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Monday, August 18, 2014

A2R Marketing: Author Events-What Kind and What to Expect

It's never a bad time when you are out and about meeting readers and other writers. Different events allow for different types of interactions. If you're new to the Book Push thing, take a look below to see what you might expect.

Public Library Author Events:

Many public libraries have thriving patron outreach and community event programs. As part of their social contract with their communities, the acceptance of tax dollars for support means they will provide free events in return. Sometimes it's a structured event where the authors give a brief talk on a specific topic or their current work to a seated audience. Other times the authors have tables set up where the readers are encouraged to peruse books and have one-on-one time with each author. The public is welcome to stop by, chat and purchase a book or two. Both types of programs are terrific for readers and writers to meet one another and share stories. These events draw a larger crowd since the libraries provide some promotion and advertising, and each invited author will help with the promotion through their own marketing efforts. 

Public libraries are often welcoming to the individual author who would like to have a solo reading event. This is a great idea for someone looking to launch a book and need to get their feet wet with some experience before pushing out into a bigger venue like book stores and expos.

Book Stores:

Book stores, especially independent ones, are often quite happy to host an author event. Many are a thriving center of their community's cultural scene and are a hub for information and promotion. These can be a win/win situation. The author gets exposure to readers and the store enjoys an increase in traffic. For the stores, more people means more chances for sales. 

Like libraries, the event can be a formal night with a reading and talk by the author or it can be as simple as setting up a table with a stack of books on a Saturday afternoon. The store may have a preference when hosting a new author as to what night they will schedule. An author with a known following with several books out will most likely get a Thursday or Friday night, bigger crowd drawing dates. A newer or less experienced author will get a day earlier in the week to help draw shoppers out on less trafficked days, like a Monday or Tuesday. Saturdays are a gamble, but the store will know their market and any potentially competing events that could draw shoppers away. 

Also, the store may host panels where they feature a specific genre, like a mystery night, and have several authors speak. These usually draw bigger crowds for the store and they are great for an author looking to increase their visibility. Smaller stores will take copies of your book on consignment and will pay a standard percentage when they sell. 

I LOVE my local Jabberwocky Books and have a secret crush on the New England Mobile Book Fair, where I'll have a Saturday meet-n-greet in September.

Larger stores are more stringent with their events. I know of one regional chain that requests a fee upfront in order to get shelf space and an author night. Larger chains just want to make sure they can purchase your books through their regular channels for inventory control and may not have a procedure for consignment. Having a title that is considered "returnable" is appealing as they know that if the books do not sell, they are not out any money.

Author and Book Expositions and Festivals:

These are becoming increasingly popular. They can be sponsored by promoters of a specific genre, like Connecticut's Horror Fest, or can be regional, like the New England Author's Exposition. They can also be HUGE, like Book Expo America. At these events, authors may purchase a booth or table for the length of the conference, anywhere from one to three days. Costs can vary widely, so decide if you are going as a money making venture to sell cases of books or as a promotional gesture to increase awareness of your name.

If you are doing a festival or a local event, make sure your display generates excitement. Take some time and put effort into your visual presentation. The picture above tells a visual story even before I've started to speak.

Affinity Event Marketing:

I'm a big fan of these. Affinity marketing is finding a group of people who may be interested in your book for a different reason. Maybe it's your alma mater's homecoming weekend eager to showcase what several of its alumni are up to, or maybe its a NASCAR race where one of the vendors is happy to provide a table for your mystery book that features dirt track racing. I find these events to be really worthwhile because you are not competing with other books or authors and are tapping into another love of your reader aside from, well, reading. I spent the weekend by the grandstands at the Silver Oak Grand Prix. I sold a ton of books and met a lot of fans!

Private Book Clubs:

I always offer to attend book clubs. The miracle of Skype has helped me attend clubs as far away as Alaska. That's pretty good considering I'm in Boston. Readers are thrilled to host an author, and a shared event with friends is a memorable event for all. I will meet in their homes if they are local, otherwise, a restaurant, town hall, library or Council on Aging works well, too. Always bring a few copies of your books. Even if they've read your book via the library exchange, most readers love a chance to have a signed book in their collection.

