So let’s pretend you’ve written a book and had it published, and a bad man in a mask holds a gun on you and forces you to go to a book-selling event and take your books out of the box, but you don’t want to sell any books. Here’s how to almost guarantee you won’t sell any:
- Put one copy of your book flat on the table. Do NOT put your book on a book stand or a rack or (assuming you fooled the bad man and didn’t bring your display materials) don’t prop one copy up against a stack of other copies. If people can’t see the cover, they won’t be tempted over to your table.
- Remain seated at all times. Do NOT stand up when you see people approach.
- Do NOT make eye contact. Do NOT smile.
- Never engage or attempt to engage people in conversation, not about your book, not about them.
- Never ask people what they like to read. If they reply that they like to read something you don’t write but somebody else in the room does, don’t point them to your fellow vendor. That might make the other vendor likely to point other people to YOU, and it might make your non-customer think I don’t like this stuff, but I know somebody who does, and this writer is so darned nice, I think I’ll buy this for my friend.
- Don’t bring and display bookmarks or business cards so people who don’t want to buy at the event can find your stuff later.
- Don’t bring a tablecloth with you; make your table as dull and unattractive as possible.
- Never bring a partner so there’s always somebody at the table. People can’t buy books if there’s nobody there to buy them from.
- Give no thought to what your book is about. Don’t come up with a one- or two-sentence tagline, a ten-second elevator pitch, or a slightly longer synopsis. If somebody asks you what you write, you want to say something like, “Oh, you know. Stuff.” Don’t be tempted to ask somebody who has read and loved your book to help you with these pitches.
- Complain out loud about all the drawbacks of the venue, the organizer, and the attendees. Continue to complain after the event is over, but offer no feedback to the organizer privately or in the appropriate forum. That way, you won’t be invited back to that venue, even if you bring your bad man with a gun with you.
Well, there’s a start on what NOT to do if you want to sell books. Like, don’t do this:
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A bad man with a gun comes to force your character to do something against their will.