On Sunday I had my first experience of selling my book ‘The Weave’ direct to the public who came to our village’s first Salon du Livre. Just to explain – this is an event where authors have a table, load it with books and potential readers/buyers come and browse. Such events are held all over France particularly during summer.
I had no expectations of mega sales or indeed of any sale. The book is published in English only (at the moment), the English-speaking community in our small village and environs is tiny and I am a totally unknown. However I thought the experience would be invaluable.
So, there I was. 8.15 on a wet morning armed with copies of the book and some props just to attract interest. I had thought that each author was to have an individual table so it was a surprise to find long rows of tables and chairs with each author’s space meticulously marked out.
Quick review of the ‘montage’ I had planned and most of my props, all of which play a part in the book, went back in the car.
Learning point 1 – find out in advance just how much space there will be for the display.
Around 9.30 the public started to drift in. At first it was more like a social gathering as neighbour chatted to neighbour yet eventually people began to browse what was on offer. Many of the authors offered books about local and regional events, places and people. These were clearly very popular and little groups clustered around their tables.
By 11.30 my own display was looking a bit lonely. Fellow author Robert Rigby with a selection of his books was the only other Brit novelist present and, bless him, he took pity on me and bought the first copy of ‘The Weave.’ I wish I could say that act of kindness opened the buying floodgates but no!
There was more interest in the spider artistically draped over some of the books than the book itself.
However things picked up and I had people stop to chat and look at the book. What was interesting for me though was that Robert apart, all these visitors were the female of the species. Many picked up a copy, leafed through it and asked me to translate the blurb and then, with a regretful gallic shrug and a ‘je lis pas en Anglais’ put the book back.
Learning point 2 – more like a question – why were the ladies present attracted to my table? Was it the cover of the book? Because the author was female? They felt sorry for me?
To follow up these thoughts I began to ask the question – what attracted you to the table? The majority of replies was ‘the cover’ thus reflecting the advice always doled out – the cover is the first selling point.
I made a handful of sales in the period just before lunch – all to Brit buyers bar two. thank you, thank you.
The afternoon was dead for me saleswise so I spent my time cruising the other tables and networking. I received an invite to an authors’ group in a neighbouring village and signed up for another salon in Quillan in August where I’m told there is an enthusiastic English-speaking book-buying community. We shall see.
I picked up a few tips about presentation and…
Learning point 3 – I must get some sort of ‘business’ card printed.
Some authors had give-aways like bookmarks and pens; some placed a purchase in dinky little carrier bags with the book cover printed on them. All good stuff to think about for the future and at least I can go to the other two salons that I’ve signed up for with a bit more confidence and understanding of how they work – valuable experience.