Thursday, November 30, 2006

School Visits

Today I will be visiting the Masters Academy school in Oviedo, FL, my third visit there since my dragons series debuted. I was reminded again of the importance of these visits when I visited a Borders bookstore in Winter Park, the town where I live. Strangely enough, I haven't visited any schools in the immediate Winter Park area, so when I went to the Borders, I wasn't surprised to find only one copy of one of my books. I spoke to the bookstore manager and mentioned that I will be visiting a school in the area soon, and she said she would order "a few" copies.

In contrast, there is a Borders within a half mile of the Masters Academy, and I have visited several schools in the same area. The bookstore manager says he can't keep my books in stock. In one week they sold 61 copies of just one of my books, and that was without a signing. He orders caseloads at a time and asks me to warn him when I'm getting ready to visit another school in the area.

These sales are in addition to what I personally sell while I'm at a school. I tell the students if they don't have money now, just drop in on the Borders. They always carry my books.

This synergy has really worked out well. Because of my efforts, this Borders places my books prominently, thereby increasing sales through customers who might not have seen them otherwise, and Borders gets customers from my referrals who might not otherwise go there.

In short, it's helpful to an author to work together with a friendly bookstore. The teamwork helps us both.

2 comments:

WtB said...

Hello, Bryan

Wayne Batson here. We met at CBA, ahem, ICRS, this past summer. Just discovered your blog. Cool stuff.

I too have discovered the speaking event/school/local bookstore connection. I'm convinced that nothing gets kids more passionate about reading than a well-done author presentation. That, of course, leads to better sales and win-win for all involved.

So many kids in any given school would never see or hear of a book if not for such presentations. Honestly, getting a chance to share with kids AND read to them is my favorite part of being an author.

Another idea that seems to really help is the "Drive by" book signing. Another author friend, JA Konrath, came up with it. A Drive by signing is going to as many bookstores as you can locally or while traveling, meet the managers, CRMs, retailers, clerks. Shake hands, give out freebies, sign stock, and above all, THANK them for all they do to promote your books and reading in general.

This is not a prearranged signing for the public--though while there, hand sell as many books as you can. But just letting the retailer know you care about them and appreciate them has a HUGE impact.

I've had many manager who stocked a copy or two of my Door Within books order lots more on the spot.

Just a thought. Happy to raise a sword with you!

-wayne thomas batson

Clefspeare said...

Wayne,

Thanks for stopping by. I have also done a few "drive by" signings. They're fun, and the manager usually appreciates it.

I think school appearances have been the most valuable promotion tool. I have visited over a hundred schools now and spoken to thousands of kids, and I'm confident this approach has made all the difference.