Below are some pictures from a recent event at the Haverhill Public Library. Take a look, I'm sure you'll see someone you know - or should know! My picture from that day is above. Take a look at the displays to see what type of visual statement you feel comfortable making.

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, The Art of Floating, and Holly Robinson, Beach Plum Island, both Penguin authors, holding copies of their new work.

Myfanwy Collins, Echolocation and I am Holding Your Hand collection of short stories, Engine Books. Keep your eyes out for her upcoming, Book of Laney.

Dale T. Phillips has over twelve titles to his name. He's pictured here with Chris Obert of Pear Tree Publishing.

Barbara Kent Lawrence, author of An Island of Time


 Ursula Wong, author of Purple Trees

Rory O'Brien, author of Gallows Hill

Paul Janson, author of Mal Practice


Rich Feitelberg, Aure the Topaz

Susan LaFortune, Talking in My Sleep

Group shot!

More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Writer's Block? Start by looking out a window.

Sometimes the scourge of writer's block can be banished just by looking out a window.

I was lucky enough to travel to Beijing on business trip and took some time to walk the Great Wall of China. I snapped the picture above and remember wondering how cool would it be if that was the view outside my office window.

Like most writers, my office is in my home. My commute is comprised of shuffling into the kitchen for coffee, seeing the remnants of the feeding frenzy my teens went on after I went to bed, and plunking down at my desk. A whopping fifty foot journey. Then I stare out my window until the caffeine kicks in.

This view is much more pedestrian than the Great Wall. It's of a big oak tree that was mammoth-sized even before we bought the house. From this tree hangs my children's rope swing and a birdfeeder, allegedly of the squirrel proof variety. Both the swing and the birdfeeder are empty.

As I marvel at the blink of time the swing was in full use, I'm struck that the views out both windows are deceptively simple. It's just a wall or it's just a swing, but there are stories and truths worth exploring.

In Anne Lamott's book of writing, Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life, she talks about finding inspiration in the everyday and building the muscles of writing by starting small. By looking through a small frame, describe first what is there and then ask questions about why it is there or how it came to be.

My fingers stilled not from the terror of the blank screen, but from the flood of memories and musings about the roads not taken.

I'll take the view outside my office window - and all of its joys and pains - over the Great Wall's view any day.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Author to Reader (A2R): Stories of Real Life - Interviews

My favorite way to engage with readers is face-to-face at the variety of events I do. That way, I can answer their questions directly and provide them with the context and information they're looking for. The picture above shows fellow Sisters in Crime authors Edith Maxwell and Tempa Pagel at a recent New England Author's Expo put on by Pear Tree Publishing. In lieu of that, I really enjoy interviews in all their various forms. 

I've been pleased to have been invited to do interviews on different blogs and pod casts. I'd like to share them with you.

Dale T. Phillips is a New England based novelist, poet and mystery and crime writer. I really admire his ability to find time to write and to be an excellent promoter of not only his own works, but the works of other authors. He really understands the concept of "pay it forward" and creates a very loyal following of trusting fans. Dale and I are members of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime. We met at an author event at the Chelmsford Public Library and he asked me to do a blog interview. I loved the questions he asked as they were not the same old, well worn variety. His questions made me think and I've had readers say they learned a lot from the insights he pulled forth. 

Penny de Byl is a new voice in the blog tour interview world, but has a thriving career and a wonderful blog you should all check out. It's not every day that you get to be somebody's "First," but that's exactly what I was to Penny. She launched a new feature on her blog, Five Minute Profiles, and asked me to be her first featured author. You can read the interview here.

Author First Radio did a terrific pod cast interview. I really enjoyed this host and felt he brought out a lot of interesting points that readers and writers enjoyed.

Reader outreach can take on a lot of different forms. There is no magic bullet, no one "right" way of doing things. Find what works for you and your readers and do it!

More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.