It's a Cover-Up!
A book-selling social experiment.
Over Labor Day weekend, I took part in a big multi-day event that I sign up for every year I release a new book. It’s called the Windsor Harvest Festival, and it takes place in nearby Windsor, Colorado. Along with hot-air balloon launches, parades, music, food, and lots of other fun stuff are two days of a park-full of vendors peddling their goods and services to attendees.
When my first book “From a Dead Sleep” came out years ago, and I was willing to try just about anything to promote it to readers, I took a stab at selling signed copies at festival events, and found some pretty good success with it. The most successful was the Windsor Harvest Festival, in large part because of the huge number of people that went to it (seemingly the entire city). This has been the case every year.
So, though I don’t work many festivals anymore, I do still set up a booth at this one (again, on the years I’m promoting a new book). And over two long days this time (9am-5pm), I met a ton of readers including Sean Coleman fans I’d first met (and pitched my books to) years ago, as well as some who’d never even heard of me or my series.
The time and energy spent at this event is always worth it.
But this year (my fifth appearance) was notably different. I didn’t do well, but rather extremely well. On the first day alone, I sold more books than I sometimes had in previous years over both days.
Now, there are a few possible explanations for what happened — for what made this year’s outing particularly successful. I’ll list some:
the festival seemed a little better attended than in previous years
I was a little more active with the social-media promotion leading up to the event
my booth was a little better shaded than in previous years (in the 100-degree weather)
I’m a little more well-known locally than I used to be
I had more titles to sell than in previous years (five now in whole)
But honestly, I don’t think any of those were significant factors; marginal at best.
There was, however, one big difference between this year and all the previous years — a new, consequential ingredient that I’m absolutely convinced made a huge book-selling impact: I wore a hat.
Okay, you’re probably a little confused right now, but just hear me out…
First of all, I don’t think I’m breaking any news when I say that the average person (with everything else being equal) is more likely to buy something from a good-looking individual than a not-so-good-looking individual. This has likely been true since the beginning of mankind.
Next, one must consider that I’m kind of a funny-looking dude. I mean, I wouldn’t consider my appearance hideous, or anything of that nature, but instead reminiscent of that memorable rhetorical description of Steve Buscemi’s character in Fargo as “funny-looking” in a “general kind of way.”
Unlike Buscemi, however, I don’t think all or even most of my facial features are contributing to the problem. It’s mainly just the area above my eyebrows… also known as my head.
You see, I’m bald… and not in a graceful or distinguished way like Patrick Stewart or the late Sean Connery. I’ve got this weird, slope-shaped cranium with an uneven, increasingly-receding hairline that seems to take on a slightly different configuration and direction whenever I look in the mirror. My remaining locks are overly thick where they shouldn't be, discouragingly thin where I wish they were thick, and even appear multicolored at times (usually when I’m outside, dependent on the angle of the sun).
The granular display even plays tricks on people’s ability to guess my general age, as evidenced by the time a medical professional assumed I was my wife’s father (folks, my wife and I are just four years apart).
Truth be told, I probably should have started shaving my head years ago, but I’m honestly not sure it would make much of a difference being that I’d still have that misshapen noggin thing to contend with.
But here’s the kicker: all of it goes away when I just wear a cap. I suddenly look… well, pretty normal, even kind of youthful, not at all like I could be my wife’s father, and — yes — more approachable.
So, as somewhat of a social experiment, I (for the first time ever at an author appearance) wore a cap. And that first day, I broke my one-day record for personal book sales. The second day, I wore a different cap, and sold one more copy than the day before, breaking the record again. Attendees were simply more interested in me than in previous years.
My conclusion: anti-bald book-purchase bias is real, and it’s time it was called out and properly categorized as an indirect violation of the “Don't judge a book by its cover” clause.
I think singer-songwriter Randy Newman is probably retired, but if he ever felt inspired to write a debasing follow-up tune to 1977’s “Short People,” “Bald People” would seem the natural choice.
Now, I should probably clarify (unless it isn’t obvious) that this week’s newsletter topic has been a bit tongue-in-cheek. In all honesty, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my baldness (let alone stressing over it); that’s apparently my mother’s job (she’s adamant that my father’s side of the family is genetically responsible, and seems weirdly bitter over it).
That said, the results were indisputable, and there’s a legitimate point to be made when it comes to hair and sales.
In fact, when I mentioned to my wife what I planned to write about this week, she (after first asking, “Seriously?”) informed me of all kinds of social-media postings out there from restaurant waitresses who’ve experimented with different hairstyles on the job to see if it affected their tips. The consensus has been a big yes, and the almost unanimous findings have been that pigtails bring in the most money (around double the normal haul)… mostly from male customers.
At first, this discovery struck me as fairly disturbing, since it would seem to say something creepy about the things that go through some guys’ minds. But then, I remembered that there’s also a lot of male readers out there. And… it gave me an idea for my next author event:
Money in the bank, folks. Let’s break another record!
Have a story to tell about personal appearances that sell, and those that don’t? Want to vent about the above image now being scorched in your mind? Tell me about either in an email or in the comment section below.
Since I ran two good-sized interviews (which I hope you all enjoyed) in my last two newsletters, I haven’t had a lot of space lately to talk about developments on the author front (despite there being some things to share). So today, I’m playing a little catch-up…
RESTITUTION is now on audiobook
That’s right! It took a bit longer than expected, but Book 5 in the Sean Coleman Thriller series is now on audio. It’s narrated by the great Shawn Compton (who narrated two earlier Sean Coleman Thrillers), and it sounds great!
Late last month, I attended the 2022 CIPA EVVY Awards in downtown Denver. Restitution had been named a finalist in the Thriller category, and it ended up taking home the Silver Medal! My wife was out of town, but I was blessed that both of our kids could accompany me to the event. It was a fun time.
Obligatory Dog Shot
"Please sir, spare a poor peasant..."
I never got to see the late Joe Cocker perform live, but from all the amazing live recordings I’ve heard of his over the years, it’s hard to imagine that many people put on a better concert.
1970’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen (a two-record album) is comprised of nearly 20 songs recorded during Cocker’s tour from earlier that year. It was released in conjunction with a theatrical documentary of the same name, and it’s a fantastic, soulful offering of mostly cover-songs (with Cocker’s unique spin).
On a side note, I didn’t realize until just this week (when researching this album for today’s newsletter) that Cocker spent his later years in my home-state of Colorado. He and his wife lived at the “Mad Dog Ranch” in Crawford, CO, a small town on the western side of the state, where he later died and was buried at the local cemetery.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.
Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!