I live in a very small town but occasionally people do cool things here. Yesterday I had another book signing event at a store called The Jungle. This is one of the nicest stores in St. Paul. The owner, Alice, graciously set this up to promote my new book Sir Princess Petra - The Pen Pieyu Adventures.
Alice made this a very special day by having an old english tea party with antique china, and pastry goodies. She advertised on our local cable T.V. channel, put an add in the local paper and set up a boardwalk sign with enticing, fluttering balloons in -12C weather. There was live, old-time music provided by Anne (my mom) and Jerry, who both play in a band together. Still, people do not flock in to see a local writer.
I sincerely thank Alice, her staff, Allen, Judith, Ellen, Shauna, Sandy, Mrs. Kitt, Linda, Anne, Jerry, Dezi, Kiyah, Izzak and all the other people that showed up to chat with me.
I sold 15 books at this event, which is still higher than the average amount my marketing manager says is the status quo for signing events (their statistics quote 5 - 8 books per event). But these are my local people that know me, so I was expecting more people to show up and just savour the atmosphere of this unique event in a small town. As Suzanne said in her last blog comment: if you expect it, it won't happen--if you don't expect it, bigger things happen. Lesson learned.
Being a writer and trying to promote a book is a hard business. I work full time at a dental office, but I do see my book promotion as a serious business, also. My book is well marketed in the U.S. since the publisher is from Oklahoma, but the publisher doesn't have a lot of ties with the Canadian market anymore (there is a lot of bureaucracy in that issue that I won't get into now). So ultimately, this leaves me with a tremendous amount of work trying to get the word out here.
My strategy is focusing on Alberta first. I am getting the word out there by contacting local schools first (I'll venture further in the future) to do a book reading/signing/sales. I am not charging an appearence fee yet, but rather asking the schools to send out a newletter before the event to notify parents that books will be for sale at the reading. This worked very well for my first school visit. The schools are receptive to this concept of promoting me since there is no cost to them to have me there.
I have also made friends with a few librarians. These people are treasures to know. They let their other librarian friends know about writers they like and this in turn gets a bigger ball rolling.
I have two more school visits booked in the near future, and I'll let you know how those go and if my strategy is working.
To fellow newly published authors, don't be discouraged at how slowly the marketing process works, but rather, jump in there. Whether you have a marketing manager, as I do, or are on this venture solo, throw yourself into the job full-heartedly and never, never give up.
To those of you still trying to get that first publishing contract, know this, my first book took nine years of researching the market, sending out query letters, waiting for replies, one really close acceptance if I was willing to change this book into a math adventure (which I wasn't) ,and one signed contract before this one that didn't pan out due to the U.S. ecomony downfall in 2009 whereas that publisher had to forfeit the contract due to lack of funds. So to you, the aspiring authors of the world, my advice to you is, never, never, never give up.
The road is long and hard, but you don't get there if you don't walk it.
Diane Mae Robinson