I’ve been doing a lot of signings lately for Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story by Michele Sabad. My retirement life as an author has kept me interested, busy, and happy. As a student of human nature, I didn’t get out in the public much in my former life as a computer programmer, sitting at cubicles in the bowels of the government. So here are some observations of the natural book-buying habitats I’ve encountered as a visiting author doing sales and signings.
The types of reader/buyers vary according to the bookstore location or event type. For example, Indigo has 3 types of stores, and each attracts their specific clientele.
Coles : In the malls. Converting to the Indigo Spirit brand. My experience here has been most successful in the smaller, older malls. Less browsers, more book buyers. Smaller towns even better. Everyone will say hello to an author, and a higher percentage of them will buy from you. They’re getting crowded, though, as Indigo gets into the merchandise business (candles, pens, diaries, other collectible knick-knacks. The latest I see for Christmas is knives and hatchets?! Seriously?!)
Chapters : the older-fashioned box stores. My favourite, by the way, where I myself go to buy books. Again, people are happy to see an author here and will engage. But alas, the merchandise must still be displayed, and visiting authors are shoved beside the candles and stationary. I do a lot of directing to the washrooms here.
Indigo : the newer-fashioned box stores. Modern, huge, department-store compartmentalized, eg. a section walled off for scarves and purses. They still carry all the books, but you must wade through the merchandise to get to them. I was surprised at first that sales were harder in these stores because they’re so darned beautiful. But it makes sense : these stores attract many browsers, more of the “sorry, I don’t read” clientele (!!!), and many more kids. Saturday mornings an adult book author may as well not even try – busy young families running in to buy birthday presents for that afternoon’s birthday party is the largest segment of clientele.
Then there are the events, the shows. Places where an author can pay(or not) for a table to sell their books. These are very hit and miss. I did one outside a library, and sold few. I did one at a military-themed show and sold many. I’ve done military brat reunions and sold the most.
Lesson : Find your audience and go to where they are.
I’ll do another post soon about some specific human book buyer incidents, like from the kid who asked if the military police were the Gestapo! But enough for now – I like short posts, and I hope you like reading them.