Monday, July 19, 2010

The Big July - Canberra

Two days in Canberra, with seven stores, hundreds of eager readers sure to walk past me and the guidance of HarperCollins rep extraordinaire, Jodi Callas. I was looking forward to it!
I kicked off in Queanbeyan, the NSW town on the border of the ACT, early on Friday.
The bookmarks had just arrived, which proved handy, although things took a while to warm up ...
One hour in, I had sold two books and had the nasty feeling that this was not going well ... then it all turned around.
People started buying the entire series left, right and centre and I actually finished with two people nearly fighting over the last Wounded Guardian, with the unsuccessful bloke ordering a copy in to go with the signed copies of books two and three
This was the first time I've ever been able to sell a trilogy without book one!
It was not without its dramas, with one bloke with a runny nose insisting on shaking my hand and a kid spilling its milkshake right in front of the table I was working from, so a cleaner had to block everything off while he fixed that ...
Still, it was the perfect start and had me warmed up for Dymocks Belconnen at lunchtime.
This was going great - until the renovated Belconnen centre decided to kick in the lunchtime entertainment for the littlies.
The sound of Shrek, Donkey and co doing the macarena and other dances from the centre square beneath us made my efforts to talk to people pretty difficult. But I still chatted to some great people - one bloke bought all three and declared he was going home to put his feet up and start right away!
Again, I sold out of WGs and so it was off to Dymocks Civic.
This is in a quiet spot but there was still plenty of action. One lady decided she wanted a better deal than the one Dymocks was putting on for the entire trilogy and waved a $50 note at me.
`Let's do a deal. $50 for the three, I put the money down and walk away with the books. Right?'
A little flabbergasted, I directed her inside to the manager, after failing to explain that while these were `my' books, they actually belonged to the store until I had sold them.
`No deal!'
Off she went, leaving everyone a little bemused!
I found myself having a long chat with a couple called Navin and Rebecca, who bought all three, and we talked more about what I'm writing now than this trilogy. They explained they were having a rough day at work, had come out for coffee and run into me - and our chat had lifted their mood. Well, they certainly lifted me as well!
Then it was off to my last store for the day - Borders Canberra, where the manager Geoff, is a fan.
A lovely lady called Jess made a special trip across town to buy the entire trilogy, while another bloke came in to get book three - always a huge thrill for me.
It was busy and I chatted to everyone I could until I was about ready to drop!
I grabbed some dinner in the food court outside, then it was back to the hotel that had been arranged for me through my planned travelogue story for the Sunday Telegraph.
The Novotel Canberra can be summed up in one word - sumptuous. I had a hot bath and fell into bed!
Next morning, Saturday, was my last in Canberra and I hit the buffet breakfast, loading up for a big day.
First stop was A+R Woden, where I began fast and then slowed a little, defeated by the distance between myself and passers-by a little - although I did sell WG to the wife of the manager!
Next was Dymocks Tuggeranong, where I was haunted by a lack of WGs. Apparently they had more somewhere in store but could anyone find them ... after selling out quickly, then attempting to sell trilogies minus the first book (not recommended) to a couple of blokes, I had one woman stop me as I was leaving.
Now, we'd talked earlier and she'd said she was going to `think about it and maybe come back'. To me, that's code for `don't call us, we'll call you' and is a very polite farewell. But, she came back, wanting to get all three books and I didn't have them to sell to her!
The fact I was going downstairs to the A+R store didn't even save things.
She was disappointed and I was gutted.
It took me a while to get going at the Tuggeranong A+R as a result - but then I got going and sold them out of WGs, racking up nearly 35 sales all up and selling the final trilogy (minus books one!) to a lovely young writer called Rebecca, who arranged to get it ordered in from A+R Woden.
It was a great way to finish in Canberra but all the Ricola elderflower lozenges and green teas had not saved my throat - I was feeling a bit scratchy and still had a full day tomorrow - Campbelltown and Liverpool!

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