A week or so ago, I signed up to attend an author’s event at a local library. I had never been to an author’s event before. I was a bit intimidated.
I have one self-published book (see Falling For Your Madness on the right) and I fully understand that marketing this book is up to me. I also live in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is one of the most well-educated and well-read states in the US. You can almost swing a dead cat (not that I would actually do that) and hit a writer in Massachusetts. This state has a long, long tradition of intellectuals, poets, novelists, and other notable characters and if I’m within driving distance of Henry David Thoreau’s and Louisa May Alcott’s and Emily Dickinson’s home, my piddly offerings of a quirky romance seem lame. So I said yes. I would go to this event. I feel a bit like a rag worn Cinderella going to the ball.
Two days before my event, I asked my Facebook group (10 Minute Novelists, and you can join them with this link) what they thought I should bring with me, besides the obvious books to sell. Their suggestions? Decorations that match the theme of the book! Business cards! Bookmarks! Colored ink pens for signing. (Apparently you want colored ink, as opposed to black, because it’s harder to duplicate. Who knew?) They also suggested candy to give away, water to drink and a buddy (so I could duck into the ladies’ room.) All of these were great suggestions and this is what I came up with the day of:
My event was not quite what I thought it would be. Eighteen authors were featured, each with their own table. Most were indie authors like me. Some had created their own publishing companies. Some were nonfiction. One woman had academic books — something about the rise of minorities on Massachusetts campuses in the ’70s — that, truthfully, was never on any Christmas list of mine. Everyone, despite my preconceived notions of what writers are like, seemed to be clean, cigarette odor free, not completely dressed in black, and sober. Generally speaking, there were not any of these heady, cerebral high brows that I had equated with New England. Whew.
I had authors on either side of me. The woman on my left wrote nonfiction — folktales about cows. The man on my right had two beautiful Middle Grade adventure books, but he sat there, behind his undecorated table and played Minecraft on his phone. The three of us sold one book each. One.
I have to say, I was disappointed. It had been hard work to get this together and miss my Sunday afternoon nap. It felt, at first, very discouraging. But I then I realized something there are things I can control here and there are things I can’t. I decided right there that whatever I could control, I would give it my very best. I would knock it out of the park.
What could I control?
1. My presentation. My table looked great.
2. My attitude. I smiled and was cheerful for the entire time.
3. My engagement. I made an effort to speak to as many authors as I could. I connected with several, I passed out my business cards. I have new relationships. It could be that I’ll have future sales as a result. Mr. Minecraft didn’t engage with anyone, so all he’ll get as a result of his efforts that day is that one sale. One.
4. My gratitude. I made a special point of connecting with the librarian who organized the event. I told her about my non-fiction book that is now available for pre-order, (Write A Novel In 10 Minutes) and I even suggested that once it is released, I’d like to come and speak at the library about it, perhaps leading a seminar, teaching a class or starting a club. She loved this idea.
I left the event tired but energized. I have a vision for what to expect next time. I’ve already arranged for another event this weekend in another town. I have a new idea too. I’m going to pass out candy canes with this tag on them, and info on how to order my non-fiction book: (Which is (Write A Novel In 10 Minutes) BTW.
If there is a big lesson in marketing it’s this: You can’t control everything. But you can make the best out of what you’ve got. And sub lessons? I’m just as important as any New England cat loving, cigarette smoking alcoholic writer and I have every right to be at the ball.
What about you? What local events have you participated in? What tips do you have?