I am the Hand-Sale Assassin, and these are my stories …
These last few weeks were all for the backers of my latest novel Native Silver— with release parties in Minneapolis and Chicago. It was also the first test for my publishing model. I know I can sell paperbacks to New Yorkers during rush hour in Times Square, but can a self-pub turn $8,500 into $25,000 in three months selling hardcover books to strangers?
Answer so far— maybe.
Minicon (Bloomington, MN) over Easter weekend proved, again, to be a premiere destination for an author in search of an audience. I arrived on Wednesday and began selling books straight through to Sunday afternoon. I suffered a scheduling setback with programming, but the con worked hard to correct the issues.
Pro tip: Con Ops and Programming Ops at volunteer run cons are not your servants. Do everything you can to make their job easy and fun. Suggest panel ideas. Do not send emails with complicated questions— do not bother them at all. Be prepared for things to not going exactly to plan, and adapt.
So I missed my reading because I did not know it was scheduled. No worries. Reschedule, put up signs— host the reading at a room party. If you’re not having fun, no one else will either.
My Kickstarter backers came to Minicon in force, and they proved themselves a superior party crew, armed with tee-shirts and craft beer. We won both the 4am and 7am headcounts on Friday, packed the room for an evening reading, and did an encore reading of the naughty bits from Native Silver for the late night crowd. (If you have not checked out Minicon, you are missing out.)
The best hand-sale location at con proved to be on the cabana steps, drawing folks in for tasty beer– followed by the handshake and the pitch. To my surprise, the poorest location was the art room. Call it a lesson learned. The illustrations included in Book One and Book Two of my series are beautiful as 2 by 4 pieces on a printed page. Blown up and set side by side with full color originals, they are not. No more art shows for me.
Minicon Stats: 120 copies brought, 76 sold
Alumni outings are interesting. Especially the ones where the goal is fundraising. Selling to the fundraisers counts as fine sport. My alma mater hosted such an event at the Metropolitan Club in the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and I could not resist the challenge. Lesson learned here too. Don’t forget your Square, and in fact, get several of them. Make a keychain from a Square. No Square, no swipey-swipey. I didn’t have mine and missed three sales.
Outing Stats: 8 copies brought, 3 sold
My third lesson (learned at the start of this adventure): Check the calendar early and often. I managed somehow to schedule the Chicago release party the same weekend as C2E2. This was not an entirely bad thing, however, because if the no-shows had all appeared, the place would have been crammed. Everyone who came left with a copy, and that was fine by me.
Chicago Release Party Stats: 42 copies
And finally, there were the mailings to the last of the backers and the folks who had purchased a copy via the website (www.rookcreekbooks.com). I will sum up the experience this way. Making a USPS delivery look good is as easy as Bulkwrap C2+, 2×4 labels, and preprinted postage.
Mailings for the first two weeks: 47 copies shipped domestically, 4 internationally
So far so good, IMJ readers.
172 copies down, 548 to go