I just returned from a two-week road trip to Deadwood, South Dakota. Researching, signing books, and networking filled my days, while the rumble of the Sturgis Rally motorcycles blocked out the usual sound of wind in the pines. In today’s post, instead of talking about a book I recently read, I’m going to throw out some fun tidbits I learned in my travels. Feel free to chime in with your own on-the-road lessons-learned in the Comments section below.
· Children have to go to the bathroom only AFTER you have asked them twice if they need to go, then gone on your own to restroom and returned to your seat in the vehicle, ready to push onward.
· Beautiful sunny days will interfere with your ability to lure motorcycle riders off of their bikes and come inside to buy your books.
· An interview in a local paper can not only land you book sales for your signings, but can also attract the interest of potential book store venues in the area.
· Montana has two seasons—winter and road construction.
· Making personal contacts with local citizens and retailers is more important than selling a bunch of books.
· The site of the Battle of Little Bighorn now has a cell phone driving tour that is quite excellent.
· History books can’t touch the entertainment-level and research-value of learning the history of a place from a long-time resident with a sharp memory for details.
· Casinos are fun places to have book signings because the waitresses bring drinks by often, the employees keep you company, and the nearby penny slots offer cheap entertainment during slow times.
· The pine beetle is decimating Montana forests and the Asian pine beetle is killing the pines in the Black Hills—all very sad and worrisome to see.
· Stopping in to visit retailers who sell your books, saying “Hi,” thanking them, offering them fun freebies, and seeing what more you can do to help them out takes a bit of time, but is worth every second and more. Relationship marketing in the age of social networking is more important than ever.
· Art gallery owners make great hosts for book signings because they are used to entertaining folks during “showings” and know how to lure potential clients with very visual marketing and promotional campaigns. Art galleries are also very fun places to sign with lots of eye candy.
· The Cracker Barrel restaurant has delicious food and a super-fun store full of old-time candy and 1 lb. Sugar Daddy’s on sticks.
· Treat the employees of all signing venues with the utmost of respect and kindness. They may turn out to be some of your biggest fans and/or help you make more sales because they like you.
· You may make more sales while visiting a local dentist office than at one of your signing venues. You may also get some excellent ideas for your next mystery from the people who spend all day fixing cavities and scraping plaque from teeth.
· If you leave your cat at home alone with your goldfish, you may come home to one less goldfish and a happier-than-usual cat.
· A small restaurant/gas station in the middle of nowhere that features your book next to a fake blood-covered rolling pin in the glass case under the cash register might sell more of your books in a month’s time than a bookstore where you are just one of many.
· Never underestimate how many sales you may make when your promotional pieces sit next to the register at a gas and liquor store. (I learned that a large sector of my audience likes to buy a six pack of Coors after filling their gas tanks—who needs phone surveys when you have fans who run gas/liquor stores?)
There you go, a few things I learned during my trip to Deadwood and back. I’d love to hear any tidbits you have to share about selling your books on the road.
Until next time,