Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Life on the Road

Blechta here.

My headspace has changed radically since Mssr. Benoit's reality check about what it is we're really doing and it has made a huge difference in what I view as success and failure out in the bookstores as I make my way through a pretty grueling promotional schedule this month.

Unlike Vicki, I view everyone as a potential reader and it's seems to be paying off. Yeah, most younger people either ignore you or say no, but I've had a fair number (probably those taking creative writing in school) who stop and say, "Cool. You wrote this?" (As an aside: the cover of A Case of You does have a young lady rather prominently on it, which I think is helping in this case.) On Saturday, I sold 3 books to young people.

Vicki is spot on about the fact that our prime audience is middle-age women. I'm also finding older men (say over 60) like to read crime fiction as opposed to middle-age men who are most prone to rushing by saying, "I don't have time to read," or "I only read non-fiction."

The change in me (due to the Benoit Influence -- sounds like a Ludlum novel, doesn't it?) is that I don't feel bad when somebody walks by -- certainly not like I used to. Yes, if tons of people walk by, I'm sure I'd feel something, maybe frustration, but being more relaxed myself, I'm finding it easier to get people to stop and chat.

Having toured with Barbara Fradkin last time out (she is actually Dr. Barbara Fradkin, the psychologist), I watched as she worked the bookstore crowds. There was a certain calm about her. She never made an approach to anyone who obviously didn't want to be bothered (head averted, eyes down or those who take a sharp left or right as soon as they spot you), but it was her body language, I decided, that led people to gravitate to her.

With that in mind, I try to look open, approachable, friendly, and certainly not hysterical to make a sale. Looking lonely and forlorn doesn't work either, but I'm sure you all know that by now.

So what have the results been? I've been moving between 20 and 30 books at each signing. My low is 12 and my high is 36, and that's up by about 35% from the past two tours. Now, to be fair, both those tours were with other people involved. This can work very well (Vicki and I proved that), but often times people seem to feel uncomfortable about buying one author's book and not the other's, and if you think it's hard to sell 1 book to each interested person, try moving 2.

Through it all, I keep mentally saying the Charles Mantra: "I'm an author signing MY book in a bookstore. How cool is that?"

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