Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Book Sales the Old-fashioned Way by Andy Scheer
Yesterday at a bookstore coffee shop, I met a man whose book I was editing.
I'd already sent him my edited version of the manuscript, and he'd sent me his comments and suggested revisions. But since he was in town for a convention, he asked if we could meet. He showed me alternative cover designs from the publisher, and we discussed those.
But primarily we just got to know each other. Having worked through 78,000 words about his passion for ministry, I felt I already knew him. But as we sat in the bookstore, we got to know each other better. He spoke of having taken cross-country road trips with his wife and twin sons, who are now thirteen. He said that instead of playing video games in the car, the boys liked to read.
I spoke of having read Tony Hillerman stories, set in Arizona and New Mexico, during a trip through those states. And I casually mentioned that in my minutes in the store before he arrived, I'd enjoyed seeing on the shelves a few books by some author friends.
I pointed to the top shelf of the left-hand section—a book with a bright orange spine that sat third from the right. I said the author was a former Navy man who lived in Fort Collins, Colorado. And I started describing some of the plot elements. Husband-and-wife treasure hunters combed the globe seeking artifacts associated with Napoleon's time in exile. But those artifacts, I said, merely contained clues to a hidden cache from the time of the Greco-Persian wars.
“That sounds like the kind of story my boys would like,” my client said. “They like stories that involve travel and history.”
After our meeting he walked to the checkout counter with a copy of my other friend's book.
Even in an age where most promotional eggs go into the basket of social media, there's still a place for an old-fashioned, word-of-mouth recommendation. (I'm not sure if there's an app for that.)