example is this book on Oveta, I wrote it because I wrote for seventh grade social studies. That’s where Texas history is taught. 1,400 middle schools in Texas. I’m like, “Hey, there’s no book about her. If I write one, all 1,400 middle schools have to have the copy.” That was my marketing genius. What I didn’t realize is that every librarian has their own budget, and you have to hand sell 1,400 copies. I’m like, “Oh, dude, okay.” Then, I started talking to a certain club, which I won’t mention, but they have chapters in every little dinky city all over the US. So I go to one in Houston, where she’s from, and I’m saying this thing about the 1,400 middle schools. Oh, by the way, I’m looking for the person that’ll buy 1,400 copies and put one in every middle school in Texas. Someone’s like, “Well, how many middle schools are there in Houston?” I’m like, “I don’t know.” By the end of my talk, they discovered there was 37 middle schools, and the woman said, “Well, I’ll buy 37 copies.” Right there.
Daniel W.: Holy cow.
Debra W.: “Do you have them?” I’m like, “Yeah.” I went out to my car and got them. Had a picture of her next to the 37 copies of the book. Then, I’m telling this story-
Daniel W.: Now people, by the way, they know that’s an option now, something they may not have thought of. They’re like, “Oh, I could buy books for all the schools in my town. That’s a great idea.”
Debra W.: Exactly. Then, I’m telling this story at the next thing in Austin, and this guy, he comes up. He’s like, “Well, there’s about 40.” He’s like, “Here’s my credit card.” I mean, before breakfast, I sold $600 worth of books, and I talked for free.
Daniel W.: That’s so good.
Debra W.: It was so happy.
Daniel W.: We’ll end with one of my favorite stories, which was there was a point when Deb started to wonder, “Is this being too self-promotional or over-the-top that I’m constantly taking pictures of people with my book?” What happened? You know what I’m talking about? The story?
Debra W.: No.
Daniel W.: The lady comes up and gets the book.
Debra W.: Oh, yes, yes. I’ve been doing this, like, a year and a half. I’m at this historical association conference with all the academics and everything, and there’s this friend of mine who’s a college professor, really well-known, big Texas women’s historian, who had been waiting the book in person so she could sign it. I sign it. I’m saying all these amazing things, and I’m so happy and we’re schmoozing. Then, I keep looking at her, and her face, she’s not happy. I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “Aren’t you going to take my picture?” I’m like, “Oh yes, oh my god.” I was just so in the moment of being with her, I had forgotten to take the picture. So I created a thing.
Daniel W.: Yeah, you did. They’re like, “Did you not like me? You took all those other people’s pictures.”
Debra W.: I know.
Daniel W.: Jeez, was it something I wore?
Debra W.: I know. The thing is, I mean, this is a top women’s historian. I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m an idiot that I didn’t.” Of course I want people-
Daniel W.: You were being your extrovert self. You’re all focused on the interaction.
Debra W.: Right, exactly.
Daniel W.: Our two takeaways that I’m going to steal out of this are if you’re going to do effective self-promotion on social media, two really easy ways to accomplish that are to make all of the focus about the customer instead of about you and what you’re doing, about your thing. If you’re not doing that, you are focusing on yourself, that you are focusing on things that they can sort of have the chance to experience through you, sort of vicarious living. Take away those two, and thanks for taking the time, Debra.
Debra W.: It was great to be here.
Daniel W.: We’ll have you back on for the next round.
Debra W.: Can’t wait.
Daniel W.: Cheers.
Debra W.: Cheers.
Daniel W.: We’ll see you next week.