John Hodgman (aka PC Guy from the Mac commercials) has been doing events around the country in promotion of the just released, paperback edition of his second book More Information Than You Require
The admission price for Second City event in Chicago was showing up a copy of the book. You could either bring your own or buy one there prior to the show.
This is a brilliant strategy for selling books and what 800-CEO-READ has been telling authors for years. If you are an author doing an event, you must create a way for every person in the audience to leave with a copy of your book.
Many will compromise with selling books in the back of the room. This is a poor alternative and anyone who has done it will tell you the conversation rate is 10% to 30%. If you do the selling, it means the logistics of getting books to (and from) the site, and more importantly, it means that you will be tied up making change for $20 bills when you should be making better connections with the people who came to see you. You can sometimes find a local bookstore who will do the selling, but again the conversion rate is not good for you or the bookstore.
There are a numbers of ways to successfully pull off the books-for-all strategy:
- Start with talking to the event organizer and saying “Do you plan on buying books for all the attendees?” You’d be amazed how often that is already in the works. My experience from 800-CEO-READ is that 30% of events already have plans for books, private events much more often than public ones.
- You can make it a requirement of the group who is hosting you. Many have required the purchase of books ahead of the event. Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell did it on the 40 Cities, 40 Days Tour for Citizen Marketers. Seth Godin did it with the crowd-organized tour for The Dip.
- You can make people buy them at the door. That leaves the decision to the attendee as to whether the cost is worth it. That’s essentially what Hodgman did by making a copy of the book the price of admission. Event organizers are always concerned that this will keep people away. If $15 in exchange for a printed souvenir of the event is going to them away, you should ask the organizer why they are doing the event.
- You can find a sponsor. If you are speaking at a conference, there are all sorts of people who might like your idea next to their concept. This is another spot that 800-CEO-READ can do cool things like custom pages tipped into the front of the book.
- If you are getting a keynote, swap a portion of your speaking fee for the purchase of book. This is certainly the most controversial of what I have suggested and even more so given the currently climate for professional speaking. That said, I think during the first six months after book launch this is an amazingly effective strategy to both sell books and get the word out. You never know where those copies will end up.