Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Square Credit Card Readers Are A Necessity For Hand Selling Books

I remember the first time I was ever invited to go to a convention. It was Gen Con, the year after Gary Gygax died. I was full of questions, and the folks who invited me to attend with them were full of helpful advice. One of the most often repeated bits of wisdom, though, was to bring a sizable chunk of cash with me in case I found something I really wanted to buy. Since the merchants were going to be in a booth in a gigantic concrete bunker, few of them would have the ability to accept credit cards, and even those who did might not be able to make the charge.

Very few merchants at this event dealt in lead.
It turns out that this was common wisdom among most convention goers. Whether you preferred gaming or comics, Renaissance Faires or historical re-enactments, you needed to have coin of the realm with you to make any purchases. Since the merchants were on the road, most of them simply didn't have the ability to charge a card from their booths.

As technology has advanced, though, this common wisdom has become less and less accurate. Thanks to better wireless Internet networks, the smartphone revolution, and credit card payments becoming easier to accept than ever before, there are few convention merchants who can't take a credit card. Cash might be cheaper, but if all you brought is plastic, then you should still be able to get that shiny thing your heart desires.

What Does This Have To Do With Being An Author?

Conventions are one of the prime places for authors to find an audience. If you're on a panel, folks in the audience might decide they want to check out your book(s). If you do a reading, then some attendees might decide they want more. Also, most conventions have signing tables where fans can come to request your signature. If they don't own a copy of your work, you can often sell them a book then sign it on the spot.

If you're limited to taking cash, though, your hand sales might not be as impressive as you're hoping. Especially if someone is interested enough to get your book, but not interested enough to go to an ATM, pay a fee, and then track you down again in order to get a copy.

And hand-selling a book is hard enough as it is.
That's why, if you're an author who goes to a lot of events, you should invest in a portable credit card reader. There are a lot of options on the market at present, but one of the most common (and most reliable, from what fellow authors I interviewed told me) is the Square Magstrip Reader.

The way this little gadget works is pretty simple. You click the link above, sign up, and the company sends you a free reader. You set it up with your account information, and then you're ready to start selling books and taking credit cards straight from your smartphone. You simply need to adjust your price to account for the 2.75 percent charge that comes with every swipe, or the 3.5 percent charge that comes with a manual entry of the card number.

Also, just to prove that we're living in the future, you can take payments with a Square while you're offline. The Square stores the record, and then once your phone gets reception, it sends out the notification that your readers need to be charged. Then the charge happens, and in a few days there's money in your bank account.

So, if you're intending on doing any events where you're selling books, and you aren't in a traditional bookstore, it can only help to have a Square on hand. Whether you're doing a library event, hosting a talk at a local college, or nailing down a spot in the dealer's hall, there's no reason to limit yourself to paper when you could just as easily take plastic as well.

As always, thanks for stopping in to get the latest advice on how to get ahead in a competitive profession. If you're curious about how well the Square works in the field, I'll add an update to this as soon as I've gotten one of my own and put it to work at a convention. If you'd like to help support me and my work, then drop by the Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today! As little as $1 per month can make a big difference when it comes to delivering content straight to your screen. Also, if you want to make sure you get the latest on all my updates, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, too.

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