Yesterday, I attended my first author event. I was pleasantly surprised of the outcome.
You see, this was not the standard event where the author goes to some book store loaded with books and giveaway items hoping to snare passersby, it was something altogether different. Yesterday I set up a table at a local flea market.
I know, it seems strange and counter intuitive to do such a thing but I was quite surprised at the results. I sold more books than expected and most of all, met many new friends-wonderful people, some aspiring authors.
I was offered this opportunity by a friend of mine who attends this event on the first weekend of each month with their father who sells tools. Yes, I had my little table set up next to some guy hawking tools at a flea market. But I didn't go for the hard sell, instead, I simply drew passersby to my table with the offer of free mints and a free bookmark. Once they approached my little table, I would start with "my latest story takes place right here in Montgomery, Alabama." We were set up in a nearby city so that piqued the interest of many. From there, I simply answered their questions and asked questions of my own. I was surprised with how many people actually decided to buy a book but even more surprised with the number of people changed their minds after I mentioned the last little fact that the main character just happens to be a shape shifting werewolf.
Surprisingly, that was the clincher that sealed the deal for many.
They would respond with something like, "Oh, that's what I like to read" before offering up the names of all the authors they read in the genre.
But the most surprising of all was that I sold nearly as many copies of my first novel, Lovestruck Succubus when I did not even have it displayed on the table. You see, since I live in the South, and many outwardly shun the possibility of what they consider "ungodly" books, I kept those books in a cardboard box and displayed an alternate cover on my poster.
When people asked, "is Lexi's Run part of a series?" I would say "why yes, and I have some with me, but I can't display them because this book is very adult in nature." I could see their eyes bloom with that statement and, more often than not, they immediately wanted a copy.
I must say though, that I learned much from this event. I discovered the importance of offering something, like free bookmarks, to get people to your table. I discovered that more books are sold by simply engaging those you meet in meaningful conversation rather than pushing your products on them. Most of all, I feel I met many new friends throughout the day and I'm thankful for each and every one of them.
I keep going back to the bookmarks and I must express that these were not professionally made. I simply created them on photoshop and took that graphic to my local store to have two bookmarks printed on a sheet of 4X6 photo paper. I cut them in half and, viola, I had over a hundred bookmarks. The back of the bookmarks were blank whit paper and I used that to practice signing my name while waiting for potential customers to stroll by. Not only were people impressed that I gave them a signed bookmark and signed copies of my books, it also helped me add flair to my author signature. Because, let's face it, if it weren't for mechanical or electronic writing machines, my handwriting would be virtually unreadable.
For those customers and new friends that approached my table, I thank you. For those other authors that either are considering something like this or simply shun the thought as beneath the dignity of an author to sell their books at a flea market, I say just give it a try. Besides, it's not just about selling stories, it's about meeting the people who read your work. I am proud to say that not one of the people buying books at my table yesterday knew who I was even though I am local-now they do.