Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Rule of 30 Books

I recently did a booksigning at a major bookstore. Veeerrry interesting. It was my first time solo at any bookstore save a Christian bookstore (Think Berean, Family, etc). I arranged this signing a good two months in advance. My job: send photo and bookcover (I'm pretty sure they never arrived. The first three attempts bounced, I contacted the person and was told about the dreaded spam-blocker. I resent from my work addy. This time I got back an out-of-the-office reply); send postcards (sixty); word of mouth (I have a BIG mouth); email friends (I emailed lots of friends). The day before the booksigning I trotted over to the bookstore to introduce myself and thank them. That's when I discovered that my books hadn't arrived. I mentioned to the manager about the 60 postcards, word of mouth contacts, and countless emails. He wasn't impressed. I understood why the next day when I stopped by to see if my books arrived. They had. He'd ordered 10. My mistake: choosing a bookstore with a big parking lot but small vision (sigh). I arrived Friday night to the world's smallest table (well, it was big enough to hold ten books!) and sign (After I put on my glasses, I realized my name was on the sign). I'm pretty sure the photo never arrived, either that or they laughed and decided not to use it less it scare customers away. But, there's always great news! A friend was waiting for me and two friends were walking in the door right when the signing started. I sold out of the ten books within 25 minutes. It took that long because friends do stand around and chat! What did I learn? Next time I will ask the bookstore to order 30 books and agree to buy what they don't sell. Why? Because I have a friend who works at the same chain and I called to see what the manager was thinking only ordering ten! Her response: That's what ALL managers order because most authors only sell about seven books. Hmmmmm. Being a Christian, I hadn't put his picture on my dartboard (YET) and now with the new information, my dartboard is shaking its head and asking to remain pictureless (Christians really aren't allowed to throw darts at pictures on dartboards). I still wonder at the division of work. I did quite a bit. The bookstore did very little. I watched my friends who visited the store. More than 23 individuals and families came just because of me. Eighteen of them purchased my book (I brought some of my own. This meant two more visits to the bookstore trying to get them replaced) I discouraged ten sales.. More than eighty percent of them purchased other books, too. Had I not been so distressed over only getting ten books and then getting the table the size that only ten books would fit on, I'd have purchased other books (and a Baby Einstein DVD). By my calculations, I added more then $340 of revenue to that bookstore. Oh, btw, when I packed up my itty bitty table, no one stopped by to thank me. Of course, they didn't offer me anything to drink either: both things I would expect from a well-run store. Definitely a learning experience.

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