Stop Me and Buy One!

Coming up with innovative ways to sell your books is a full-time job. I often resolve to give up my ludicrous marketing attempts and just get on with writing more books, but when my brain is having a day off from working on the latest WIP, I find it helps to give it something useful to do. Trying out new, and quite frankly ridiculous, ventures seems to do the trick.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to go on holiday. Hubby and I were celebrating an important event – I forget what it was now – which involved a trip to the Canary Islands. If ever there was an opportunity to sell some books, it’s going on a trip somewhere, where people are going to be looking out for something to read. So, I had a plan of action of what to do before I travelled abroad. Here is my madcap advice if you are bold enough, brazen enough and probably stupid enough, along with my results. Before you leave, you will need:

1) A good business card. (You can get cheap but professional cards at many websites. I chose who were excellent.)

2) Pack a stack of postcards or bookmarks of your books with cover images on front and blurb on back, along with relevant links to your websites.

3) If your books are on Smashwords, prepare a coupon with an amount off and make With Compliment slips, containing that code and Smashword website information.

4) Pack as many books as you can. Some in your hand luggage and some in your suitcase. You won’t need many clothes anyway; after all, it’ll be sunny.

Once at the airport, you will need to be confident. Approach people and ask if they have a Kindle, iPad etc and offer them either one of your cards or with compliments slips letting them know you are doing a special promotion on your books. Obviously, it will be how you go about this that will be important. I targeted women, got chatting to them and asked if they had chosen a book for holiday then suggested the ideal holiday read – one from my humorous collection. I informed them that I had a new book out in a couple of weeks and maybe they would like to take advantage of the offer on my best selling previous books. I gave them a card and handed over a Smashwords coupon offering them 50% off my other books. Word of warning – don’t hassle people. Make it friendly and casual.

On board the plane. Get on board first and grab the attention of the one of the stewardesses before they get too busy. Tell them you have a few copies of your best selling books in your hand luggage and could you possibly offer them to some of the passengers in exchange for featuring them in your next novel. (See Jeanette, I remembered your name.) If you are lucky, they’ll even let you say a few words over the tannoy system. I managed a whole set. Several jokes later, some chat about my novels and I had sold all thirty that I had packed in my hand luggage, before I reached seat 18D.

At the resort, ask at hotel reception if you can leave your postcards with them for fellow guests to see and maybe a few signed copies?

If there is a market day at the resort, you are on to a winner. Grab a chair and put up a sign that says Best-Selling or Award Winning Author Signing, somewhere near the market; maybe outside a cafe (I bribed a cafe owner with a copy of one of my books and two stilettos key rings.) Pile up the books you packed in your partner’s suitcase and sit back. They will sell themselves.

Go around all the other hotels and leave your cards at hotel reception desks or chat to people who are using Kindles while sitting on the beach, offering them discount coupons.

Does this madness work? Let’s do the maths. I took sixty-five books. I sold them all. I handed out a two hundred Smashwords coupons. I had one hundred and eighty-four downloads. I gave out forty business cards. I sold fifty-six copies on Amazon. No, they are not huge sales but if you add up what I made in a week, it helped pay for the trip. I’d have managed a few more sales if my other half hadn’t insisted that I pack it all in and spend some time actually on holiday.

So, there you have it. It is crazy? Yes. Brazen? Yes. However, I think it was successful. During the course of the week I bumped into some of the people I’d approached. They were very pleased to see me, shook my hand, treated me like a celebrity and introduced me to their new friends they’d made at their hotels. They told me they had enjoyed my book and would be recommending it to friends back home. I therefore concluded that the personal touch works well if handled properly in the right situation.

Would I do it again? I would, but, judging by the grumpy mood my other half adopted while on holiday, I don’t think I’ll be given that opportunity.

Author: Carol Wyer

Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous novels including MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES, SURFING IN STILETTOS, and HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR GRUMPY. Carol has been featured on NBC News, BBC Radio, and in The Huffington Post. For more about Carol, go to her website or her Amazon author page.

48 thoughts on “Stop Me and Buy One!”

