Triathloners Have No Pockets
Spokes is about two teens training for triathlon and looking for clues to a crime while pedaling through the NC countryside. When I read about this event only 49 mountain-miles from my house, I decided to check it out. The organizer thought it was a wonderful idea.
How did the experiment turn out? It was fun. I stayed in a dorm, visited with athletes, ate with their families, cheered them on, and sold some books.
It’s not really a spectator sport, although there are many spectators. There aren’t bleachers or a grand stand or concession stands. The spectators are roadies, come to gather at the starts and finishes of all the events to cheer them on. Their athlete takes off, and they hang around for three hours until they return, they cheer, and send them off again for a couple more hours. There’s a lot of hang time. For me, it was selling time, beginning at 7 A.M.
There aren’t concessions or souvenirs to buy, no displays to look at. There is no internet or wi-fi. Moms and kids play on blankets in the grass, read, and talk with other people. They walk the dogs, push strollers, and chase butterflies. Nothing really happens between the starts and finishes, just the transitions. I was set up next to the transition area and had a good view of all that goes on. It reminded me of teens rushing in, Hi Mom, change shirt and socks, take off in a hurry, Bye Mom, and leave a pile of sweaty clothes behind.
I was in a very busy spot, but no one really noticed or stopped in to see what I was doing. They aren’t used to having concessions. So after I got the lay of the land, I took my business to them. I wandered around with my business cards, chatting, playing with the kids, petting their dogs, talking about books.
At the last moment before leaving home, I decided to bring other books along, just in case. There’s a lesson here, book sellers. You don’t always know who your buyers will turn out to be. Lots of little kids at a Half Ironman? Who knew? Luckily, I brought other books. I sold books, just not the one I had planned!
The biggest problem, no one had money. They bring picnic lunches, snacks in Tupperware, and water bottles. Valuables are locked in their cars. Moms had to take long walks with the kids back to their cars to get money to purchase the books.
I’m glad I had this experience, and yes, it was worthwhile. Authors, you’ve heard me say this before: “Not all books sold today were purchased today.” Fifteen real books were purchased, but school visits will come out of this, an Asheville book club visit, and online sales from those who didn’t walk to their cars. Lots of moms heard about Spirit and plan to order.
Don’t be afraid to test new venues for your books. B&N isn’t the only game in town. But, be forewarned, triathloners don’t carry wallets.