Yesterday was the first day in a series of book signings at Kroger stores here in North Texas. The program is simple. Send a set of books to the program administrator where they are evaluated. Assuming they meet standards set by Kroger, they are entered as products into their point of sale system.

Once that is done, you schedule the weekend dates at Kroger stores, set up a table on the agreed upon dates and sign books. The buyer’s pay for them when the bar codes are scanned and they check out. Kroger collects the sales tax and takes a healthy chunk of the margin.

A couple of weeks or so later, you get a check in the mail from the contractor who runs the program. From afar, it would seem to be an administrative nightmare so I am glad all I have to do is sign up and show up!

I picked the stores within a 30-minute drive from my house based on the record of book sales per/weekend. The sales data only shows the number of adult or children’s books sold by authors participating in the program. I called the store manager and met him to see where I would set up. The location was great – right in front of the check out lanes.

Bad news, no electrical power. Oh well, bring a book to read when my laptop battery runs out of juice.

Times are limited – arrive around 0915 – 0930 and be fully set up by 1000. Pack up is at 1600 unless you want to stay later.

When I arrived, I found part of “my space” taken up by the man from Frito-Lay building a portable display. So, after a bit of discussion, we figured out how to share the space. I lost about 50% of what I thought I would get. The big problem was my pull up banner now had to go behind my table, not next to it.

Lesson number two… In future signings, ask the manager if they will make PA announcements during the day. If they do, come with a short statement someone can read. At this Kroger, they were kind enough to read it on the hour. For Sunday, I have it printed…. Whether it generated sales, I don’t know but it was good for my ego.

First day sales were better than the average I get from Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs and even some book fairs. We’ll see what Sunday brings.

I found out that attire is important. I wore a hat that says Vietnam and Desert Storm Veteran and had my helo helmet on the table.

What was really gratifying was that people of all ages, came up to my table and thanked me for my service to our country. It was totally unexpected, and in many ways, made my day. We’ll see if it continues on Sunday.

Marc Liebman

April 2018