Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Day I Outsold Stephen King

Last Saturday was the official book launch weekend for Spooky Sudbury. I drove up north late on Thursday evening and spent most of the day on Friday doing a few different media appointments.

Jim, my publicist at Dundurn, had scheduled in studio appearances with Gary, Rich & Hilary In The Morning (Sudbury’s KiSS 105.3 FM) and Markus Schwabe of  CBC’s The Morning North as well as recording some videos at the haunted Bell Mansion for Eastlink News.

Jenny arrived on Saturday to join me for a launch that started at Chapters at 11 AM until 1 PM, and then at the Coles from 2 PM until 5 PM.  Jenny had to head back down south that night. On Sunday Sept 29th I did one final signing at the Sudbury Costco before heading back home to Hamilton.

Barnaby and Mark

Mark and Jenny, signing the last copy left at Chapters

We sold out at the Chapters in a little over a half hour. But we stuck around until our scheduled end time there. Chapters had copies of Haunted Hamilton (as well as copies of Campus Chills and One Hand Screaming), and the adjacent Costco had plenty of stock, so some people ran next door to grab a copy from there to get signed.

Barnaby hangs out on a bench outside the Coles New Sudbury while Jenny signs at the front of the store
Jenny's boyfriend Bruno hangin' with Barnaby
Mark, Barnaby and Lynn Murray (one of Mark's teachers from Levack Public School)
Then we moved on to the Coles, where there was enough stock to last almost two hours before selling out Barnaby sat on a bench outside the store and attracted a huge number of people. At least a dozen different groups stopped to each take their picture with Barnaby, many of whom were likely tweeting and posting them to Facebook.  I thought that was a pretty cool promotional opportunity, particularly since Barnaby was wearing a SPOOKY SUDBURY t-shirt.

On the Sunday, the signing at Costco happened.

Costco entrance sign announcing book signing

And that took me by complete surprise.

I'm a bookstore guy, so, while I had been pleased with the fact Costco was interested in having me in for a signing, I wasn't sure how successful it would be. Sure, there was lots of stock. But would the customers there be interested in an author?

The answer to that question is a resounding: YES!

First, the staff greeted me so warmly, and had everything laid out perfectly, including a sign at the front and a decorated table across from the skid of books. One of the managers said that I was only the second author ever to sign at that Costco. Canadian music icon, Anne Murray, was the only other author who has signed there. And hockey legend Bobby Orr was the only other author who was scheduled to be there later in the fall.  That was some pretty fine company for me to be in.

Author table at Costco Sudbury. (Barnaby was happy to meet up with his old Costco friends)

I was tickled when I saw that Spooky Sudbury was sitting on a skid near Stephen King's hot new book Doctor Sleep. So, I, of course, had to take a picture of it. I mean, how often would I ever be merchandised so close to a writer I have admired for decades? So close to a book that was hitting the charts at #1 in markets around the world?

I had to snap a picture of that, of course.

The signing at Costco was amazing. People continued to line up to chat with me and get a signed copy. Folks were buying multiple copies, for birthday gifts, Christmas, and other occasions. I ended up staying most of the rest of the day, and realized, towards the end, that we had pretty much decimated the pile of books.

BEFORE: A skid of hundreds of copies of Spooky Sudbury. (Doctor Sleep by Stephen King is on the left)

AFTER: The Spooky Sudbury pile cut down by half, "lapping" sales of Doctor Sleep
When I looked over at the pile of Doctor Sleep, I was surprised and quite pleased to see that Spooky Sudbury had outsold it. And, as a bookseller friend later pointed out, given that King's book is 3X the size of mine, the sheer number of unit sales to deplete the skid so far down was truly amazing. He said I didn't just outsell King, but I lapped him. (thanks for the ego-boost, Nathan!)  :)

Yes, I know, it was only in a single store in a single city in a single afternoon. But at least I can say that I outsold Stephen King.

One must, after all, look for ways to define oneself as a "big fish in a small pool" - thus, even though it was in a very limited fashion, I can boast about having two bookstores sell out of one of my books and outselling the King of horror.

Not bad, if I do say so myself. And I figure, I better say it. I just have to be careful not to break my arm while trying to pat myself on the back.

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