Meeting the Public   4 comments

Feb. 26, 2018 – Do you attend Author/Reader Events? What do you offer on your tables and how do you interact with readers?

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I live in Alaska, which means I am a long way away from everywhere else. It’s a great place for a writer to live because the weather calls you indoors for half the year, but it makes things like book conventions prohibitively expensive.

Image result for image of a author tableI have participated in a few electronic conventions and not found them particularly helpful in selling books – a lot of work usually involving my getting up at an insane time of the morning (time zones, doncha know?) and I didn’t sell any more books than a Facebook advert has.

Alaska is a very artsy community, however, and it’s a community that is isolated, so people plan their own events. My favorite of these is 1st Friday. Local businesses keep their doors open on the first Friday evening of the month and invite the public in.

Imagine:

  • A sporting goods store displaying art work from local artists and is okay with a table where authors can sell books
  • A beauty shop putting out hors d’oeuvres while a local bluegrass band or ensemble group plays in the background and a table where authors can sell books
  • A used book store in a mini-mall hosting a table for local authors to sell their new books
  • A coffee shop that allows writers to take over a table to sell their books while the resident band plays

I cannot take full advantage of this all the time because I buy my books POD from Createspace, so the cost outlay keeps me from doing this up big, but I have several friends from the local writer’s guild who have boxes of books in their garage, so I help cover their tables and I hand out flyers for my books with a discount code. I always sell a couple of books in the week following, so it’s worth it to spend a pleasant evening interacting with people who I enjoy and talking to the public.

What I learn from the public is that not all Alaskans want to read Alaskana, so they are surprised to encounter an Alaska novelist who does not write Alaska-based fiction. Surprised and pleased.  What I’ve also learned is that I really need to put my books into Ingram so I can buy in bulk and take better advantage of the local paperback market.

4 responses to “Meeting the Public

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  1. What a good idea 1st Friday is! We need to have something like that in the UK.

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    • Yeah, it’s just a local thing started maybe five years ago by a musician who owns a coffee shop downtown who started talking with her neighbors. Next thing you know, it’s a regular event that has expanded its territory by quite a bit with businesses all over town participating. The original goal was for one business to host it every month on a rotation basis and then for customers to hit all the locations, but since the geography has changed, people aim to go to one or two locations, usually including the host site. We don’t participate every month, but I try to give a friend a hand at their table at least once a quarter. It’s kind of unique when a tire store offers cheese and wine, good live music and books for sale. We skip the wine, but it’s the thought that counts. And, that reminds me, I should check to see where the host event is this coming Friday.

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      • Good luck with selling your books there. It’s somewhat harder here to get a foot in the door…

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      • It’s hard to do it affordably here. I can’t afford to order a ton of books, so I’m paying POD prices. The local book stores want books posted with Ingram and there’s a cost there as well. I really don’t sell many print books. But I take it slow, wait for my books to make some money as e-books and then buy a few and put them on friends’ tables. And, then I also put out flyers alerting people to the ebooks. That actually gets some sales — I think.

        Liked by 1 person

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