Archives for category: selling
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“Thank-you!” says the i-phone clutching prospect and moves on

With more than half of my Thursday stint at the author corner in Ottawa’s Byward Market expired and no books sold, I felt blue. My husband and the author beside me left. The manager of the Crazy Moose souvenir shop across the street was not daft enough to take my books on consignment, even  when I told him I had sold eight in two stints over the past ten days. “Nobody reads anymore,” he said. “If you’ve sold that many books in your booth then that’s the way to do it.” The conflict of the Twilight of the Gods of paper and digital is on and every author and bookseller feels it in the pocket.

On my own as the most aggressive of our selling trio, I figured I would complete the day my way, relying on eye contact as well as waiting for a customer to appear.  Here’s what I did before I sold two books and was able to call my day a trumpian success, considering the state of our universe:

  • Stood tall inside my booth to be conspicuous
  • Smiled and relaxed
  • Got into the mood of happy shopping, sesquicentennial celebrating and traveling
  • Controled my grooving to the music rocking the square as I scanned the passing crowd for intelligent faces
  • Rejected those eating ice cream cones or $5 stuffed potato halves that might mess up my books
  • Skipped those preoccupied with their own devices
  • Trusted my eyes to focus on someone who was compatible in some way with me, my writing and my readers (real and imagined)
  • When my gaze was returned, I lifted my eyebrows cordially and tilted my head back a bit as an invitation to them to come over 

Fate ridiculed me by making me oblivious to a woman who sneaked up to look at one of my cookbooks I had left littering the other author’s table at my side. She didn’t have $15 so I lowered the price to $10 and the sale made us both happy.

Then I saw a bent-over, gray-haired woman purposefully propelling herself and her full bag with the aid of a deluxe cane towards her parked car. As she passed by I caught her eye.  She lifted her face to convey a respectful, smiling nod to literacy. I said boldly and clearly to her disappearing back, “I have a very good book for you” and she indicated she would return.

She asked me to tell her about my book and we quickly found common ground.  We both appreciated writing with carefully chosen words, criticism and looking at issues like the residential school tragedies from all sides. She complimented me on my New York Times newsprint dress and wondered if it also came in French. She translates English into French for the federal government. By the time she bought the book and I signed it we were friends. She was Paule (pronounced “Pole”) and I was “Margo” (with a handwritten note giving the name of a chanteur who wrote a song by that title).

To me that was selling books at its best: two persons, strangers only seconds ago, making a pact to keep reading stuff on paper alive.

Happy Reading, Writing and Bookselling!

http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

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margwrong

Authors often bemoan their lack of marketing ability. If you do go out to sell your books, just don’t act like a bumbling disoriented fool like me in this pic. I had a bad first hour at the Byward Market in Ottawa. Once I sat down behind the bright red tablecloth, arranged my most attractive wares, smiled and pivoted my head so I was ready for all comers, I had five hours of fun, sociability and sales. Here’s my advice to help  you get off to a faster start than I did:

  • Don’t be shy.
  • Don’t climb out of your booth.
  • Don’t look at your feet.
  • Don’t put your hand in your pocket
  • Don’t let your hat slide down over your eyes.
  • Don’t pose like a peddler of religious propaganda.
  • Don’t look in the other direction if someone is approaching.
  • Don’t just sit, making phone calls and looking as if you didn’t care if nothing happened either.

I’ll be back selling my three books A Book of Kells, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church at the Byward Market Tuesday, Aug. 2 and Wednesday, Aug.3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and would be delighted to see you if you can drop by!

Happy Reading, Writing & Selling from Cozybookbasics

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany http://www.margaretvirany.com http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

Credit: Library & Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1982-124

Lucky me. I’ll be selling my books and displaying aboriginal artifacts this Sunday afternoon at a site once inhabited by the tribe who greeted the pilgrims on the Atlantic shore. No. The above picture is not a Currier & Ives Christmas card. It is a steel engraving by William H. Barlett famously published in Canadian Scenery Illustrated in 1842. As in the picture,  people will be gathering at the Lake Deschenes bend in the Ottawa River to be warmed and refreshed amid the nostalgic aura of dormer windows, conjoint staircases and veranda vistas.

  • The event this time (Dec. 4) is a light show and artisans’ sale after the Santa Claus parade down Main Street and the Christmas Bazaar at the British Hotel.
  • The Kitchi Sibi Anishinabeg first inhabited this site thousands of years ago. Chief Tessouat was a busy commercial middleman in the years of the fur trade. Champlain and his voyageur explorers rested at this pleasant spot in 1613. They thought they had found a route to China but at least were the first to get as far as Lake Huron. Charles Symmes from Woburn, MA built the Inn in 1831 and helped his uncle Philemon Wright found the townsite. Pioneer settlers made their way to Aylmer from Montreal by stage  coach and stayed overnight before continuing their journey. This was the landing place for busy steamboat traffic.
  • When we moved to Aylmer in 1976 we built a sailboat (from a kit) and berthed it at the Marina (above). One day after sailing I saw one of our municipal councilors, Denise Friend, charge across the parking lot to accost some gentlemen stepping out of a black limousine. They were officials of the Quebec government and had a purse to spend on heritage projects. Soon news came that the historic Inn reduced to rubble after being used as a flea market and consumed by a fire was to be restored. It re-opened in a good imitation of its former glory in 1978.
  • Today it is a Museum with fine exhibits as well as being a heritage gem of the Outaouais region. It will always be at the heart of the townsfolk of the Aylmer sector of the city of Gatineau. That’s why my books, indigenous artifacts and I will be smiling so happily from the inn-side this Sunday. The artifacts I have include a birch-bark basket, two birch-bark trivets, an ermine hat and scarf set and a pair of embroidered moccasin slippers. They’re from my parents’ days as missionaries on the Cree reservation at Oxford House, MN in the roaring twenties. Their story is told in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.
  • Merry pre-Christmas season to you too!

