Who is Chuck Shipley?
Chuck Shipley is a retired Game Warden and author of four self-published books: Arctic to Alpine; Poacher Chaser Holidays; Poachers, Beans & Birch Bark; and Poachers, Cranberries & Snowshoes. PPG’s Publisher (and author of this blog) first met Chuck at the 2012 Spruce Meadows Christmas Market in November, and I was so impressed with his sales abilities that I decided to share his success story with our authors here. I hope you all find it informative and helpful.
Chuck Shipley Can Sell Books!
As you know from reading my recent blog entry titled A Lesson in Book Sales at the Spruce Meadows Christmas Market, I shared a booth there with one of PPG’s top-selling authors, Graeme Connell, this year. He had attended last year and sold more than enough of his books to cover the costs of his booth and then some, so he offered to share his booth with me this year. He also told me about another author he’d met the year before—Chuck Shipley—who’d had just as much success as he had. Graeme suggested I go over to his booth to meet him, so I did.
When I met Chuck, I learned that 2012 was his eighth year at the Spruce Meadows Christmas Market and he’d seen a profit every single year. To give you an idea how many books you’d have to sell to make a profit at Spruce Meadows … well, the cheapest booths there cost $1,100 each. Many of them are even more than that. So, if your book is priced at $12 retail, for example, and it costs you $2 per unit to print it, then you’re earning $10 per book. You’ll have to sell 110 books just to break even on the cheapest booth in the place. I’ll admit I was skeptical that anyone would be able to sell that many books at one Christmas market … but both Graeme Connell and Chuck Shipley have proven it’s possible to sell even more. And, most impressive of all, Chuck has proven it can be done year after year with backlist titles!
What is Chuck’s Secret to Success?
Chuck Shipley didn’t sell enough books to earn $1,100 at Spruce Meadows this year. He sold enough to earn over $4,000! He brought in enough to cover two booths and then some! I had to know how! So, I sent Chuck an email asking if he’d share his secret to success with PPG’s authors. He agreed. And here are a few of his comments…
First and foremost, Chuck told me, “There are no secrets … the only way to sell the books in volume is to get your butt out there where you can be seen and heard.” He is also a strong advocate of listening hard and asking lots of questions (of other authors, publishers, etc.) to learn what has worked for them and then drawing your own conclusions … trusting your own gut.
A few years back, a publicist had criticized the titles of two of Chuck’s books Poachers, Beans & Birch Bark and Poachers, Cranberries & Snowshoes—and insisted no one would buy the books because the titles didn’t make sense. His gut told him she was wrong on this one, so he kept the names as is. What he found is that the unique names brought curious people to his booth. They started asking questions, to which Chuck answered with his own polished elevator pitch, and voila! The books sold … much like Graeme’s did whenever he’d presented his own elevator pitch to prospective buyers.
But a wonderful sales pitch is useless if no one is picking up your book, isn’t it? This is why Chuck knows the importance of an eye-catching book cover created by a professional graphic designer like the ones employed by PPG. This is crucial.
In terms of where to sell your books, he added, “Get yourself to every place that will let you in to sell your book … any farmers market or venue that attracts a lot of people is bound to attract people who will like your book.” That said, he cautions, “Make sure the venue you choose matches the subject matter of your book.” Where a book tailored toward a female audience may sell well at The Woman’s Show, Chuck knows his books are better suited to a venue with a strong male audience.
One thing both Graeme Connell and Chuck Shipley have in common is making their booth displays eye-catching with lots of colourful posters and displays. Much like a well-crafted book cover, these displays draw people in where they can hear that polished elevator pitch that sells the books so well!
The long and the short of it is that selling lots of books takes some serious thought (coming up with an effective elevator pitch) and dedicated effort (getting out there to all these markets to sell, sell, sell) on the author’s part. The good news? It’s possible to sell a lot of books if you take Chuck’s advice!
We are very grateful to Chuck for willingly sharing his expertise with us. Thank you! For those of you who are interested in buying his books, please visit his website: http://www.jbspublishing.com/index.html. Or, better yet, visit his booth at the next farmer’s market in Alberta! You know he’ll be there.
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