Would you buy a book from this guy?

Hey. Did you know that I now have two travel guides in print for the Mississippi Valley? (You can buy them here.) The second book (covering the Mississippi from Lansing to LeClaire) rolled off the printing press in late October. A couple of weeks ago, as part of my effort to kick up marketing efforts, I had my first book signing. Yea! The fine folks at the Davenport Barnes & Noble were nice enough to set me up at a table near the busiest entrance, so I could show off my travel guides and talk to folks as they entered the store. While some patrons ran in fear at the prospect of having someone try to sell them something, most people politely accepted a free book mark, then ran away from me. Here are a few observations from the day:

  • It’s tough to get people to stop and chat when you are sharing a table with another author whose marketing approach is as subtle as a plaid suit on a zebra.
  • In the Quad Cities Travel Guide, I wrote something about NorthPark Mall (where the Barnes & Noble store is located) feeling “creepy and neglected”, a comment that didn’t go unnoticed by the B&N staff, who wondered if I was feeling creepy and neglected during my visit, then joked “at least you know people are reading the book.”
  • I’m still searching for that signature tagline for book signings. “I hope you enjoy” is so lame.
  • The folks at Barnes & Noble were terrific, helpful, and professional and the store was very busy. Even though I prefer to work with independently-run businesses, I’m grateful that a chain like Barnes and Noble is so willing to work with little guys like me to help us promote our books. Without them, my job would be much harder.
  •  Having said, that, it is still hard work to sell books, at least if your name isn’t Stephen King. Aside from the bad Karma around the table, a lot of customers just don’t want to be bothered to talk to someone, even someone bound for fame and fortune like myself.
  • And yet, I’m eager for more.

On the way to the store, I stopped at Chocolate Manor in Bettendorf to buy some treats for the B&N staff. (I screwed up their name in the QC book; they haven’t been Country Manor Chocolates for over 3 years.) While there, I learned that Chocolate Manor has had a few referrals from folks who read about their store in my guide book. Cool. Chocolate Manor ended up buying a few copies of the QC guide for resale, so, I spent $12 on chocolates and made three times that in wholesale sales. If that ratio continues, I should be OK.

© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009