I participated in my first Author Book Signing Event on February 2, 2013. The most important thing I learned, while promoting and selling advance copies of The Glass Sponge, was I had no idea I’d be hounded by other authors trying to sell their books to me.
Two authors practiced their hard sell techniques on me for four hours. Their don’t-take-no-for-an-answer approach repelled me, but ignoring body language was apparently part of their method. They eventually stopped when I used my firm, stop an out of control parent voice and said, “I’m not here to buy books. I’m here to sell books.”
The situation was partly my fault. I should have said no earlier in the day but I was being nice. Nice led to the same two authors placing their books on my display table. One said, “You can read it when you aren’t doing anything.” The other said, “Take a look at it while you’re just sitting there.”
The second thing I learned was not to let comments like the one above ruin my day even if there were times I was sitting at my table watching the crowd avoid the poetry section (consisting of me) as if it were the plague section. I decided the crowd would have to be eased into a poetry purchase. I turned the other author’s books upside down and stood in front of my table. I employed my Vanna White soft sell method—smiling, speaking when spoken to and gracefully using my arms to guide the crowd to my table. (I was kind of in their way; they had to be moved somewhere.)
Another comment I didn’t let get to me came from the local newspaper editor, Dave Abner. (Dave’s a great guy and not just because he’s given me PR over the years for designing a local children’s garden, speaking about Horticultural Therapy and Master Gardener Projects, and publishing an article about The Glass Sponge and Author Book Signing Event.)
Dave read the poems on my tri-fold display board and said, “What? Do you write with a Thesaurus in your lap?” I’ll be honest; I was insulted but didn’t show it. Dave’s second comment was, “I have to say anybody who uses ‘nascent’ and ‘Tom Petty’ in the same poem is alright with me.”
As I said, I didn’t let Dave's first comment ruin my day although I may have thought, Write with a Thesaurus in my lap? I wrote that poem with a notebook on my lap. I wrote that poem in the notebook on my lap while I was driving. Yes, I was driving in my car when I wrote the original version of my poem “Drive.” And I can prove it because I still have the piece of paper.
I was the only author selling a book that wasn’t printed; a book that couldn’t be signed at an Author Book Signing Event. Despite the tough, non-poetic crowd, I sold several advance copies of The Glass Sponge. Even if I didn’t sell a book, the lessons I learned made the event a success.
Here are six more:
1. If your display board sits on a table, don’t make it taller than you are. Tall displays should stand behind you so they don’t create a barrier between you and the crowd. (Stands can be purchased at Staples. They also do artwork.)
2. Forget the flowers. They’re taking up valuable real estate.
3. Give something away. (Bookmarks are not original. Candy is okay. Magnets are better.)
4. Don’t pile books ten deep on your table. (Obviously I didn't have this problem.) Too much inventory makes it appear you can’t sell a book.
5. Be confident. Confidence is everything in sales: If you’re not worried about selling one book, because you know you’re going to sell many books, you’re confident.
6. Be careful what you say to strangers. Don’t say, “But I don’t need good rates for publishing because my book isn’t self-published. Finishing Line Press is my publisher. I won't self-publish, in fact I’m kind of snobby about it,” to a stranger who turns out to be the owner of a print shop two-thirds of the authors in the room used to print their self-published books.
Causes Jules Jacob Supports
Missouri Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, American Horticultural Therapy Association, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, National Jewish...