Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nancy Robinson Masters and the Grocery Store Gig

I’ve written about Nancy Robinson Masters before. (See the article “Eat the Fried Chicken Before You Sign Books”) I’ll probably write about her many more times because she is one of the most successful and innovative book promoters that I know. So I was only mildly surprised when I walked into the grand opening of a huge grocery store in Denton, Texas on Saturday and found her at a small table nestled in between a clown making animal balloons and a Dallas Cowboy linebacker who was also hawking books. Across from her at the Starbucks coffee stand was a live band. Nancy had six different books displayed on her table and she stood out like a beacon amongst all that glitter and noise.

Just to give you a little background, Nancy is the author of over 25 books and 3000 articles for both adults and children, published by such notable companies as Scholastic, Franklin Watts, Cherry Lake Publishing, and Publishing. Three of her books are self-published. The Horrible Halloween Costume and The Fabulous Flying Flag Farm are both hardback children’s books with color illustrations. She has sold over 20,000 copies of each book. All My Downs Have Been Ups, a hardback collection of essays about people, places and planes she has known in her career as a writer and pilot, has sold over 60,000 copies. Nancy knows how to sell books.

Nancy does school visits; motivational speeches and workshops for teachers, clubs, and corporations; and speeches and workshops for writers’ groups and conferences. One of the topics of conversation I had with her this weekend was the fact that she had so many speaking and school visits planned the next two weeks that she wouldn’t have any time for writing. I’m sure she will figure out how to juggle her time for what she needs to do. I’ve never known her to miss a deadline or fail to complete the terms of a writing contract.

Now, back to our story. You might ask, “How did Nancy stand out with all that was going on at the grocery store grand opening?” For one thing, Nancy dressed the part. She was attired in a blue straw hat, dangling red-white-and-blue earrings and vest. Her entire appearance said, “God bless America, apple pie, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and My Country ’Tis of Thee.” When people approached, she greeted them with, “Hi, I’m Nancy Robinson Masters and I’m the author of all these books.” That Dallas Cowboy linebacker only had one book to sell. He didn’t stand a chance.

I think this was the first “grand opening” that Nancy did, but she has done book signings in several of the grocery store chain’s outlets throughout the state of Texas. She managed to sign up as one of the chain’s “preferred authors.” Her goal is always to sell at least 30 books at a store and so far she has managed to do that while sitting next to the special, “buy 10, get $5.00 off on Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles.”

So the moral of this story is—look for places other than bookstores to sign books—it just might pay off.

BTW. Nancy sold 54 books that Saturday.

Contact Nancy through her web site: She’s worth having at your next writer’s conference or meeting.


  1. Wish our grocery stores had book signings, but they do well to have free samples of food occasionally.

    Wish my imagination worked when it came to having signings somewhere or presentations.

    Very interesting post.


  2. Hello, Dan!

    Nancy's is a woman after my own heart. I also have had an eclectic collection of booksigning and speaking engagement situations, and many times it's not only being prepared and being outstanding in your field, but also being able to improvise and interact with your audience. She also has the distinction of knowing what her audience wants or needs to hear. She instinctively focused on who she was speaking with and listened! I've always found listening to be the best way to meet the needs of my readers, which translates into book sales, additional speaking engagements, etc.

    You're right, the Dallas Cowboy linebacker didn't have a chance in this bookselling arena. BRAVA, Nancy!

    And a note to Vivian, if you'd like to brainstorm some ideas, I'd be glad to assist.