Bookselling Tips from The Lemonade War (Part Two)

Alison Morris - May 1, 2007

Continued from "Bookselling Tips from The Lemonade War (Part One)"

How could a book written for third graders be of help to you, a grown-up? Because Jackie introduces readers to 10 key selling tips, referred to in the book as "Ten Tips for Turning Lemons into Loot." Each of these tips manages to benefit either Jessie or Evan in their lemonade war, and each of these techniques or approaches was (perhaps inadvertently?) employed by Jackie in the ways that she put together one of the most thoughtfully orchestrated events we've ever hosted at our bookstore.

I won't explain how she managed to succeed at using all ten tips, because it would make for an extra long blog entry, and it would steal Jackie's thunder. If you want to learn the remaining tips, read The Lemonade War! But first, read about four things that Jackie did to promote her event and her books.

1. "Location: It all starts with where you put your lemonade stand." Jackie chose a good location by selecting her kid-friendly local independent bookstore, but she also created an eye-catching location within a location by building her own lemonade stand (out of a $25 table and some PVC pipe!). Customers couldn't help but stop when they saw the bright blue banners on the stand, and they couldn't help but ask about her book, as Jackie poured them a free cup of very tasty lemonade. In many cases this resulted in what? A sale.

Here we see Jackie, in her booth, talking with Karen Day, whose first book Tall Tales should be arriving at the store any day now. In the photo on the left you can see the actual lemonade in Jackie's stand. In the photo on the right you can see that the lemonade booth doubles perfectly as a booksigning table.


2. "Advertising: Make your lemons stand out in a crowd." Jackie not only promoted her event to those on her own mailing list, she also designed a large poster advertising the event, sent me a proof to look over, then printed a few copies for me, so that I could hang them at the store and elsewhere. Creating the poster gave Jackie some creative control, plus the satisfaction of knowing that we'd be visibly advertising her event. It gave ME the sense that Jackie wanted to make my job easier, which makes me like her even more, which makes me even more keen to sell her books. Win, win, win. You can see one of Jackie's posters below, as it appeared on our endcap display featuring Jackie's books.

3. "Value-added: Giving your lemons that something extra." Jackie not only brought enough lemonade for all in attendance, she brought homemade chocolate chip cookies too! (Talk about added value…) She also brought paper giveaways, each advertising The Lemonade War, and each giving younger attendees something more to do if they became bored with the banter of their accompanying grown-ups. She brought bookmarks, a brochure of "Ten Terrific Tips for the best lemonade stand ever!", a word search, and a trivia quiz. All of them were designed and printed by her, and all of them were a big hit with customers. All of them also include a link to Jackie's Lemonade War website (smart, smart, smart!).

4. "Goodwill: How to make people love your lemons." Kids who entered Jackie's trivia quiz filled out their names and ages in designated spaces on the back of the form. They then stuck their trivia quiz forms into a raffle box, from which Jackie drew one name at two different times during her event. To each of the selected kids she gave away a free book.

But what about the kids who were too young to enter the trivia contest or those who hadn't yet read The Lemonade War? Jackie made it pretty darn easy for everyone. She printed the answer to each question on its own lemon-shaped piece of paper, laminated those lemons, and stuck them in obvious places around the store, making the trivia quiz more like a matching game than an actual memory test. Below are two examples of her highly visible clues.


The end result of Jackie's efforts was a wonderful event with about 50 people in attendance and book sales that far exceeded those we've had even at some of our "bigger name" readings and signings.

What additional sales tips can you learn from Jackie Davies? Read The Lemonade War to find out! Want writing tips too? I'd suggest signing up for a session of Rising River, Jackie's "Working Retreat for the Writer of Children's Books." I hear it's about as soul-satisfying as a home-baked cookie and a cup of cold lemonade.

6 thoughts on “Bookselling Tips from The Lemonade War (Part Two)

  1. Victoria Fraser

    Wonderful event! My 5 1/2 year-old actually requested the first 3 chapters of “The Lemonade War” for bedtime reading, even though her new “Rainbow Fairies” summer vacation book was burning a hole in the nightstand.

  2. JJ

    Cool stuff. I’ve been to other good book launch events that take a similar tack. But I do find it somewhat discouraging that more and more of the responsibility for marketing books is on the author. I personally know at least four authors who have spent most or all of their advances on promotion, including such goodies as Jackie has created, often without much help from their publishers — so they end up writing for free, at least until they earn out the advance. I think that’s rather sad. But I suppose it’s a natural result of the crowded marketplace.

  3. sarah

    Lemonade War and Jackie’s wonderuful brochure on tips for the BEST Lemonade Stand EVER has inspired my team of 4th and 5th “Fit Girls” to create “Lemonade for Literacy” stands to support the literacy nonprofit, First Book. They are having SO much fun with this project. Thank you, Jackie!


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