Since I’m going to be speaking on this topic, and a few others, this coming weekend at the All Write! Conference in Cape Girardeau, I thought I’d touch a few sales practices for book events.
Yes, sales. If you’ve never had a sales job, particularly one that paid straight commission, you might be hesitant to actually attempt book sales IRL—in other words, somewhere besides the Internet.
At most book events, you’ll have a table and a couple chairs. You aren’t required to actually sit in the chair the entire time . . .
Let’s look at it this way:
You walk into a store, any store, and see someone sitting at a table with samples of . . . just about any product. What will make you walk up to that table and start a conversation or examine the products?
Well, you have to be interested enough in the product to approach the seller, right? And/or the seller has to make some kind of eye contact, and smile, and appear welcoming, and maybe even start the conversation, yes?
That’s you. The product—your book—must have a great cover, and YOU, the seller, must usually initiate any interaction.
Naturally, you aren’t going to scream, “BUY MY BOOK! NOW!” but you can totally make inane remarks like, “Still hot out there?” or even “Looks like we’re in for a big storm, huh?”
In sales, there are direct and indirect questions to pose to potential customers. These two, above, are direct—they require a yes or no answer. But you can’t stop there; these questions merely break the ice. You have to follow up, a key principle in sales, and you eventually have to close the sale.
So you get a conversation going, you connect to customers, you find common ground, you make it personal. We’re talking books here, not a $2000 appliance. Make the connection, make it personal, a conversation just between you and the customer and, at the very least, they’re going to buy your $15 book because they now KNOW YOU. You are a friend. Who doesn’t want to help out a friend?
And just like your friends who already bought your book, whether or not they have or intend to ever read it, whether they like the genre or not, whether they think the book is terrible—it doesn’t matter, THEY BOUGHT THE BOOK!
You have another sale, and someone, someday, will read it and maybe even (gasp) review it!
People come to my table for the candy. 🙂
What kind? LOL
Miniature candy bars until I run out. Then I have to go to the cheap stuff. 🙂
Oh yeah me. In a bookstore I’d be reading books to avoid conversations… I really don’t look forward to book promotions and signings or… maybe I can get someone else to do that for me.
You’ll be fine – we’re all fine, it’s something we have to do. Usually. 😉
My conversation would probably go like this:
ME – Hi, How is it going?
BB – (book buyer) Er I was looking for a book.
ME – Over there in that corner.
BB – OH! Thank you!
ME – Whew.
Okay maybe not THAT bad, but…
Hahaha! Oh, Mike, you’ll get used to it – esp. when you’re on the talk show circuit…