Kicking up Gemstones in Waynesville
Waynesville is a lovely town, mostly middle class, a paper mill town. This is a one-day event, 10-4. School just ended Friday, so today everyone will be at the pools, or working second shift. There’s no battle reenactment to draw the crowds. It’s rained every afternoon for three weeks. It’ll probably rain out the afternoon. But, it’s only an hour and half drive, no vendor fees, and they’re providing lunch. What have I got to lose? How many books will I take? Authors always obsess over that, don’t we?
When I took one Civil War book to reenactments I was happy to sell two books an hour. Then I added the second one and moved to four books an hour. Now I have a third. I’ve noticed that has actually cut into my sales. The first two are a series and usually purchased together. The third is separate and folks who chose that one, often buy just that one. So, maybe three an hour. Because of potential rain, I popped them out of their cartons and into plastic containers, leaving the bulk at home. I added a container of three each of all my other books, just in case someone wanted to see them. That should be more than enough averaging three an hour.
There is no rationale in marketing. There are so many unpredictable variables. Food vendors are a big draw. There were no food vendors. The vendors that sell kitsch where kids like to blow their wad, weren’t there. There was a poet who read her work on the porch. She and I sold books. All the things that seemed important at other events, were not factors. The crowd wasn’t huge, but full and steady. I sold 41 books in 6 hours. Another hour and I would’ve been out of books. My books went to Washington, Alaska, Illinois, Florida, and Minnesota and other places. One lady was from L.A. But she said they’ll have to ship her dog here because she’s never leaving. I met a 6th grade teacher from Tyler, TX, who will bring her friends to meet me at the East Texas Book Fair. The unexpected factor had to do with the marketing done by the event planner, nothing I did. She had this posted on every NC, travel, vacation, staycation, see-and-do website. There were very few locals at this local event. How did all these summer visitors to the Waynesville area hear about this? That was the key for the success of this event.
It takes a lot of planning and a lot of practice to get it right. Sometimes we don’t. I think the secret is not giving up when we don’t. Try it again. It might work next time with a variable. If it doesn’t, try something different. Sometimes it isn’t our fault. And sometimes the success is the result of another marketer’s gem mine. Don’t forget to say thank you. Gems are gifts.