Yesterday I had a book signing in the small town of Bisbee, an event I set up with Joan, the owner, several weeks ago. I sat outside a store called Atatlanta's Music and Books that carries a little bit of everything! Unfortunately for the local residents, Joan plans to close the store by early fall. From what she told me her long stint in retail is coming to a close due to not enough business and burnout. People are now shopping at the big box stores over in the next town, a fact that is affecting local small business across the country.
In any case I did absolutely nothing to prepare for this event, not even posting on FB or putting a sign in the store window. I went in cold turkey, my only hope being that the holiday weekend would bring more foot traffic.
Just after I set up a rickety table and two chairs, a thunderstorm came through. Hail hit the streets scattering pedestrians who hurried to stand in doorways or take the opportune moment to head to a restaurant. Luckily I was under an overhang, on a tiled entryway in which the name J.C. Penney had been emblazoned. The town was booming back when the mine was going. After the hail came a few showers, and then sun. People began to walk up and down the streets again, many of them heading inside Atatlantis.
Several people came by to say hello, my first sale to an unlikely youngish man. After that I found myself making more eye contact and chatting with those who seemed so inclined. When three older women came by I said hello to one of them. She lingered for a moment, caught by the cover of Gypsy's Quest. We talked for a moment or two about the books and then she bought Gypsy's Quest, saying that it spoke to her. Encouraged, I began asking people if they needed a book to read--this was an out-of- character gregarious behavior that may have been due to the amount of ozone in the air. It was another half hour or so before another woman stopped by to ask about the books. I told her she didn't have to buy all three, the backstory was woven into the last book of the trilogy, The Wolf Moon. Despite this she bought all three!
I learned several things from sitting there:
1. It's fun
2. I like people
3. Three hours goes by quickly
4. You never know who may be interested in your books
5. Being pessimistic about what may happen has no effect on what actually does happen
On the way home I thought of three more things I need to do to help with marketing:
1. Have an e-mail list going (I wish I had done this yesterday)
2. Make a large poster-size display of at least one of the books to draw people from afar.
3. Have a couple of simple quips ready to write inside the books-'Hope you enjoy' or 'Thank you' gets boring after a while. (also practice writing my name occasionally so I don't leave off or add an extra l at the end of Broadwell)