First, let me preface this blog entry by saying I LOVE selling books at pop culture / comic con events. It’s great to meet and chat with readers and see friends who I’ve only previously known from social media exchanges. But sometimes things can get a bit…weird. And for those of you who sell at these events, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Case in point, an experience I had at last weekend’s event in San Antonio. At every event, there’s a certain percentage of folks who like to talk. Not buy, just talk. Sometimes these chats are with writers looking to share notes and experiences. Sometimes they’re with folks interested in your cover art or your novel’s subject or something else. 99% of the time, these are pleasant exchanges that break up the monotony of the sometimes longer-than-you’d-like gap between book sales.
But then there’s that other 1%…
Last weekend, a retiree-aged gentlemen stopped by my table and I told him about my novel. Usually, I can tell within a few seconds if someone’s really interested or just browsing or wanting to chat. He was the chatting type. So no problem, we talked about work, the weather, and so on. Nice guy, and we had a pleasant conversation. Until I mentioned my day job.
It seems I work for a company that he bought a product from some years ago (a technology product) that never worked as advertised, and it couldn’t even power up properly. The support line was zero help, and the replacement product he got was little improvement, lasting less than a couple months before he returned it for a refund. After ten long minutes of listening to this, nodding and wondering when the harangue would end, I made the mistake of saying our market share was twenty points higher than our next competitor, so we must be doing something right.
Wrong thing to say, Dave.
That set him off. Maybe it was our success that made us blind, he hissed, getting visibly worked up. Maybe that’s why people like me couldn’t see the problem. Maybe that’s why we ignored a glaring error in our product that literally EVERYONE on the internet was talking about. Keep in mind, I’d told him earlier I worked in an area nowhere close to the product he’d had an issue with. But that didn’t seem to matter. He had some things to unpack, and your friendly neighborhood author got the brunt of it.
Torturous minutes passed as I listened, growing less patient as I imagined potential readers passing by my table. By now he’d been standing at my table for around fifteen minutes.
So finally I fixed him with a glare and said, “So are you going to buy a book or are you going to keep bitching about my company?” That’s an exact quote, word for word. Needless to say he was taken aback. But instead of arguing back or stomping off (I expected one or the other to happen), he changed the subject and a couple minutes later HE BOUGHT A BOOK! Granted, he admitted he probably owed it to me after giving me such a hard time, which was a concession I actually admired. So oddly enough, it turned out well, and now all I hope is that he enjoys the book and I get the chance to chat with him next year.
For the record, I don’t advise using rudeness and profanity as sales techniques, but hey, whatever works. And it got me thinking about my writer friends and the strange experiences they might have had.
So tell me, what was your strangest book sale???