Book Promo trick learned at festival and library

01 Oct
Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

It has been a hectic few days with my Beyond Books at two booths (not during the same hour) at Word on the Street last Sunday and Tuesday evening at the Runnymede Toronto Public Library Branch.

Very interesting – great to meet readers and other writers and chat. And I also learned and applied a new sales technique (new to me) that worked, so much so that I have to order more copies of my first published Beyond book – Beyond the Tripping Point from my publisher and he in turn has to order more from the distributor. This book was published three years ago. And we’re talking print copies, not e-copies. So there is still steam in the “old” book and the “old” book copy option.

So what happened?

I’ve been attending the Word on the Street Festival, Toronto version almost every year since it began, often selling books or passing out info about writers’ organizations or both. This year it changed venue for the third time.This year it was at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre beside Lake Ontario. It was a hot summer day (yes, I know it is fall), sunny and very pleasant. So were most of the people there and the venue setup – closer together and also specific areas to sit and rest your feet and your a.. well you know what.

At WOTS I had an hour each at two booths selling Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point as well as handing out business cards and flyers for two more of the venues I would be at this fall, and chatting about my books with people who pass by. Very important. You don’t just sit there and smile because not everyone is going to stop unless you approach them. “Do you read mystery novels?” became my ice-breaker and if the answer was “yes” (about two-thirds to three-quarters of the time), I was off talking about my Beyond books and holding up copies as I talked. I was at the Crime Writers of Canada booth first and then Toronto Sisters in Crime. Despite the crowded quarters of the latter (in a booth at extended tables with other writing organizations). Space was so limited the poets reading had to stand on a table at their end. That was also where anyone going to sit behind any of the tables had to enter the area. Sisters in Crime had their booth at the other end. So if I didn’t want to hop the table to get out and chat, I had to maneuver over to the other end, avoid the poet on the table, slither out and walk to the end where I stood and chatted.

I was selling both books as two for one price (and made sure I had the individual prices listed on my price sheet to show the difference). That worked for sales, including to a lady who said she had to run into the building behind to the ATM and would I be there? Of course, I would.

During all this I was trying to find and keep track of two old friends (who didn’t know each other at that point). One found me over at the Crime Writers booth but the other didn’t find me until the end of my stint at Sisters in Crime. But both kept busy going to booths, chatting and collecting info. The latter friend got steered to me by another mystery writer the friend had seen and heard at a previous Crime Writers of Canada library reading.

Which brings me to Runnymede library branch and Tuesday night. Despite rain, we got a good number of readers who filled the library program room. And it was one of the better author presentations by some of us from Crime Writers of Canada – Rob Brunet, Karen Blake-Hall, Madeleine Harris Callway and me. We talked about our books, often putting in humour, telling stories of how we got our stories settings, how we got our stories, did a little reading from our books and then opened it to questions.

It was really like chatting with old and new friends.

And yes, I sold more books – the package deal again and was really rewarded more by one author purchasing when she said “I really like your writing.” Mind you she has attended some of my writing workshops at library branches and I probably read something I had written there.

So, what’s the morale here to promote books? Get involved with your audience, entertain, and offer good deals with your books.


Sharon A. Crawford

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website


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