Thoughts on Selling Print Books

Last weekend, we went out and sold things at the BGC Art Mart! It was 22 Luna's first bazaar event, and I sold a few books there.

Just to compile my thoughts/insights on book selling, I'm bullet-pointing them here:

  • Everything I learned in business school suddenly rushed back here. Marketing, Sales, Operations, GAH.
  • My sisters did this brilliant thing where they said 'Hi!' to everyone who approached their table. No sales pitch, no product description (yet). I noticed when they did this, they were able to engage people in conversation and see what they really liked. It sounds like a normal thing, but not all the tables were doing this.
  • I generally have bigger print book sales that ebook sales. Not just in amount, obviously, but in sheer number. The interest is definitely there, it's just a little hard to get it out.
  • Get ready to say goodbye to your browsing copies. People will bend that thing into submission just to check it out.
  • Everyone seemed genuinely surprised when I said that (1) I, the author, was the one selling the books that I published myself, that (2) I'm Filipino and that (3) I'm not a Lit Major. Only goes to show that there are still a lot of people who don't know about us!
  • People did this really cute thing where they saw my books and say to their friends, 'uy oh, Marry Me!' or just kind of mutter the title under their breath. This happened specifically for Marry Me, Charlotte B! and not Cities, but it was the book that sold more. So good titles and good covers definitely matter!
  • Questions I was asked, "M'am kayo talaga nagsulat nito?" "Coloring book ba ito?" "Can I get this in bookstores?" "Ay, novel to??" "Dalawa palang books mo?"
  • A lot of Moms spoke to me about how their daughters/kids were aspiring writers too, and maybe I would want to talk to them about self-publishing, just to motivate them to keep writing? Ninangs also, who give books to their inaanaks. :P
  • I wrote a little 'intro' on the books written as 'If you like....read me!' (inspired by the Speed reading!) This brought a lot of people, but I still have a lot of stocks left. I think they weren't expecting to find someone selling books at an ArtMart?
  • Random fact. A couple of Indian families bought my books and happily told their friends. I thought it was really sweet. Other nationalities tended to just look at the books and move on.
  • Everyone asked me to sign their book copies! Not easy when you used cling wrap...whoops.
  • Cities generally sold more, because I wrote the magic 'h-word' in the introduction. All women, some mothers asking if it was appropriate for their younger daughters (yes!).
  • People holding Fully Booked/Book themed bags looked at the books, but didn't buy them. Not sure if this was a preference thing or the books themselves? Observation only.
  • Buyers were from their early teens to early-30s, plus mothers and the occasional husband/dad who wanted to buy it for their kids/wives.
  • There was a guy who was writing a children's book for his daughter (based on a story he tells her every night)  and asked for my help finding a printer and my heart kinda melted. <3
  • Sunday sales were MUCH slower than Saturday. Not sure if it's because we changed places or the crowd?
  • I ran out of cards, though! Does that mean anything?
  • Would I do this again? Yes! I think I did pretty well, despite the long lulls where I was wondering 'omg what if my books suck??' and distracted myself by meeting other artists.  But probably not for two days, and with more titles! Happy to say there's room for us out there. :)

The Fil ReaderCon Recap + Lessons Learned!

Woke up at 6am and headed straight for Taft (!) on November 28, 2015 for this! Being a ReaderCon newbie, I was so excited to organize and man the #romanceclass booth, where everyone brought over paperback copies of their books to sell. There were also different panels and activities for the day, like talks about Supporting your Favorite Authors, Book Discussions and Free Books!

Some things I learned about managing a booth (which I'm sure will come in handy next weekend, wink wink):

  1. Browsing copies! We sometimes forget that people don't know what our books are about, so having a browsing copy helps them get more of an idea of what it's about.
  2. Freebies are great, but people are really there to buy the book, so if you're giving something away, it has to be small enough that people still see the summary at the back.
  3. The morning was pretty slow, but people really started buying after the Speed Dating Event set up by Romance Writers of the Philippines (more on that in a bit)!
  4. The more we talk about the books, the better! I love that our community is so supportive that we generally know what everyone's book is about so we can market it to people who ask.
  5. We were basically selling to each other at one point! Part of being in the romance writing community here is that we love each other's work, so an author would literally come by, pick up five or ten books and then get their money back when their own books sell! We were all basically exchanging books at this point and signing them!
  6. Calculators are the best thing ever. And notebooks. And friends.
  7. Everyone loves cookies, esp. when Liana bakes them! (I think that romance books + pie and cookie place is a golden idea, everyone.)
  8. The "hugot" books sold really, really quickly. Interesting.
Speed Dating
Speed Dating

Then in the afternoon, we had the Speed Dating event! Organized by Romance Writers of the Philippines, readers came to us and we had to talk about what books they would be interesting, what our books were about and why they would like it. The idea was nerve-wracking at first, but it was a lot of fun to talk to readers and get an idea of what they're into and how they can get copies of our work. I would love to do this again soon. :P

95ec5-dscf0633.jpg

The one of the activities of the afternoon had everyone squee-ing with joy! Actors Rachel Coates and Gio Gahol took the stage to do some live readings of the books we've written. Oh gosh, the feelings were flying as they read off of Songs of Our Breakup, The Kitchen When It Sizzles, Finding X and The Boyfriend Backtrack! I'm sure everyone in the audience looked hilarious from the actors' point of view as we felt the love all over again. We did this to launch the Romance Class Podcast where they pre-recorded readings of some of the other books. It's a new way to bring our books to bigger audiences.

Needless to say, I'm exhausted, but so thrilled to be a part of this community. It's been one whole year of crazy things, and it's only getting better. Until next year (or sooner, maybe?)!

Happy Birthday, Cities!

One year ago today, I walked into a coffee shop in Greenhills and met Mina for the first time. She walked me through the process of posting Cities on Amazon and Smashwords, and at the end of the session she said, "So when do you want your book to be published?" Without even thinking I said "November 30." It had to be! It was a Tuesday (that's a thing), my parents' anniversary and my Dad's birthday. I couldn't not choose that day.

Then I left that coffee shop a self-published author. Now two (going on three) books, thousands of words and many many things later (including ReaderCon, which I will blog about soon!) here we are.

Happy birthday, Cities. You're the little book that started it all and I love you for it. :)

coVER
coVER

Lots of good things happening soon too! Cities is going to be in a major bookstore!! I'll announce things as I find out, but this is SOON.

Figrun: A Book Sharing Event

Who knew that these things could actually happen? Last Saturday, I was invited by The Dream Shirt (check out their stuff!) to Firgun, a book sharing event to raise money for the kids of Wawang Capiz in Bulacan.

The event was held at Local Edition Coffee in Legaspi Village--I love their paper cut decor!

I was asked to talk a bit about how Cities was published, and what one would have to do if they wanted to be a published author too! I talked about the three personas that are required for a self-published author (maybe more on that next time) and answered a few questions from the attendees.

I had to say, I was all kinds of flattered. The event was fun too!  I've got three new books in my shelf waiting to be read, and made a few new friends.