Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Talk - The Booksigning in the Digital Age

I may have mentioned here before that I am giving serious consideration to cutting back on my appearance schedules going forward. When I say this, it doesn't necessarily mean I'll stop going to conferences and cons altogether. If I am asked to sit on a panel I will definitely make the arrangements if I can. Already I've been asked to return to Colonial Kink as a speaker. Hopefully, too, our MarsCon crew will get back on track for 2012.

As for events where I only need to sit at a table and hawk books, though...I may not do more of those. My decision mainly has to do with personal issues - I have a little one at home who isn't so little anymore, and the space I have allotted for storing books and materials is coming at a premium now. It's time to clear away some things, and it's partly why I'll be doing some Goodreads and ARe Cafe giveaways soon. Also, I do recognize the bulk of my sales are digital, so I am compelled to nurture that end of the business.

Now, recently at Balticon, I shared booksigning space with Alessia Brio, who inspired me to look at booksigning in a new way. The first time I tried to sell eBooks off site, I had burned files onto CD-ROMs and created my own labels. This was way before the Kindle was a glint in Jeff Bezos' eye, too, so you can imagine the funny looks I'd get. Once I sold a disc to a reader, who went home and put it in her stereo. Then she emailed me to complain that she only heard Shania Twain songs, where was the book? I had to explain the book wasn't in audio format. How far we've come since.

My idea for future events involves doing two things. One: I am thinking of setting up a table to offer nothing but promotional items. I'll have the free pens and business cards/postcards, a sign with a large QR code for people to scan, and a few display only copies of the book. I find that I see minor bumps in sales long after an event, mainly because somebody took promo and made the effort to look me up (thanks, if you do that).

As for selling digital books, I've discovered there are ways to do that without lugging around CD-ROMs, which I doubt people use much anymore, or going broke on flash drives. With the Square App for iPad I can take credit card information so people can purchase books, and with the Dropbox App I can store files and e-mail them directly to the reader. If somebody happens by my table I will have a sign ready with QR codes for what books I am selling that day. A person can scan the code and go right to the point of sale.

The only drawback is autographing. I know somebody invented a way to sign eBooks, so I'm looking into it. Other idea are having ready-signed bookplates for eBook readers, or embedding a digital signature on the books before I format them. We'll see. I'm sure by next week I'll have to adjust my plan again thanks to new innovations.

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