Book Signings: More Than Sales

Recently I was invited to be a last-minute vendor at the grand opening event at North Star Orchard. My second and third books had just arrived. My Saturday was free, so I quickly said yes.

I knew I would not sit behind my table and wait to sign books that people wanted to purchase. I wanted to excite those who came by my table about science-or at least teach them something new.
My goal was to engage children and adults. How would I do this? I needed activities and props!

The event was only two days away, so I'm grateful I already had a plan to engage visitors. I only had to purchase a few items to complete my "box of tricks."

For Insects as Producers, I had lots of products (many food items) from my Insects Make WHAT?! program to include as props. I placed the items in buckets. I did leave the honeycomb beeswax at home since it was a warm day. (Wax melts quickly on summer days.) The gumballs were a big hit, too. (I borrowed my son's dollar store gum ball machine for that.)

I had real flowers on hand for examination, as well as a pollination activity, to relate to Flowers. 

Two containers of soil were also included on the table for comparison. Add a magnifying glass and a canister of wipes (because children can't help but touch soil), and the activities were set!

Yes, I sold a nice number of books that day, but more than that, I talked to lots of people-all generations-about science. Some conversations lasted only a minute, but a couple of families stayed for about ten minutes. It was all rewarding. I suspect most of the people who bought books didn't intend to buy one when they saw them on the table. It wasn't until after they spent time with me that they bought them. I also learned that a local city had a silk factory from an older gentleman who stopped by. That conversation was a highlight of my day.

I know some of the books sales that day were because of the way I engaged those who visited my table. Sometimes the best salesmen hook a customer with an experience instead of the product.

If you're an author, can you find ways to engage with your audience without mentioning (or barely mentioning) the book for sale? A couple of bonuses for you if you do: 1) It's rewarding. 2) Folks will remember you. 3) People take a business cards and/or brochures because they like YOU without even reading your book so they can recommend your programs to others. 4) You will get more sales!

Yes, your goal is to sell books, but by engaging with your audience-the potential customers-you will get more sales in the long run. Let it be YOU the audience remembers instead of just a single book. 

How do I know? In addition to the large number of people who told me they planned to tell others about my programs with the brochures and cards, the orchard contacted me after meeting me as a vendor at a local event. Perfect!