Whenever I eat out, I bring two copies of Yalu and the Puppy Room with me and set them on the table for people to see—restaurants work best because there would be questions if I walked through most retail stores with a book in hand. A friend and I recently ate a buffet on the Las Vegas Strip. We ended up at a heavily traveled part of the dining room.
Having the book displayed makes for a good conversation starter and when a bus lady named Minty saw one of the books, she stopped, sat down and stayed for a bit. I let her flip through the pages and explained the pictures Tielman created and how I meet Yalu.
I didn’t get a sale from her, most likely because she was in the middle of her shift and the world around her retired attention—with plates, glasses, and silverware to pick up from people already eating and heading back for more food and the need to prep empty tables for the next set of guest being her main priority, I figured a sale wasn’t going to happen here.
I did give her a bookmark and we had a nice conversation about our pets—she has five Norwegian cats and carried their pictures in a Hello Kitty wallet.
When you’re self-published, the lesson is always have a book handy. When I’ve gone into a car dealership to have an extra key for my car made, I made a sale from a fellow next to me. I’ve made a sale at a Jiffy Lube while getting the oil changed. Does carrying a book with you always work? No, but why lose out on a sale?
Thirteen books, a baker’s dozen, was the total from Reedom Elementary.
The event is complete and the word about Yalu and the Puppy Room has spread a little further and despite this low total, I still had fun trying to turn this hobby of mine into a job.
I’m still convinced that the marketing method of coming to the school, read, answering student questions, giving out bookmarks and flyers, and coming back a week later to drop off books works best at local schools. The other option would be sending the flyer home a week before the showing up.
Not all school events yield high sales. You can do everything right and still not get what you expect. Wait a second. That sounds like something Yalu did at the start of the book so life does imitate art and vise versa.
That was the total number of sales I made at Reedom Elementary School. That number includes the two sales I made last at the school last week.
The naïve idealist in me expected a sale from every student that heard my sterling presentation. The realist in me knew I wouldn’t have close to two hundred in sales and expected thirty sales.
I’m happy for any sale I made. Now I’m relying on my sneaking marketing trick of students seeing their classmates receiving my book in their homerooms and running back to their parents and wanting a copy. As Scarlett O’Hara once said, “Tomorrow is another day.” Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
The plan is really very simple. Tomorrow is the day parents have funds sent to their children’s home room for their copies of Yalu and The Puppy Room. I’m bringing Post It notes with me so when I sign a personalized copy of the book, I put the student’s name on the Post It note and the Post It Note is stuck on the cover.
Here is where some marketing kicks in. I visit the school, sign the books, and when those books head off to the home rooms and get passed out, other students will see this, remember that they have got to have a copy of the book, and run home to the parents and tomorrow, I have go back to Reedom Elementary School again and drop off more signed copies. This is a good problem to have and works great when the audience is local.
Is what I’m doing sneaky?
The neat part was that sending the flyers home with the kids and coming back a few days later worked very well at Louis Weiner Elementary and resulted in twelve more sales—that is the beauty of having a captive audience in a library listening to an author read.
It’s interesting how something like Tielman’s pencil sketches look good when viewed on a computer screen, but when seen from a computer projector on a wall, they’re not so good. In fact, they’re pretty tough to see. Too many pencil lines just didn’t show up making the sketches weren’t recognizable from the computer projector. That was the only problem presentation wise.
I had another group of students and one of the special needs child having bad hair day when he couldn’t get his way. Other than that, I wrapped up the reading portion of my visit to Reedom Elementary.
Once again, my captive audience, and I’ve decided a captive audience is the best kind of audience for a writer, were first and second graders. The kids figured out when it was time to turn the page when I did my Hulk Hogan impersonation by holding out a cupped hand to my ear and leaning toward them. That got the “Ding” response and some much needed audience participation because even some kids with their heads down perked up.
After three days at Reedom Elementary, I handed out two hundred flyers and next week, there will be responses for books. There’s a December 11th request to have money in the student’s home room for Yalu and the Puppy Room in form of cash or check and I’m hoping a student who didn’t buy my book will see another student with an autographed copy and will head on home and badger the parents. It helps that it’s the Christmas season and to cover my bases, Christmas season too—and to cover my bases, Yalu and the Puppy Room makes for a great what a great gift Chanukah and Quanza and for atheists, it’s a wonderful book on self-reliance and determination. I will now pause while blog readers roll their eyes and ponder what sell out I am to commercialism, but selling books is my greater goal.
The flyers and bookmarks show the students/parents how to find my website at www.yaluthepuppydog.com so my potential buyers can see the story for themselves and read it on their own over the internet or listen to me read it.
So far, I have two sales from my time at Reedom Elementary and I hope to have the problem of having to go back to the school after dropping off books on December 11th –that’s a good problem to have.
The best type of advice is not only free, but useful. Mrs. Taylor, the librarian at Reedom Elementary offered some pointers concerning my presentation. First off, she mentioned that most students know who J.K. Rollins is and if they don’t, will when I mention Harry Potter when I discuss the writing industry. J.K. Rollins does get mentioned when I go through a literary agent’s day and that person has a choice between my six page story which might go into the maybe pile or J.K. Rollin’s next book. When I ask students which book would they choose when they’re the agent, most say mine, but for now the answer is J.K. Rollins. Why? She can write something average, perhaps even bad, and sell 100,000 copies because she has almighty platform established.
Mrs. Taylor’s main point was that when I mention other authors like John Grisham, the name doesn’t ring a bell with student, but Dr. Seuss does as will other children’s book authors. The point is that the examples I site in the writing world mean more to kids if they know the authors.
The next bit of advice concerned ways to tie writing and revision into the student’s lives. I do mention how many times I revised Yalu and the Puppy Room, the number currently stands at thirty-five. She suggested that I develop a methodology to get students interested in writing. That would be tough to handle in a one day visit with reading my book and creating that almighty need to buy my book as my emphasis. I will try and think of something. What? I don’t know, but something will come to me and it will most likely be while I’m at work, driving, or having a dream and there’s no paper or working pen.
A third observation would be showing students the need to choose from one artist over another. I did find another’s artist’s rendering of Yalu and have added it to the slideshow presentation that has Tielman’s final pictures from the book. I have also found some of Tielman’s pencil sketches that I have added to the slideshow so I can give a good before and after view of Tielman’s creative process.
I had my first of three visits to Reedom Elementary School in the southwest corner of Las Vegas. Mrs. Taylor, the librarian, set me up for a first grade and second class in the corner of her library and there were good times had by all. I read while a student worked the computer connected to a projector and moved the pictures along whenever I said the word “ding”.
The students eventually caught on to when I expected a new picture and about half way through the book, I would cup a hand to my ear and lean forward to them saying “ding” in unison.
When the story concluded, I would ask them if they liked Tielman’s illustrations and to a person they did and went into detail about what a great artist he was/is and how I can’t even draw stick people. That brought us into questions about what it’s like to be published and the publishing industry.
The big goals were giving them the bookmarks and flyers and letting them know they could purchase the book. I’ve got two more days at the school where I’ll follow the same format and expect similar good times had by all.