by Catharine C. Brooks
After the initial selling of “Didn’t Know We Were Poor,” my second book, during Mathews Market days, I did the usual bookings for signings in a store in the town of Mathews and the bookstore in our adjoining county of Gloucester. Since I live in a semi-rural county, conditions are naturally different from one’s city. Though I was surprised the enthusiasm the newer young married couples showed in my books about life in Mathews County, Virginia. However, I don’t just book signings but also make “Meet the Author” 8 ½” by 11” posters with a picture of the book cover in center below the title, date and time below the picture and last the place.
After signings in the stores selling my books are completed or booked for a convenient date, I begin going to the local restaurants for lunch. I lay two books where everyone passing me has to see them. I always make sales of one to six books. Before I leave, I contact the owner or manager to see if he/she is interested in stocking the book or wants a copy to carry home. I have one restaurant in the town Mathews that stocks my books and does well with them.
In the outlying areas, I contact the postmasters to see if they’d like me to sign books once in a corner of the lobby of their post office for a free book. Then get press releases out in time that the public knows about it and my posters in the window. One postmaster does this event the last of November or the first part of December and invites the nursery nearby to display the various colors in poinsettias they have for sale, sisters who make glycerin based natural-scented soaps to display them and leave orders on a pad for one to write item, address and phone number and a few other people who do cottage work from their homes. I have been surprised at how far people will drive to buy this way rather than the usual bookstore.
I’ve only had one church group to sell my book to raise money for a special project. They purchase the books from me with a 20% discount with the understanding I’ll refund money for any unsold books in salable condition. However, a man from another county told me he sold most of his books through church fundraisers in different denominations in another part of Virginia.
All writers should join a local writer’s group if there is one and attend Open Mike sessions. I was sponsored by an acquaintance I hardly knew. However, I’ve found intermingling with others who write has enhanced my writing and given me opportunities to sell my books in regular meetings and at one or more Expo each fall. I have a page with bio and synopsis of my books on Chesapeake Bay Writers web site from which, I’ve received orders for books.