Imagine walking around at an event. Maybe it’s a Comic Con. Maybe it’s a spring fair. Maybe it’s your local farmer’s market. You’re checking out all the sights, sounds, and people when BAM an overly enthusiastic salesperson has emerged from his booth or rounded the table. He’s right there, pushing whatever product he’s hocking in your face. You’re not interested AT ALL, but he keeps talking and talking while you’re trying to walk away, saying “No, thanks.”
Sucks, right? It’s uncomfortable and irritating.
I get it. I really do. I had it happen to me the last event I participated in…before the event even started! My wife and I had just arrived and were walking around trying to find either our table or the contact for the event. Some lady came at us selling essential oils and asked if we’d like to try some peppermint something or other. Even though we said no thank you, she held the bottle out like she was going to spray us anyway.
Authors can be the same way. I’ve encountered a few pushy ones myself, but for the most part, we’re a pretty laid back group. Sure, we want to make the sale—it’s how we make money. I’d say making connections is more important to us than that one book we didn’t sell.
Even though I’m an introvert at heart, I enjoy meeting with people whether they’re readers or not (*gasp*). It’s always fun to meet such a wide range of personalities. At a recent spring fair, I met this guy—a street hypnotist—who talked my ear off. He didn’t buy a book, but that was okay! I was glad for the few minutes speaking with him.
I’ll tell you, talking with him was infinitely more entertaining than watching people hurry past my table…which is one of the seven types of people I’ve noticed at events I have attended.
Type 1) the Curious. Glances at the “goods” being sold as they walk by—looks at the salesperson—“Oh, crap! He’s looking at me! But, I don’t want any books!”—smiles and hurries past. This person just wants to see what’s going on…that’s it. If they’re interested, they’ll stop.
Type 2) the Ostrich. Bolts by as quickly as possible without so much as a glance. They subscribe to the “if I don’t see them, they don’t see me” theory. They ostrich it out of there!
Type 3) the Browser. They will stop and look at EVERY table/booth. It doesn’t matter if it’s selling summer sausage, Bedazzled handbags, books, or all-in-one tools that will walk your dog, take your temperature, and improve your eyesight in just 30 days! They’ll stop and look. Then walk away without reaching for their wallet.
Type 4) the Bookworm. My (extremely biased) favorite! These people see books, they stop. Period. Sometimes they buy. Sometimes not. And that’s okay.
Type 5) the Every-man (or woman). These are the people who come to events just to see what’s being offered. They’ll stop at places they’re interested and walk on by the places they’re not. You might be able to interest them enough to persuade them to go for their wallet…you might not. They differ from the Ostrich because they’re not afraid of pushy salespeople.
Type 6) the Freebie. They come for the free stuff that can be found at events. But hey… who doesn’t like free stuff! (Shameless plug…I always have free stuff at my table. Usually bookmarks. If you see me, stop and grab one!)
Type 7) the Extrovert. This was my hypnotist friend. They just like the crowds…the chance to meet new people and chat. They provide entertainment in those lulls in sales. Nothing wrong with that!
I’ll admit I’m somewhere between an Ostrich and Curious depending on my mood. If my introverted side is bullying its way to the front that day, I’ll stick my head in the sand so fast an ostrich would be like, “Where’d he go?” Other days, I’ll walk by, glancing at tables and products while silently praying the salesperson isn’t going to be pushy.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what type of person you are. It’s okay to say no! Most authors aren’t going to try to hard sell you on their books. Sure, we have our sales pitches, but most of us have learned to recognize these different types of people and adjust accordingly.
If you seem interested in my books, I’ll give you the full pitch to try to nudge you in the right direction (buying, of course). If you’re just curious, I’ll throw out a few nuggets of info just to gage your level of interest. If you’re just browsing and so “no” almost immediately, I’ll still happily stand there and talk with you.
So, if you’re at an event and you see an author with no potential customers around, don’t be afraid to stop and say hi. The smart authors will silently thank you for it! They might give you a little bit of a sales pitch but that’s our job. Just remember, it’s okay to say no. We won’t curse you to life in a pit full of pushy salespeople trying to sell you holes. Just take one of the free bookmarks. If, in the future, you decide you need something to read, remember that author and buy a book.