14 January 2012

Frolicking Through Omaha

Today was the big day. Titanic forces would crash together in a contest of wills for the right to move to ever greater heights!

I am of course talking about my day out and about Omaha marketing my book and not about all the NFL games on (Tim and Tom got nothing on me. . .in my little world).

It was a day of breaking out of my shell and putting myself out there to sell. Each store I visited was awash with new faces and the possibility of rejection. Fortunately there were no rejections (yet). I visited four great stores around the Omaha Metropolitan Area:
- Krypton Comics
- The Bookworm
- Legend Comics/Legend Coffee Shop
- The Game Shoppe

At each I approached the manager/owner of the establishment, introduced myself by making eye contact and shaking their hand and getting straight to the point about wanting them to carry my self-published book. It went something like this:

Me: Hi, my name's Chris Meyer.

Them: Hi Chris, I'm (Kevin, Beth, Jason, John - in that order. How's that for memory?). How can I help you today?

Me: I'm a self-published author and I wanted to see if you would interested in selling my book. Let me tell you a bit about it. . .

At this point I would give them a free copy of my book for the management/workers at the store to read and see for themselves the amazing epic I have woven with words! In one case I provided the book to a manager who would read it, and pass it along to the owner, and then the owner would take a gander at it and decide in a month or so. In another I gave it to one of the workers and they said they would pass it on to their boss. Twice I spoke with the actual owners. Of the four stores, one was willing to purchase copies of my book and stock them.

So what lessons are here?
1) Patience is key. These people are not there to pat you on the back and gush over your self-published novel. They're there to run a business. Their business. And you're effectively a salesman trying to get them to buy stuff while there are customers there willing to pay them for stuff. You, sir/madame/me, are quite low in their totem pole.

2) Be polite. Make eye contact. Shake hands. Introduce yourself. Ask their name. Remember their name. Don't beat around the bush, get straight to the point (that's professional courtesy).

3) Don't have unrealistic expectations. I'm ECSTATIC that Legend Comics/Legend Coffee Shop wants to carry a few copies of my book. But that's one out of four. 25% immediate success rate. The other stores want to actually read the book first before ordering copies, not to mention they have to go through the process of registering with CreateSpace Direct to get the store buyer discount. Not all stores are going to say, "Yes, we will stock your books immediately." In fact, I'm sure if I go out another day I'll have a store or two tell me, "No." Some of the stores I marketed to today might reply with no. So don't think everything will be rosy and perfect, and even expect some rejection.

4) Have your stuff together. Make sure, before you walk into the store to pitch the book, that you have everything you're going to give them. I had: a free copy of my book, a sell sheet, directions to register for CreateSpace Direct, and a business card. Before I hopped out of my car I made damn well sure I had each one.

5) Relax. Don't choke up, don't be tense. Walk in and talk to them like you're having a conversation. Joke. Laugh. Compliment them on their beautiful store, or, if you're a regular at that particular location, talk to the people you know. Things will go much smoother and you might connect with some pretty cool people. This connects with the next point. . .

6) Don't get bent out of shape. So the manager/owner wasn't there? GASP! HORROR! TRAVESTY! How dare they!? Don't they know that the book you self-published is the next BIBLE!? The best thing since the wheel and sliced bread?! More important than the second coming of Jesus!?
Cool your jets.
It's not a big deal. Just roll with it. Talk to the worker you're dealing with as if you were pitching to the actual owner. It will get that gal/guy interested in your book, and show them that you think they're important. And really they are. They're another reader. They're another voice talking about your book to other people. They're also the individual who will pass your book onto their boss/get pissed you treated them like crap and toss it in the garbage.
Jus' sayin'.

So now you're asking: "What's next?"
Well, I shall tell you.

I'm going to get some copies of the book to Jason at Legend Comics/Legend Coffee Shop, and I'm going to wait for replies from Krypton ComicsThe Bookworm, and The Game Shoppe.
I will visit other stores and continue to market my book (Lincoln, Nebraska: here I come!).
I've sent my book into the Writer's Digest 20th Annual Self-Publishing Awards Competition for consideration.
I am going to submit my book to Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million per their content submission guidelines.
I will continue to update Facebook, Twitter, and the RENEGADE DATA CORE website.

And, most importantly: I'll keep writing. Because I just love to create (and would like to make money at it), and to share what I create with others (and we shall revel in our nerdish love of sci-fi/fantasy).

Now I know I said I was going to post pictures of my day. . .
I have no pictures.
So here's Ein:
Isn't he cute? :3

So, until next time. . .