Friday, July 28, 2006

Tour Day 26 and 27

Miles driven so far: 5313
Bookstores visited so far: 235
Books signed so far: 2156
Books hand sold so far: 153
Bookstores remaining: 265
Drink coasters signed: 3400
Bookstore employees I've met: 442

Take a look at that last statistic. As I near the halfway point on this tour, I've met 442 booksellers. These are 442 people who have heard my pitch, seen my face, looked at my books, and shaken my hand. Many of them have also received a free copy of RUSTY NAIL.

I'm carrying around a journal which has all 442 names in it, and I've informed each of these booksellers that they will have their name listed in the acknowledgements of DIRTY MARTINI, coming out next year.

What's the value of this? Can you even put a value on it?

By the end of this tour, I'll have met roughly 1000 booksellers. Let's say that half of those booksellers quit, or get fired, or get jobs elsewhere. Of the 500 that are left, lets say half of those forgot about me ten seconds after I left. Of the 250 that are left, let's say that 4/5 of them didn't like me, or don't like mysteries, or don't like their jobs, or simply don't care.

That leaves 50 booksellers who really like me and my books and who are excited to handsell them.

A motivated bookseller can sell dozens, if not hundreds, of books. They'll put my books on end caps and in displays, on front tables even though there is no coop, and face out instead of spine out in the sections. They'll special order them, shortlist them, and jobber them in, even if their computer tells them they should only stock four. They'll recommend the books to customers, who will then become fans. Some of them will even stay in touch with me and become friends.

There are already a handful of booksellers who have each sold over a hundred copies of my books. If I can add 50 more to their ranks, that's an extra 5000 books sold a year. But it goes beyond that. If a stores sells a lot of copies, more copies are shipped to other stores in that area, anticipating the demand. More copies in a store means more shelf space, more face-outs, and more sales.

And 50 is actually a very low estimate. I've already met over 150 booksellers so far who were really excited to meet me and get a free book. I believe many of these folks will continue to sell my series, even if we never meet again.

Has this tour been effective? Hell yes. In fact, I think this tour is the smartest thing I've ever done for my career. I'm recruiting a nation-wide sales force. Normal book tours can't do that. Neither can advertising, marketing, or publicity. I truly believe that this is the future of book tours, whether you like it or not.

In other news, I'm currently in Boston, and had drinks last night with fellow writers Jeremiah Healy and Adam Hurtubise. Adam then took me to an amazing steakhouse and treated me to filet oscar and Bookers on the rocks. After a month of eating day-old muffins, I thought I'd died and gone to food heaven. Thanks, Adam! I'm naming a child after you.

Adam and I talked late into the night about this business. He's a savvy guy, and if you don't already read his blog, you should.

More stores in Boston and Rhode Island today and tomorrow, and eventually I'll get up north and then west to Albany. Then begins my trek down the East Coast, ending up in Florida by mid August.

If all goes well, I'll hit store 250 tonight, ahead of schedule.

14 comments:

Adam Hurtubise said...

Roll, on, Joe. Great seeing you last evening... That was a scream.

Adam

Steve G said...

Joe, I hope you're calling you wife and keeping in touch with the family. Emails don't count.

anne frasier said...

joe, you are amazing! i would have been a zombie by day 3. dead by day 10.
i think some of my savannah buddies will be stopping to see you when you're down there.

Adam Hurtubise said...

Steve G--

I can verify that Joe is talking to his wife. In fact, I talked to her, too.

Adam

emeraldcite said...

Your publisher must love you. You're a publicist's dream.

And you have the personality to pull it off.

Eileen said...

I stand in awe

Mike MacLean said...

For those who aren’t natural salesmen, can you give us an idea of your pitch? How do you walk into a bookstore cold and strut out with new bookseller buddies? Do you ask for a manager? Do you email ahead so they’re expecting you?

I know these seem like obvious questions, but for us quiet ones, pitching a book sounds like a daunting task.

Good luck with everything and hang in there.

Silvia Foti said...

Joe,

You are an amazing marketing machine, toppling all promotional standards with your road tour. To use one of JK Rawling's favorite words, I am thunderstruck.. And knowing you, you probably will be the Harry Potter of mysteries, outselling everyone with your marketing wizardry! God bless you and yours, Joe!

Silvia Foti :-)

Christine said...

Sheesh!
Well, if you're coming back through New Jersey, be sure to stop in the little town next to me. It's a little independent called Sherlock's Tomes (just google, you'll find it), in the tiny, quaint town of Pitman. Call 'em and see if they have your books.

If you say you're stopping by and when, I'll be sure to meet up with you!

Scarlett said...

Hey, glad I found your blog, I guess I am one those writers that has never seriously pursued being published but your success has encouraged me. I can't wait to read some of your books, they sound great!

jamie ford said...

Way to go Adam. Oh yeah, you too Joe!

bud gott said...

Glad to read that the tour is going so well for you.

After months of visiting this blog, I've finally started reading one of your books. I started on WHISKEY SOUR on Friday and I'm hooked. Great book!

JA Konrath said...

Thanks to everyone for their kind words.

Mike--I did a blog entry a few weeks ago called "Booksignings--Everything you Need to Know" which explains how I do drop-ins.

I don't email ahead. Sometimes I call ahead, but not often.

Sherlock said...

Thank you for visiting our shop in Pitman, NJ - we have a second store opening in Bridgeton, NJ in early October.. Not an easy accomplishment in this day of Big Box and Walmart!!!!
We welcome you anytime !!! Booksigning, book discussion --- Our shops are your shops...Same goes for all the Writers looking for a place to call HOME!!!!!
Sherlock's Tomes
On Broadway, Pitman, NJ
"Reading. Why it's elementary my dear.."