Last Saturday I had my very first official bookstore signing at the busiest location available in my entire province. I was excited by prospect of being in a target rich environment with the potential to move many books. I could not imagine a better opportunity but I did make myself a personal pledge to go into it with no expectations and no hopes.
From 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. I sold 4 books. The total money made for the store was $83.96. My personal profit was about $12.00. I did not take the pushy approach; I did not sit insecurely behind my table. I moved around the store. I struck up conversations with shoppers. I feel confident I got every sale I should have so why so few sales?
I was set up in the front of the store, at the mall entrance near the till so people saw me as they were entering and leaving. However many of the people coming in avoided my table choosing to come in away from my position. Next time I will pick a better location.
I was incredibly upset to discover I did forget a pivotal piece to erect my banner properly. This was a huge mistake. From my last sale I saw how helpful the banner was at illustrating with a quick glance what the book is about. More importantly it really helps me stand out in a busy environment.
According to the staff the store was not as busy as it normally should have been. It seemed busy enough to me; there was a great deal of traffic. However the store is also a mall entrance and many of the people were not at Indigo to purchase books, but were just passing through on their way to the rest of the mall.
Those who lingered and browsed were selecting nonfiction. In fact one of the staff actually pointed out how little fiction is really in the store. Only thirty percent of the books are actually fiction. Contemporary romantic fiction is a small part of this segment.
The last and scariest reason I discovered because I was stationed so close to the till and I was able to see what people were purchasing. Over half of the purchases made were not books, but rather items from the other part of the store, for example, toys from the children’s’ section, curtain hangers from the home decorating section, and dishes from the giftware section. It was truly shocking to see the traffic was steady, but the purchases were few books or no books at all.
I deeply want my writing to contribute financially to my family. I realize this is a goal that will not be accomplished overnight; I must be prepared to do the work. After this experience it is hard not to wonder if writing books is a pipe dream. Seven hours put $12.00 in my pocket. Actually that is a horrible lie because I left the store having bought double the number of books I sold and it cost me at least a hundred in fifty dollars in travel expenses. I’m left wondering if this is really the best use of my time?
Indigo would like me to come back and it wasn’t so difficult a work day that I have any anxiety about doing it again. It’s all part of the learning process and I am committed to learning every aspect of book sales and promotion so when my year is done I will be wiser, more experienced, and I will have all the information necessary to proceed more successfully in the future.
Once the disappointment wore off I got to thinking about sales and fan base. I have sold three hundred print copies of my novel; I have sold fifty digital editions. I know my book has been shared by many. The copies I have put in the library system have been steadily lent out. I may not have hit five hundred sold copies yet but I am close to having five hundred readers of my work. That is something.
This fall is going to be exceptionally busy with several events each month and I am hoping to line up more. I am honored to find out I will once again be a book club selection at another library plus I am going to be a guest speaker for another town’s cultural days. I have several library visits set up, and two book sales with other authors which I am really looking forward to. I have 200 books to go and then I will be able to focus on my work in progress. One thing about being on the road it doesn’t get the next book done. At least I have a very clear perspective that if I am ever going to make a living at this, it is going to happen one book at a time and one sale at a time.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to encourage me and give me some advice. It really made a difference!