  1. Way to go! I got chatting to a woman on the plane to UK. I noticed she was reading a Kindle, offered her a free copy of my first novel. I took her email address and sent it too her a few days later. She was delighted. I have just received an email telling me she purchased my second, I have a fan, and will I inform her when new ones are due out. It pays to be a little bold and friendly. 🙂

      1. Bravo Glynis! This is what I mean. People like that personal touch and when they can put a face to the book they are happy readers. (Well, that’s my take on it.)
        Definitely be bold and friendly and of course, always, always, always, very polite.

  2. Carol,
    This just goes to confirm my rapidly-forming hypothesis that you, madam, are one of the most awesome Indie Authors there are. That’s a remarkable thing to do and make it work. I think quite a few authors would have reservations about just putting it out there and hoping for the best, but you show us that it can work if handled properly. Wonderful stuff, Carol – well done!

    1. “Awesome” can I use that on the back of my next book, Chris? 🙂
      It’s all a question of being brave (and a touch crazy). I don’t think it went down too well with the other half though. Try out a weakened form and wave your book about when you are next on the train, although given where you live, that might not work too well.
      Thank you for the fabulous comment. I am glowing now.

    1. When I visit you we’ll go hunting together…imagine it, a pack of indie authors. No one will be safe!
      Seriously, I appreciate it isn’t for everyone only demented Brits who are trying out all sorts of mad things so they can write about it here.

  3. Kudos, woman! Shy little writers like me could learn a few things from you ! 😀 I did, however, sell a few books on a cruise. Which requires incredible soft-sell restraint, unless you want the captive audience to run in the other direction every time they see you coming! Waiting until the wine comes out helps. At least it helped me.

  4. Wow Carol – You are a go getter! I’ll be rethinking my next trip. The difference is that wherever we go my husband does that for me – I’m the one saying “why don’t you quit and we’ll go get something to eat?” ha ha. I accuse him of accosting people everywhere we go. I’m glad he’s proud but he overdoes it a little sometimes. But, you’re right, it does help sell books and I’ve met many new prospects because of his tactics and good nature. I love the idea of setting up outside a cafe – haven’t tried that yet. Anything we can do to get our names out there is worth checking out!

    1. I’d happily swap husbands for these events. Mine shuffles about looking murderous.
      Make sure you don’t book your trip to the same destination as me or you might find I’ve bagged all the best spots!
      Good luck and well done to your husband.

      1. Ha ha! I’ll be sure to send you my travel itinerary Carol. But if we happen to connect maybe my husband could give yours a short training session? I’m lucky, I know – mine rocks (as long as I can keep him corralled).

  5. LOL, you’ll get me started all over again, and here’s me just having clamped down on my constant one woman marketing efforts. I’m in awe of you, Carol, I really am. I’m considering having a T-shirt made; book cover and “ask me about it now” or something, haw haw haw. I just mad enough to carry that off too! Great post, thank you!

    1. Nicky, seeing as you managed to stop shoppers in a busy mall by singing, I think you could carry off even more than me! Get that T-shirt made”

  6. Wonderful post, Carol. I have disliked selling efforts in the past, but I can manage to be charming on-on-one, and mimic your courage. Your effforts inspire me to pack a suitcase full of books for my next trip.

  7. Carol – you are a genius – I just wish I had your balls. I used to go around putting promo postcards in the sick bag holders on the cross channel ferries – but maybe that wasn’t the ideal product association method? Good on you!

    1. Oh, Emma, I love the idea of reaching for a sick bag and being distracted by one of your cards! You have no excuses. French markets are perfect for loitering around with a large bag of books. Allez!

  8. Wow Carol, I’m planning a trip to Sicily, flying into Rome, but coming back on the transatlantic crossing (7 days and 6 nights to promote my book.) The various luggage restrictions (dimensions and weight) on smaller airlines I’m taking for the international flights are a nightmare, so carrying books just won’t be possible. But of course I have my postcards and business cards to hand out, and I could ship some books to Southampton, where they will be waiting for me in my room. I’m hoping to give a book reading in the library of the QM2. The Brits do seem to love hearing about Joan of Arc, and many of the passengers will be from the UK.
    How I miss the good old days, when traveling was so much less complicated and we had travel agents taking care of the details. Planning this trip has been a full time job! THANK YOU for the ingenious ideas.

