"I hope those of you out there in the internet-ether will take a minute or two to respond to a brief survey. This past month, I've been hitting most of my local and regional bookstores, doing signings to support The Good Humor Man, or, Calorie 3501. Some of the customers I interact with are either friends, fans of the Jules Duchon books, or people who are at least somewhat familiar with the new book through reading a review or seeing a notice in the newspaper. The majority of people I talk with (or try to talk with), however, are what we call in the car business, "cold sales" -- they don't know me from Adam; they've never heard of my books, new or old; and they had no idea that when they walked into their local Barnes and Noble they'd be forced to stroll past some dude sitting at a table with a pile of books in front of him, a hopeful (hopeless?), supplicant's grin on his face.
Here's what I want to know: what is the best, most effective way to initially interact with a potential "cold sale"? I've generally found that, if I'm able to strike up a conversation that lasts more than two seconds, I have about a 50%-50% chance of selling a book (assuming this person has any interest whatsoever in what I'm selling. . . if they never pick up a horror novel, or a SF novel, or any novels at all, and if they aren't shopping for, or considering shopping for, a friend/relative/neighbor who likes that kind of stuff, then I could be Lee Iacocca and not sell them anything).
Do a little thought experiment for me. Assume that you've just walked into a Barnes and Noble store to browse, to kill a half-hour, maybe to get a cup of coffee. As you walk through the front doors, you find yourself facing a table with an author plunked down behind it. You have never heard of this person, nor have you heard of his book(s), but let's assume you glance quickly at the poster advertising his signing and see that the book is either of a genre you read or of some marginal interest to you for another reason (attractive cover; title sounds intriguing; etc.). Given this, which of the following approaches taken by the author would be most likely to result in your pausing to talk with him or her or examine the books for sale?
A) The author makes eye contact, greets me with a smile, and says, "How are you doing today?"
B) The author makes eye contact and gives me a really quick pitch for the book, such as, "Would-you-like-to-read-about-how-El
C) The author makes eye contact, greets me with a smile, but doesn't say anything.
D) The author is busy signing copies of his/her books and doesn't appear to notice me, which gives me the freedom to pick up a copy of the book and read the back cover description without being immediately harrangued; if the author happens to look up after I've read the description and starts talking to me, I'll at least say hello.
E) The author is busy talking with other people, which both reassures me that he/she is not radioactive and gives me the freedom to pick up a copy of the book and read the back cover description without being immediately harrangued; if the author happens to look up after I've read the description and starts talking to me, I'll at least say hello.
F) Nothing the author says or does will convince me to pay him/her any mind; I hate being solicited and having my personal space invaded when all I want to do is spend some quiet time minding my own business in a bookstore. I MIGHT wander over to the display and check out the books, but only after the author has left.
So, post your choice (or a different option, if I failed to list your preferred scenario). If I get enough responses, not only might I improve my "cold sales" technique, but I might even get aWriters Digest article out of it!