Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to hand-sell 1000 books Part II

So you've done all your preparation work and arrived at the book store with pens in pocket and water bottle in hand.
After meeting as many of the staff as you can, you MUST get your table set up out the front of the store. Anything inside the store is a killer. And don't use a chair. If you sit down, you'll be lucky to get two sales, let alone 20.
Chat to the owners and see if they'll do a deal.
The ideal scenario (with a trilogy) is for them to knock a dollar or two off the price of the first book (to get the mildly interested and tyre-kickers over the line) and then a decent discount for them to take the entire trilogy.
Price points are vital. My trilogy has a rrp of $67. If you can offer it for $59 or better, I have a much better rate of success than $60 or above.
Dymocks Nowra offered all three for $55 and I sold five trilogies in 45 minutes, on a quiet Thursday afternoon when about 10 people walked past!
With that negotiated, get started!
If you're lucky, there are a few people waiting for you. You can use Facebook and Twitter to alert people - and don't disregard local newspapers. They're always looking for stories and even a couple of pars will give your name plenty of attention. They may not come in on the day but if they later see a poster up, or a signed copy on the shelf, then you've got a real chance of a purchase.
If there's no one there for you, no problem. There are dozens of book-lovers walking past the store each hour. You just need to talk to them.
You have to turn yourself into a cold-caller or spruiker - but a nice one!
My opening line is: ``Do you like reading?'
It forces people to stop and think - they can't just say ``No'' because it makes them look silly.
Having said that, there is a proportion of people who hate reading and will be quick to tell you!
Generally, they seem to prefer eating and getting themselves tattooed!
If they stop, or at least pause, I say: ``I'm an author and these are my books''.
They can either brush me or come over and talk.
You'd be surprised how many want to talk but if they don't, you have to still smile and give them a wave.
You are on show - you have to keep putting out positivity. Smile, be pleased to see people. You're asking them to pay money and buy your books. The least you can do is look happy about it!
Often I'll see someone walking briskly towards me, trying to hustle past this pushy bloke who's obviously trying to sell something. I'll give them a big smile and a cheery greeting and, quite often, they'll slow down enough for me to ask if they like reading - and go from there. But toss a question at them too early and they just brush you.
So now you have them talking. I have my pitch all worked out, tailored to whether the potential buyer is male, female or teenager (yes, a different species sometimes!)
Seriously, I give them a quick rundown of the book, point out a few reviews, number of reprints and bestseller status, then give them the special offer.
If all is good, then they say yes and I sign immediately before sending them inside to pay.
I sign at this stage for two reasons - one, they can't have a rethink while wandering around the store and just put the book down on a shelf and two, you're free to keep selling, instead of waiting for someone to pay and then come back to have it signed.
Now, if they are still wavering there are a few things to do. Offer them the back of the book to read. Ask them their favourite authors to see if you can draw a connection with your books.
Sometimes, however, they decide not to buy. Don't show any disappointment. Instead, encourage them to recommend you to friends/family who might like it better. Or to put it down on their wish list. Wave them off with a smile, so they have a positive memory of you.
The whole point of this is to sell yourself for two hours. Don't sell yourself short. People won't always want to buy your books on the day. But if you give them time and a smile, then it may well pay off.
Likewise if people tell you they love to read but don't like fantasy. Suggest your name to friends/family but don't make them feel bad.
Every person you talk to should remember you in a positive light.
When it comes to who to talk to, always pick women over men, as women are 70% of fantasy buyers.
Ideally you ask everyone, which means quieter foot traffic can mean better results. But, if faced with a choice of two, I always ask the woman!
Keep track of sales, if you wish, but always remember it's about speaking to people first, selling second. Get the first right and the sales will follow.
People want to meet authors. They want to buy books. You just have to reach out to them.
Next, I'll take you through in-depth tips and tricks to help convert talks into sales.

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