margaretvirany.com

cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

book signing cartoonLike many authors, I used to hate selling but a few easy techniques have made me love it and have fun. This can happen to you too, once you’ve mastered the moves that clinch a sale when your real book meets a live customer. Last Sunday copies of my new paperback flew out the door with almost one-third of the traffic that shopped at Ottawa’s Perfect Books bookstore between 1 and 3 p.m. (20 loners or couples, six books sold.) Here’s my advice; I hope it works just as well for you:

  1. Prepare for your event with a phone call, follow-up visit to the store and a query  just before you come. By the time you get there, you will know the easiest way to drop off your books and the best place to park your car. The owner will have consignment copies of your book on the shelves, posters in the window and a table and chair for you to use. Get there early enough to hang up your coat in the back room and set up your display before you start work.
  2. Begin by making eye contact with the first customer you see. A man held the door open for me and my big box, I thanked him and had sold a copy of my book even before my coat was off! More often, I watched a customer enter the store from a few feet away, while I stood (not sat) at my table in the line of view in a conspicuous spot.
  3. Greet the customer or nod immediately with a friendly smile, before they turn away to browse among the shelves or address the cashier. If they come closer to you —
  4. In an inviting, confident manner hold out your book towards them slightly and say, “This is my new book I am introducing today. Will you take a moment to find out about it?” Most say they will. Your next steps depend on your unique book. I plunge in and tell them the subtitle is ‘A true love story from over the ocean and in the bush after WW1’. I point to my name and say “I’m Margaret”, point to the title word ‘Kathleen’ and say “This is my mother” and let them look at the picture, which explains the title word ‘cariole’ (a fancy toboggan).
  5. Pause. By now, the customer is probably ready to talk to you or ask a question. Be prepared to carry the conversation wherever it may go in order to find common ground in fact or feeling between you two and your book.
  6. Remember the time-honored way of buying books is by browsing and taking time to decide. If the customer says nothing, hand them the book with the back cover turned up and say, “Here”, so they can take their time reading the blurb and quotes from reviews. (My new paperback had already been reviewed in its parallel life as an e-book).
  7. Have a sample copy you don’t mind having fingerprinted by people who’ve been eating a hot dog. Make a written note if it is taken off wandering around the store so you don’t lose count.
  8. Be aware of any other customers who have been eavesdropping on your conversation while they are browsing and make eye contact with them too.
  9. Have an attractive display on your table so it can engage customers on its own. When you are busy talking to someone, stand free of your table so others can look at it. Ingredients of my theme and information display are (1) Tablecloth and decorations in seasonal colors (2) Framed rave review (3) Framed announcement of the day’s event and price (4) Paper scroll of key words (5) Copies of book (6) Signing pen (7) Book marks and (8) Business cards.Authors and independent book stores help each other thrive with events like this book signing at Perfect Books in Ottawa, Canada
  10. Get to know the cashier and establish a relationship that will make you a recurring fixture in the store If, like me, you are not yet a celebrity, the person on duty may be a part-time worker. Signings are held on weekends and your appearance gives the owner and regular employees relief from their duties of informing, entertaining and chatting with customers.
  11. You may or may not have signed a contract and find the cashier is not authorized to pay you. In this case, give the owner a call Monday morning to report how it went and find out when your check will come. Usually the store keeps 40% of receipts. You may have written other books, and want to arrange to put some copies of them in the store too. If you can’t sell one, you may be able to sell another.
  12. Give the store information on how they can order more copies of  your book. My books are printed on demand by CreateSpace, which also provides distribution channels to all major outfits. The bookstore owner looks at a website such as The Book Manager to see if your book is available from a distributor they use, likely Ingram. Since my paperback is new, it will not be listed for six or eight weeks. In the meantime, I will order an inventory of 50 books at a time and retailers can buy them from me. However, CreateSpace will not pay me any royalties until I have accumulated $100 in their account. They do not pay me royalties on the copies I buy, so I am anxious to have the stores enabled to buy them directly.

The few remaining book stores in my city are using authors as a strategy to keep their stores lively. Several ‘Book Events’ are allotted two-hour time slots on Saturdays and Sundays. Readings work well in some locations but only if there is a good group of bodies. More elaborate parties, complete with martinis, may also be held in stores after closing hours to launch books.

I used to waste countless, frustrating hours trying to sell my books to listless shoppers at book fairs or bookstores. Meanwhile, bookstore proprietors stared out their windows, praying for somebody to come in. But when the store-owner and the author get together to have live events like signings and readings, it can be a different story.

Thank you for dropping by. To order a copy of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride  for Christmas or Valentines giving, please contact V&V Publishing, editingexcellence.virany98@gmail.com. To find out more about all e-book and paperback versions of A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride or Eating at Church, click on these links to Amazon, CreateSpace or my website. Bookstores selling my books in the Ottawa area are Black Squirrel, Books on Beechwood, Brittons, Michabou, Octopus and Perfect Books.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!