  9. Oh my goodness! Please tell us all about your reading on the QM2. Think of all the press releases you can send out too saying you performed on the QM2. I am envious.
    I am also a big Joan of Arc fan. Mind you, I am a Francophile so that helps.
    Good luck and have fun. Forget the books. Just enjoy the trip!

  10. These are great ideas, Carol! The only thing I’ve done along these lines so far is to leave a copy of one of my books in the lending library of the river cruise ship I was on last fall. Part of the book is set in Prague, which was one of the stops on our itinerary. I just hope the crew didn’t throw it out after I got off the ship, lol.

    1. Girl Guide motto Jo-Anne “Be prepared”. It’s a good idea to have ideas for the future and I’m sure that novel will get written sooner than you think.

  11. That’s impressive, Carol! One of my editing clients sells his books very successfully by sitting outside a cafe and engaging passers-by in random conversation. “That’s a nice shirt you’re wearing sir, there’s a character in my book that has a shirt like that…” Waves book at passer-by who is intrigued, joins in the conversation, and eventually walks away with a copy for himself and another for his brother’s birthday gift. I envy anyone who has enough social courage to do that!

    1. Hi Bev. What a fantastic “chat-up” line that is. I shall have to compile a book of lines that writers can use to engage strangers in conversation and sell books. 🙂 You are right in that it requires social courage but that can come with practice.

    1. I’ll have to hold classes for writers and show them how to be confident. Looking like a bit like a clown tends to have its advantages. I wasn’t always so brash. I think I have become more confident as I have got older, so hang on in there. x

  12. My wife saw a fellow in the subway selling printed booklets of his individual short stories for a buck (same as Amazon, only he kept it all) He sold three in the two minutes she watched. Another fellow set up a table in Bryant Park and sold books.
    Passing out cards with ebook links is a good idea, hopefully cost effective.
    For those (such as myself) plagued by introversion, I think the idea of going in twos and threes to do all of the above is excellent.

    1. Hi Timothy. Wow. They did very well. If I had subways near me, you can be assured that I would be in them lurking about with my books.
      I agree with the idea of handing out cards with ebook links. I did that before I made business cards. (I shall be writing about business cards in the future.)
      By the way, I am an introvert hiding out behind an extrovert’s mask!

  13. LOL, yes, my hubby would be giving the grumpy mood too! And I’ve done the SW coupons when I was doing book signings at a winery.

  14. It’s important to always have books and cards with you and not regret missing opportunities along the way. I’ve even sold a book to someone after leaving it on an empty seat beside me—she looked at it (yes, eye-catching book covers are VERY important) and purchased immediately. Visibility is everything, and signed copies appeal to many. Thanks for your informative post.

    1. Hello Ester. I wholeheartedly agree about eye-catching covers. My next one is luminous yellow…you really can’t miss it. Thank you for adding to my advice. Signed copies are a very good idea too. (I shall be stealing your seat idea.)

  15. ‘Wow Carole!’ You certainly have that go get-em attitude; I admire your pluck. I was a quite introverted child, who used to hide in the stories I made up about the brave knight who saved the damsels in distress et cetera. I became a brave knight (sort of) who used to protect the vulnerable (the ones who could afford me anyway), but I was the softly spoken one with the big stick. I became the laconic teacher/instructor, before eventually settling to be the writer I always wanted to be. Although far from being the introvert I began as, and able to tell stories and give talks on various subjects, I am not comfortable with the cold sell; I have tried but it quite literally freaks me out. If there was a way to learn, a method, a course on, how to turn that around I think I’d give it a shot.

    I envy your impudence, Carole, great post.

    1. I’m just annoying! This tactic is not for everyone. Surprisingly, I wasn’t always as brash and bold. My husband is to thank(!) for making me more able to “approach” people. He taught me to be bolder and to bargain in shops when i wanted a price reduction and eventually to make sales. He is the Rottweiler of the sales world but won’t make book sales for me.
      Stay as you are. You are a lovely man and your books are superb. They will sell.

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