At the 2016 Writer’s Digest Conference, keynote and Newbery Medal author Kwame Alexander recounted his long road to success. One of the parts of his journey that stuck out for me was when he decided to sell his children’s picture book Acoustic Rooster and his Barnyard Band at farmers’ markets. I don’t trust my memory, but according to a Publishers Weekly article, he sold $1,000 worth of books in a few hours, so he booked many more market days.
This is a great example of lateral thinking, of finding a peripheral sales channel to where you would normally sell books. In Alexander’s case, his book’s theme fit right in with farmers’ markets, which also shared his target demographic: parents.
The trick to finding peripheral sales channels is to think, “Where would my book complement what is already being sold?” If your book is set in a particular city, a table at a street festival in that city with the right signage could be the ticket. You could even collaborate with other local authors (and share costs) in order to make the table a bigger draw. “New fiction set in Seattle, written by Seattleites.” I would visit that table.
If your book speaks to a particular cause, find out which smaller celebrities share your views and passion for this cause. If you find a local band, ask if you can sell your books at a table at their concerts for some quid pro quo. Maybe in exchange, you’ll sell their CDs at other events you’re tabling at, or add links within your book as a recommended soundtrack to accompany reading.
If your genre is mystery, horror, or thriller, think about opportunities around Halloween. Are there events you could sell your books at, again, perhaps partnering with other authors? My city does an annual posh do at our art gallery. It’s a place where people are mingling, cash in hand for overpriced cocktails. And while they’re browsing the art on the walls, would they be interested in hearing about your form of written art?
There will be some trial and error, but to cut down on the error, really think about your marketing strategy and all the logistics going in. If you’re at a Halloween bash, should you be in a great costume in addition to your concise and attractive signage? If you’re at a concert, are you really happy with that table where no one can see you, or could you be closer to where there’s lots of traffic, like near a bar or washroom? Is it possible to add a mini-lounge area (a couple of chairs) where readers can take a load off and read your first pages prior to investing in the whole book? And have you set up and practiced with the software you’ll need to accept all forms of payment? Look into an app like Square Up, and have a sufficient float so that you’re never stuck saying, “Can you wait while I find change?” Have you figured out how to email redemption codes to those purchasing the e-version? Don’t expect people to remember their Amazon login or to even be comfortable typing their password onto your laptop. And do you have enough hard-copy books to sell? If you’re expecting a lot of traffic, have you pre-signed copies, or do you have a friend who can handle transactions while you’re custom-signing each copy as they are purchased?
This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. So many great blogs to keep hopping through. Click here to join the hop and to see what other writing tips you can glean from this month’s edition.
Can you think of any peripheral sales channels for your book? Care to share in the comments? Have you ever tried selling your book in a place where books aren’t the main focus?