Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bright colors, dull sales

We visited our son in Austin for a few days—a 1300-mile round trip—and I packed copies of my novel in the car, hoping to do a little business along the way. I already have two retail customers, and I’d hoped to add to my client list.

Seeing our son was more important, of course. He showed us around the city, we ate too much, and we spent a couple of hours at the Zilker Botanical Garden, which is beginning to show some beautiful colors.

My gift shop customer in Johnson City still has a dozen copies of my book from her last purchase. Business is generally slow, she said. They just aren’t getting much foot traffic at this time of year. She still sells copies now and then, but she is hoping that business picks up a lot in spring when everything is abloom at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

My restaurant customer still has a ton of copies of When Pigs Fly left, including four at a prominent counter display. My wife and I ate lunch there on our way home, and we watched as two fellows stood and looked at the book. One of them picked it up and flipped through the pages, appearing to be on the verge of buying. His friend said he was pretty sure he’d heard of it. Then the man picked it up again, flipped through the pages again. Then, oblivious to the urgent brainwaves I was transmitting (“Buy it, already!”), they left without the book. I like to think they’ll be back.

One of the loveliest towns along the route to Austin is Fredericksburg, where I found a small, independent bookstore. I walked in and introduced myself and my book. The lady said that business is very slow now, but the book looked interesting. She suggested I come back later and speak to her husband, so I left the copy with her to examine.

Later, the man said my book’s pricing wasn’t too bad for a self-published book. But he has a deep-seated prejudice against “dot-com” publishers and everything they publish. I said I understand fully, and that’s why he’d be dealing only with me. And yes, the irregular quality of the books can be an issue, but my book has gotten great reviews. No, that’s not it, he said. It’s the discounts. I told him what I was offering, ten percent better than iUniverse. Fine, he said. but there is also the problem of non-returnability. But you’d be dealing with me and not them, I said, and I will accept returns.

He was still skeptical, so I told him he could hold onto the book, read it, and judge it on its merits. He seemed to think that was fair. I don’t expect immediate business from him in any case, but I hope that we will eventually do business.


Ruth D~ said...

From your unofficial PR lady:

The next time you watch a man flip through your book, you wander up to the counter and say, (with enthusiasm) ,"Oh my God, honey, (to your wife, who then leaps to your side). "They still have copies of "pigs!!! It sold out everywhere but here!!!"

Then pause, and say to the flipper, "Oh sorry, were you going to buy this? Go right ahead."

monideepa sahu said...

Ruth's idea is just great :-) Try it next time, and jsut think, you're looking for quality readers who will buy and love your book. They will come in increasing numbers, mark my words.