Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Few Pointers

Many of you know of Mike McPheter's reputation as the CFI Costco king. What you may not know is that there is a queen on the rise: Prudence Bice, author of Cedar Fort's "The Widower's Wife."

These two first-time authors are neck-to-neck in their phenomenal ability to move their books out of Costcos, so I dropped by to see Prudence in action. What was she doing that was so different? What unique technique did she have that allowed her to sell in the triple digits (yes, I said triple) in ONE signing.

The answer turned out to be something very, very simple.

When I first arrived, I expected to see something special luring customers to Prudence, but not really. Just a framed poster of her book, four organized stacks of books and a pen. Prudence sat behind Costco's usual signing table, watching the Thursday afternoon shoppers shuffle by. Since Prudence had never seen me before, I watched her a few times to see how she worked her magic.

Her opening was the same every time:

"Do you like to read?" followed by "Do you like historical romance?" Then she would hand them her book, back side up and let them read the ad copy.

100% of those replying yes to both questions bought the book as she assured them they would love it. Then everyone moved on.

After watching this a few times, I introduced myself and we had a great talk. Then I tried Prudence's approach at my next two signings to see how it played out for me. The first one, it seemed effective. My sales were up a bit from previous signings, which I was happy to attribute to Prudence. The second signing I used the technique at Costco, though, it backfired.

"Do you like to read?"

Arguably, I was in a horrible position in the store (facing the clothes with books behind me), so I think that played into it.

But I thought I would share this with you all. Getting the customer to say "yes" before they pick up your book is good in encouraging them to say "yes" once they have it in their hands.

Handing the book to people ad copy facing up is something you should do at all signings, as I have coached many of you to do. It is the back that let's them know if they're interested even though people just like to look at the front. If you hand a book to people back-side up, they will flip it over and look at the cover. They will not necessarily flip it over to read the back if you hand it to them cover up.

Just a few points to consider.

Happy signings!


  1. Thank you for sharing best practices. I have a couple of signings coming up for Defensive Tactics, but as a first time author, I don't know these tricks of the trade...until now. Thanks for sharing.