Saturday, September 12, 2009

The marvels of chitchat

I got a reminder today of how a little chitchat can go a long way when selling books. I was doing a signing at one of my favorite Barnes & Noble stores (the third time in the past six months). You know it's a favorite when the manager tells you on leaving, "Come back anytime you'd like."

This store has two entrances. My wife stands at one to hand out my little promo folder, while I take care of the other entrance from my table near the door. Giving my usual spiel, I asked this woman if she read mysteries. She said she wasn't a mystery reader but stopped at my table to chat after learning I was a local author. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned going to school in Donelson, a Nashville suburb across the county from my home.

I knew Chester LaFever, a high school classmate of mine back in the early forties, had one been on the Donelson High School faculty. When I asked about him, she smiled and replied that he was assistant principal when she was there. She wound up taking one of my folders with her to the cafe. A little while later, she came back with the comment, "They really sound interesting." She bought both books I had on the table.

Only a couple of people came by who had heard of me. One had bought an earlier book and promply picked up the latest. But chatting with others netted four people who bought both books.

A man with a small girl was about to pass me by when I stopped him with my usual question. He said he didn't read mysteries, but his wife did. He asked which of the books would be better for a woman. I told him the Greg McKenzie book dealt with a man and his wife who were private investigators. He looked at his daughter and said, "I'll bet she'd like that one." I signed it to her, and he went off smiling with the comment, "Our anniversary is coming up."

Traffic was slow at times, but it was a pretty good day. We sold all the copies of The Surest Poison and more than half of The Marathon Murders, a total of 20 books. Bottom line--chitcht sells.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

That is the secret - engage your potential reader! I'm a roamer and will strike up a conversation with anyone who crosses my path. And that is the best way to sell books!

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Chester Campbell said...

You're right, Diane. That's the key.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Congratulations on your very successful signing - keep up the chitchat!