Square: A New Tool for Book Signings

Book CoverI’ve corresponded with a lot of different people online, and one person I’m really pleased to tease mercilessly

chat with online is Jen A. Miller, a travel writer and journalist who specializes in the REAL Jersey shore. You know, the actual shore with the awesome beaches and seafood and salt water taffy and that salt air that gives you an excellent hair day, pouf optional.

Jen’s recently released a book, and I’ve been following her booksignings and promotional efforts online. She has this neat tool she uses and I begged her to write up a review and explanation of it:

I’m an author. Not of romance (well, not yet at least), but a travel
guide to the Southern part of the Jersey Shore. I can’t tell you about plot or
narrative or how to write the heck out of the mighty wang, but I can
tell you about a little tool that can help you at book signings.

Square.

It’s a little white cube that turns your smart phone or tablet (like
an iPad) into a credit card accepting machine.

It’s stupidly easy to use. Sign up for an account at Squareup.com and
download the app onto your phone or tablet. They’ll send you a free
Square device (though if you need one RIGHT NOW, you can buy one at
the Apple store, and Square will give you a credit for the cost of the
device).

Plug it into the headphone jack of your phone and voila. You can take
credit cards. Plug in the cost, swipe the card, have your buyer sign
with their finger, and you can instantly text or email them a receipt.
Square will send the money directly into your bank account, up to
$1,000 a week (though if you’re doing more business than that, you can
negotiate with Square after you’ve been a customer for a while).

While the app and the device are free, the service is not. Square
takes 2.75% of each sale, which, if you know how much merchants pay to
accept credit cards, is nothing. Even Paypal is 2.99% plus a .$.30
transaction fee.

But I think that’s worth it. My book sells for $20. Square takes $.55
from each sale. I’ve sold books to people who wouldn’t have bought
them otherwise because they didn’t have cash at hand. But they had
credit, and now I can accept that form of payment too.


For towns without a bookstore, or with bookstores that aren’t romance friendly, this could be a very cool and easy option for authors to organize their own booksignings and events where books can be sold.  Imagine – you can set up a signing event at a bar and take credit cards from allll those impulse buyers in line for a martini! Just ask Jen – she’s done it.

Also, if you’re curious about Jen’s book, I have read it and it is adorable. It’s a great travel guide written in a supremely friendly style showing off the knowledge of someone who really does know the best locations for everything. There’s enough information to make any south Jersey vacation truly excellent.

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Random Musings

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  1. 1

    This is a very cool idea.  Getting a smart phone just become more attractive because now it would clearly be a business expense.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. 2
    Anony Miss says:

    You see, I KNEW I could justify reading this blog on my work time.
    You just totally changed my life. Awesomesauce all over the breakroom.

  3. 3
    JB Hunt says:

    She’s not only given us a great suggestion but also a terrific job description—writing the heck out of the mighty wang.

    I like that.

  4. 4
    KZoeT says:

    I love, love, love Square. It’s so easy to use and cheaper than PayPal. I’ve used it for craft fairs, holiday boutiques, a garage sale, and even to let friends pay me back for a spendy dinner when they didn’t have enough cash to split the bill.

  5. 5
    kylydia says:

    Here’s another lover of the Square app and device. I’ve used it for silent auctions (where people were willing to donate MUCH MUCH more money if they could pay via credit card) and for craft fairs and money exchaning between friends (for bridal shower gifts that a group went in on, etc.).

    It’s SO easy to use. I love it.

  6. 6
    robinjn says:

    Thank you, thank you! As a freelance graphic designer I don’t that often get payments “in person” per se; most of my clients are National. But I do have a few local clients and being able to accept a credit card will be a huge boon. I’ve already signed up and will be getting my reader in a few days.

  7. 7
    Hope C says:

    We used one for our bakery sales at the farmers market this last saturday. Super easy and works just as promised. Two thumbs waaay up!

  8. 8
    Stella Price says:

    I was at the Steampunks World’s Fair sitting next to O.M. Grey at the big book signing and she had one of these and after watching her sell three books I ordered one myself. The thing is extremely handy and since then I have been able to sell on the fly when I’m at events.
    In fact, I have been touting this to all the authors doing Authors After Dark this year that are selling carry in books. It is seriously the best gadget to come out for the smart phones ever.

  9. 9

    Just downloaded it now. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing!

  10. 10
    Ahlison says:

    And and and… ahhh rats.  Only available to Americans, will only work within the 50 states and will not accept foreign credit cards.

  11. 11
    Hydecat says:

    I know a couple of people with Square (my husband is one) and it is great. The one problem, though, is that you need a good internet connection for it to work. If you are in a location with dodgy phone/internet service, it can be frustrating. Other than that, it’s great.

  12. 12
    KellyMaher says:

    I’d heard of this a while back but didn’t think anything of it as I didn’t have a smartphone then, and don’t plan on getting one in the near future. I *do* now have an iPad, though, so that tipped it for me :D I’ll be curious if I do end up using it any time soon as I don’t really have any print books to sell on the fly.

  13. 13
    Jill says:

    I’m on the other end—the buyer—and have “used” Square three times. It’s great! And as a buyer, you have the option of getting an immediate email receipt, so the seller doesn’t have to worry about printing one out, nor you about carrying one around and losing it.

    Square is cool!

  14. 14
    Cathy B says:

    Ah yes, the American-only Square. Wish it worked here in Oz. Just as a suggestion for Aussies though, I looked into alternatives and there is a company called LiveEftpos who will send you a wireless Eftpos (credit card) machine for FREE, charge no monthly fees etc (if you ask them to – it’s in their small print that they will waive it at their discretion) and charge 2.5% on credit card transactions and 0.5% on savings/debit cards. They even take Amex and Diners!!!
    I use this ALL THE TIME because I have a home jewellery business.

    (I’m just a happy customer. Not being paid, reimbursed or in any way rewarded for loving Live Eftpos and spreading the love).

  15. 15

    My tech guy uses Square. In fact, I’m a notary and will be using it for my mobile notary business. I have an artist pal who uses Square, and I know a yarn shop in Jerome, AZ which uses Square as their credit card machine. Cheaper than going through Visa/MC/Discover and really super easy to use.

  16. 16

    I’ve used Square to sell my books at book fairs, at schools, in my hairdresser’s salon, at coffee shops! It sends a receipt to either the buyer’s email or as a text. I’m happy, my buyer’s are happy. What a great tool! Convenient, reliable and easy to use! Even someone like me, who gets flummoxed around new techie gadgets, can use it! YAY!

  17. 17
    bjvl says:

    I have a friend who sells jewelry and accessories at conventions and gatherings (like Faerie Worlds, etc.) and she was burbling on after FW about how wonderful it was and convenient and how she made more sales because she could accept “Master Card and Mistress Visa.”

    She made back her booth cost, her supplies cost and her time because she was able to accept plastic at her booth, and not require people to go to the on-site ATM and get robbed by the fees *there* and then come back to her booth….

    It’s a smart program for small businesses.

  18. 18
    Jenn LeBlanc says:

    Love Square.
    I use it for random photograph sales, art shows and selling my book while sitting at Starbucks. (I usually have a few on the table with me.)

    Love Square.

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