One of the most important pieces of advice I took away from this year's seminar came about in a casual conversation over dinner. I had the privilege of spending a few hours with NYT best-selling author Brandon Sanderson. The conversation ranged from royalties, to plotting, to anything and everything Brandon related. When I mentioned that I had a Barnes & Noble signing coming up, he offered up some practical advice. He said to always bring extra copies of your book. Don’t try to sell them yourself because the bookstore wouldn’t appreciate that; however, you can work out a deal to sell your copies as if the store had ordered the books themselves. After the event, they can order books to replace the ones out of your stock.
It's a simple and elegant plan where everyone wins. And I had the opportunity to test it out.
This past weekend I participated in my second book signing. The Brandon, FL Barnes & Noble hosted an event for several local authors. We were a magnificent group of seven, with books spanning the genres from thriller to self-help, religion, inspirational, and my contemporary fantasy. No two authors' genres overlapped, so we had a little bit of everything to offer. After setting up, and before the signing officially started, we mingled a little, handing out business cards and exchanging information. Everyone was really cool.
For a local author event like this, Barnes & Noble is pretty conservative. According to their stats, most authors only sell four or five copies. Just in case, they may order a few more. They ordered ten copies of Knight of Flame with the expectation they might have some left over.
I was concerned. I shouted the details for the signing from every physical and virtual rooftop I could find, so I had high hopes that I'd have a decent turn out. That being said, I didn’t want anyone who made the trip to the book store to walk away without a signed book.
Other authors had said that Barnes & Noble wouldn't let them sell their own books when the store's stock ran dry. Readers wanting a book had to have it shipped to their house. While they did eventually get a book, it wasn't signed.
So, keeping Brandon's advice in mind, I brought extra copies in the hope the store would go for the plan. There is a difference in the author selling directly versus providing additional stock for Barnes & Noble to sell.
On the day of the signing, I sold out of the B&N copies in the first thirty minutes. It was awesome. At one point I actually had a line four deep. As the stock dwindled and we still had ninety minutes left in the schedule, I made the suggestion Brandon talked about. At first, the Customer Relations Manager thought I suggested selling my books on consignment, and didn't go for it. But, once I explained that I was allowing them to sell my stock as if it was their own, after mulling it over, she went for it. Sweet! I grabbed a few copies from my bag and kept signing.
The bottom line is it’s really a win-win-win. The store sells more books, and makes their customers happy. The readers get what they came for -- a signed book. The author gets the additional sales, happy readers, and a stronger relationship with the book store.
"Against the Shadow, burns a noble light."