Posted August 29, 2010on:
OK, so extraneous extras are not really part of a writer’s life, qua writer, but as a promoter and seller of his own works they do come in handy. I mention this not only because I recently saw an episode of Castle in which his latest book was not selling because he was not there to promote it, but also because I just spent quite a lot of money on rubber ducks.
Author Guy is not just me, you see, it’s a business. I became a bookseller out of necessity, and a toyseller out of opportunity. One of the people I sat next to at some event I did early on suggested to me that I should have a second line of merchandise, in case the books don’t turn out to be popular. Which can happen, strange as it is to contemplate the notion. Back then I was also carrying just my own titles, and not everyone reads fantasy.
Anyway, I started carrying a wide range of toys, not all of which were very big sellers. But the rubber ducks are very popular. A while back we did an event where I sold 218 ducks in 3 hours, without selling a single book. I finally said, “Look, if you buy the book I’ll give you the damn duck.” We sold 15 books after that.
Strangely, it took us another half-year to try that out as a policy. We did another big event and started using my ducks as a promo item. You’d be amazed at how many people will buy a book just to get the duck. And they’ll spend more time selecting the duck than they will selecting the book. Which is understandable, we have only a few books in any given genre but close to 200 different types of duck. You see, they’re not just ducks. They’re angel ducks, rock star ducks, hockey playing ducks, ninja ducks. Different types with different costumes and accouterments. It’s a dizzying array. Even when we sell them (‘A buck a duck!’) most people will at least look for a book so they can get it free, rather than pay just the dollar.
Then we did a book festival, and we would not let people buy the ducks at all. It was a book festival, not a duck festival. We had young unmarried men buying books for small children (our cheapest item) just so they could get the duck. Since then it’s been our regular thing. I’ve done some events with other authors but they don’t try the duck ploy much. One lady started using little fairy teddy bears, and we just discovered fairy ducks (and we told her about them too) as promos for her fairy books. One woman got the princess ducks for her fantasy novel but I don’t know if she ever went whole hog with it.
Or could it just be me?
Have you considered little extras to go with your books, and if so what kind?