Sunday, February 22, 2015

No Biggie

Sadly, Chapters did not work out.

We spoke to a few people, make perhaps a few connections with friends they knew, telling us that these friends played D&D, but it was the wrong crowd.  Too many mothers and fathers with children, too many aged couples, too many people walking through the bookstore with a thousand yard stare.  They weren't just ignoring us, it was clear watching them pass that they were ignoring everything.

Having time to watch the bookstore in action, I saw far more customers arriving for the Starbucks next to us than seemed to come for the books.  I saw staff bored out of their minds, clearly with nothing to do and no one to direct.  All in all, a disappointing day.

But an educational one.  A day with a message.  A day reminding me that I've done very well to pursue my book on the internet.  I could not help but think of people with no internet presence, bravely writing their first book, then attempting to do what I did today with everything resting on succeeding at a bookstore.  That would be . . . heartbreaking.  I am glad I did not have all my eggs in that basket.

I woke today to find on my feed that we had sold a book overnight.  In a day or two, I will see another book being sold.  Puts failing at the Chapters in perspective.

It is sad, however.  It is.  By the end of the day, what with feeling one kind of stress before, then keeping up our energy to be hit with another sort of stress at the end (as we debriefed), we came home exhausted and strung out.  I had a sleep and now I'm up, feeling like this is something that happened yesterday.

So, next Saturday I will do it again.  At a completely different Chapters, much further out, in the suburbs.  Could be good.  Could be bad.  We'll just have to find out.


6 comments:

Tim said...

The crowd is definitely a big problem: D&D, albeit unfortunately, falls into a niche activity by most standards now. Better to be weird than Satanic, no doubt. ;)

Best of luck for next Saturday. Not sure how much it may help, but if the next Chapters is within a mall with a Facebook page or other online presence (like the Chinook Centre), you could try making a post on their page to draw more people out. You never know where you might find a DM in need hiding!

Carl Torvik said...

Have you ever considered using public play to shill your books? Find a location (even the Chapters if they''d go for it) and run a short game to show your skill -with a stack of books ready at hand?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yes, Carl. A couple of times. It isn't bad, we have sold a few books that way - but I find that players at clubs generally treat a game played by others as private affairs. They don't want to intrude, even if told it's fine.

Scott Driver said...

A close "artsy" friend has a storefront where she sells boho shit that she's culled from thrifts in the area. Until recently she did it to keep busy while selling her art and treading water. It's not normally sustainable without another income stream. (In her case, her husband ... she's very talented but it's tough to make a living on visual art here.)

She has the social media network you'd expect of an interesting, talented, vivacious person. She starts posting each thrift find on Instagram ... things change. Now she posts whatever she finds, most of which is horseshit, and just based on her personality and a wide net, someone ALWAYS asks "omg how much and what size??" then rushes to buy it. It's completely altered how she views her dorky time-sink of a storefront. Now it's a thing.

Here's my question: Your in-person salesmanship - that face you give randoms at a con or a bookstore - are you doing that online anywhere? As far as I know, you're acerbic and uncompromising online, but willing to glad-hand and suffer fools in person.

You want to sell books or you wouldn't be sitting there watching assholes in front of a Chapters. Why are you willing to make salesman faces in person, where you might talk to three people, but not here, where you could reach a LOT more if you used the same salesman face? It seems perverse.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Interesting. I am often astounded at the idea that people prefer to buy from a 'salesman face.' I find them quite off-putting, myself.

I am acerbic and uncompromising online - in two specific ways. Either I have identified an individual as a fuckwit, and I say so, or I attack wide groups of people for having what I consider to be a stupid opinion.

I never, ever, go after an individual person for no reason.

In person, whether I am selling or not, I am remarkably pleasant, friendly, witty, honest and forthright - particularly with strangers whom I do not know and therefore have no reason to dislike. This is why Toronto was an epiphany. I found I could speak quite candidly and absolutely honestly about the book, receiving in kind interest, a desire to know more and a remarkable approval of what I was doing. People who bought books from me did not feel pressured, duped, unsure or 'sold.' They felt enlightened, happy, encouraged and with a bounce in their step. People who bought the small book one day read it in a single night and came back the next day to buy the large book. I didn't have to slap on a 'sales face.' I had the product these people were desperate to buy.

When I am friendly, sweet, gentle in my content, full of tolerance and consideration online, I get trolls who hijack the conversation, treat my blog like a welcome mat, treat my readers like morons and show zero respect for anything that I've written.

Granted, there has always been a part of me that, as you say, does not suffer fools to live. Neither do universities, professional workplaces, the halls of power, people who make a lot of money for a living nor any person of intellect.

The difference between me and all of them is that I'm a WRITER; I write. Most of the extremely smart people I know do not give a shit about anything that happens online. This online community holds no interest for them.

I disagree. I think the world can be changed online. I don't think, however, that it can be changed by being nice.

TED Talks are nice. TED Talks are proving to be a dismal failure.

(cont)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Now, Scott, I'll be frank with you, because I find you a bright guy. You may have noticed that I'm not selling the kind of thing your friend with the Instagram account is selling. She has a product that STUPID people will buy.

I am not selling something that STUPID people are interested in. I'm not selling cute, popular, sweet, precious, easy, stuff that will solve problems or a balm for people's ills. I am selling hard work, invention, creativity, failure and an admittance that you are inadequate. I'm selling the same philosophy that I live by every day. I'm not smart enough. I'm not working hard enough. I haven't produced enough value yet. This is what drives me forward and it is what I am selling.

I have a limited market. Despite that, in the last six months I have sold 250 books. My overall income from being acerbic and uncompromising has earned me more than $4,500. This is not enough to live on, but . . . it is enough to be proud of. I count these as people who want very BADLY to excel. I think these are amazing people. They put up with all my shit and my intolerance, then they tell me that I'm changing their game and their perceptions, that their players are loving the change and that they are running the best campaigns of their lives.

My god man. This seems perverse to you?

If you want compromise, if you want sales, I suggest you knock at the WOTC's door. Instead, you're here.

My technique must be working, no?

Listen, seriously. If you really feel that I should take steps to change myself in order to sell more - then I presume you feel that more people should read my books. If that is how you feel - if that is how you REALLY feel - then get off your ass and point your friends in my direction. Write a review for Amazon, write another for Lulu, write it on your facebook, write it on Reddit. Your pitching my book online is TEN TIMES more valuable than me doing it - because I'm obviously biased and selling, whereas you're someone who has been CONVINCED.

Go express your being convinced to other people!