Sunday, September 21, 2014

If You Have It, Do They Come?

by Velda Brotherton

For the past few weeks a group of writers have been touring libraries together in the hopes that folks who like to read books would just naturally gravitate to the tables where we have some of our latest books. The appearances have been promoted by us online and by the libraries as well. So far, we’ve had next to no response from readers.

 One suggestion was that if they can check out the books for nothing, why would they buy one from the author? That should hold true across the board then, so why even bother to write if the only sales are to libraries? But they aren’t. Books sell to readers and e-books sell very well.

 Another theory is that readers don’t understand author appearances, signings, speaking engagements. Before I became a writer I never heard of meeting an author at a signing or speaking somewhere. Perhaps we need to educate our readers about meeting us. I enjoy meeting my readers and talking to them. It’s fun, but it seems so difficult to get them out to attend our appearances.

 I know writers aren’t the only people who read. If anything, writers have less time to read than those who don’t write because in our spare time we are so engrossed in our writing, editing, re-reading and writing some more that when we have down time we might not pick up a book. But I decided it was a good question to personally consider.

 Why buy books if we can check them out free? My reason is simple. I don’t like to have a deadline on reading a book. I want to take my time. If I checked out four books and have a two or three week limit before I have to return them, I wouldn’t be able to take my time and enjoy reading them. So, I buy books for Kindle or in print when I want to read one. I may have to wait for a while till the price comes down, cause let’s face it, we can’t always afford every book we want to read.
Personally, I like having books in Kindle. There they are, waiting for as long as it takes. I can put that Kindle Fire in my purse, read while waiting at the doctor’s office or anyplace else. I have a habit of arriving early at every function I attend. Can’t stand to be late, so the Kindle is right there to fill the time, day or night, till the doors open and I can go in. One thing I’m careful of, though, is not to load up on free books without reading the first few pages. Nothing is harder for a writer than to try to read a badly written book, so I’m very careful and read that sample closely.
How about you? As writers how do you get to reading your favorite authors/books?  And how successful have you been in appearances for book signings, events or the like? Have you tried something special prior to or during a signing or appearance that increased visitors and sales?


Carolyn Niethammer said...

Velda, like you I have been doing this for a very long time and have had a number of signings where no signing has taken place. The one thing that has seemed to work consistently is panels of several authors. Present a program. The three panels I have done (2 for one book, 1 for the latest) have been well attended.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I have two friends that are also fellow children's book authors. We have had one collaborative event and will have one again this weekend. I have found not to measure success in the number of people who attend or the number of books sold. Eventually, people hear about me through the publicity. Having three authors hosting an event helps to spread the work around and means more people attend our events. The bookstores and shops seem to like that too. Beryl

Velda Brotherton said...

I agree with both Carolyn and Beryl. At least with a panel of writers, which we've been doing, we have a lot more fun. And you're both right, the publicity is worth the effort.
Thanks to both of you for leaving a comment.