On the road again

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,

Ann

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22 responses to “On the road again

  1. *laughs* Nearly destroyed my laptop there! *puts coffee down*

    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.

    This would be why I don’t have fish. 😀 Because it would cost me a fortune in replacement fish!

    • It’s a real mystery, I swear. Both housesitters don’t know what happened to the third goldfish (named: Santa Claus). I told my youngest that Santa had to return to the North Pole to help out his namesake in preparation for Christmas. Not sure she believes me. In the meantime, We are searching for fish bones and clues. 😉 The cat has pleaded the 5th.

  2. Montana has two seasons—winter and road construction.

    Santa Fe must be part of Montana.

  3. Made me laugh half a dozen times but I especially like the gas station with your book and a blood-covered rolling pin. I’m glad you emphasized the fake, because I might have thought it was real!

    Kate

  4. Great post. Find a good cartoonist, I think you are on to a new book–“Traveling With Ann” I see a best seller in the making!

    Love the Cat mystery.

    Wally

  5. Fun post, and we can learn a thing or two from it, too. I’m glad you had a great time, and wow, it’s awesome that your books are in non-trad sites like gas stations and liquor stores. Hey, I’ll have a rich friend soon! (I hope!)

  6. Hi Ann,

    I agree that real relationships are still important in the age of social media and I like that you stopped and talked to people in many different venues showing us that our audience is everywhere and any of our readers can sell our books and give us ideas for another one.

    I’ve found that children have to go to the bathroom about 30 minutes after leaving the house and many words of encouragement to take care of that business now. 🙂

    Very glad you had such a fun and successful trip and thankful you shared the fun bits and priceless information.

  7. Wow–so many nuggets of wisdom in there, Ann, thanks for posting. You made my day. I haven’t really hit the road with my books yet, but I plan to after my Berkley Prime Crime mystery comes out in December, and I’ll remember the casinos and art galleries as possibilities.

    So far my biggest laugh regarding interacting with readers is that readers tend to think that I and my protagonist Sam are the same person, so they make comments to me about my friends and relatives, who are actually Sam’s friends and relatives. Yikes! Sam and I do have a lot of similarities, but hey, it’s fiction! My apologies to my *real* relatives; I love you all dearly!

    My best road trip story is about stopping one late night in my van at a remote rest stop in the Texas panhandle. After using the restroom, I returned to my van. As I started the engine and turned on the lights, a man stepped out in front of the van and dropped his pants, giving me the full monty. I thought, “Really?” Then I hit the gas. It was pretty entertaining to watch him hop off the pavement and dive into the bushes with his pants around his ankles.

    I have to find a place for that in one of my books someday.

    • Pam, LOL!!! That is hilarious. I will beware next time I’m in the panhandle. Have my gas pedal foot ready. That must go in a book. I can see why your readers get confused about you and Sam. You did such a good job with her that she seems real. I loved her! The action in her story was incredible. Thanks for the great tidbits! Ann

  8. Judith, you know children well! I came away from this trip understanding more the power of networking face-to-face. Sales are wonderful, but making friends and interacting with readers is much more fulfilling. Thanks for your comment. Ann

  9. Ha! Who needs bookstores when you can sell at gas stations and liquor stores! Hilarious.

  10. Selling books on the road? What a great idea. I am getting more into that mindset though. On a recent trip to Montreal where I go every year to visit my mother, I arranged a book signing as well. There’s no reason not to sell where ever I travel, right?

    Glad to hear of your good experience on the road.

    eden

  11. I remember those long haul car trips, my mum saying ‘you better go now cos we’re not stopping!’
    How’s the forensic search going for Santa? I can hear the cat now – ‘Santa attacked me and I was forced to defend myself.’
    And I love the rolling pin idea – truly brilliant idea for marketing. sounds like you guys had a great trip.

  12. Hi Sandra, my crazy Aussie/trick-or-treat buddy! I caught the cat drinking from the fish tank this a.m. and the fish were all congregating around her tongue think they might be getting food. Dumb fish. I think that is the answer to our mystery. But the cat is still denying any wrongdoing. 🙂

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