The Sample Box
Since 2010, when I began marketing my books, I've learned how important those salesman's samples are. There are always samples on the display table of whatever I'm selling at the moment, but one never knows the opportunities beyond that moment. I always carry business cards, publisher's catalog and a protective plastic tote with every title in every format, just-in-case.
A few years ago I stopped at a diner in rural Georgia for lunch and discovered they had a children's reading corner for their little diners. I brought in my sample box and he bought every picture book I had.
When I drive through a small town and spot a bookstore, I go in, introduce myself with a card and ask if they'd like to see what I have. They are usually pleased that I've stopped, sometimes buy some books, but promise to look for the titles with their distributor. I give them a publisher's catalog and they are overjoyed. Small indie booksellers don't get a lot of attention.
Last week in Ponte Vedra, FL, my hostess drove us to do some shopping. She was surprised to see a brand new store called 2nd & Charlie's. At first we couldn't tell what kind of store it was -- games, puzzles,electronics --books! Old and new in all genres, it was a bookstore! My sample box and cards were in my own car back at her home. But, we went in and met the manager. He laughed at my predicament and was delighted I came in. We exchanged information and he planned to go on line and see what my publisher had and check my site for other titles.
At the event on Saturday in Olustee, FL, I slipped my sample box under the display table, just in case. Early in the day a woman popped up and said she wanted one of everything I had, which was 3 YA Civil War titles. She said it was for her school, so I gave her a different card that has the younger titles on it, and a catalog. "Do you have any here?" I started to say no, but then, "as a matter-of-fact, I do!" She emptied my sample box, bought all 16 titles.
I'm thinking of renaming my sample box to my "Just-in-Case" box. My tip for authors today is never leave home without it.