In the month of May, we’re talking about Magical Marketing.
Today’s post is the account of what happened to me when I was invited to attend a local book club gathering.
If my only goal was to sell books, then you could say I failed. But if my goal to was present myself authentically to strangers, practice generosity and take chances, then it was an overwhelming success.
Last February, I showed up at a local book club with copies of my book in my hand. Naturally I was nervous.
I knew that no matter what happened, it would make for a good story and either I would come out as marketer of the year or it would be a complete disaster. Either way would make for good entertainment, and that’s really my only goal in life.
A little backstory: I was invited to this event because I had met the hostess, Janice, at my local town’s Yuletide Celebration in December. The Yuletide event required that I set up a table, pass out cards, and just try to make a presence with the locals. I sold exactly one book, but I did meet a lot of people.
My success that day came from the fact that my display was beautiful, over 50 people approached me to talk, I passed out dozens of cards and gave a copy of my book to my local librarian, Nancy.
(And saw yesterday that Nancy had shelved it in the New Titles area at my local branch!)
Janice is a curator at a local museum. She and I chatted about books and wondered if my book would make a good choice for her club. I know that she gave me her contact information that day, but when I looked for it in January, I couldn’t find it.
Two weeks ago, she contacted me and asked me if I would like to donate copies of my book for a museum fundraiser. (I said yes to that!) I also asked her, “aren’t you the one with the book club? Could you give me more information about it?” Her response: “Why don’t you join us at my home? Bring your book with you.”
So that’s what got me there.
It does feel weird, I must say, to have your husband drop you off at a home you’ve never been too (and you can’t see from the road because of all the snow). And you’re not really sure what is behind that front door.
I rang the doorbell and immediately heard two dogs barking. (Allergies! Achoo!! ) But Janice came to the door, put her dogs away and welcomed me in.
I was the first to arrive, which is always awkward. But she gave me a glass of wine (!) and introduced me to her husband. This is also awkward.
But you know, everybody has something to say. You ask about dogs, or kids, or their home or something and people talk.
Soon another guest arrived. This woman, Martha, came in and she was lively and fun and she asked me about my book. (!!!) That’s when I got to tell her about my journey of being a 10 Minute Writer and then FFYM and then becoming a 10 Minute Novelist and my book coming out in March. (This is when they thought being a writer is as unique as walking on the moon. I just let them think that.)
Then our next guest arrived. Her name was Jan and I had met her too at the Yuletide event. Our conversations then went to snow and Boston and they discovered that I’m not a native and then I had to give them the 60 second version of the story of how me and my husband met on America Online in 1995. That impressed them too.
By the time I got to the five kids part, they thought I was pretty amazing. Or, I could be mistaken. I was on my second glass of wine.
I asked them about the book club. It turns out that this club is an informal group of women who have met monthly for over 10 years! They have no formal membership, they just kind of come and go and choose books kind of randomly. (They had never heard of Goodreads!!!) They went through their mental list of members and decided no one else was coming. They also realized that only our hostess had actually read the assigned book. (I got the first 3 chapters for free!) I asked them what was the best book that they read recently, and everyone lit up when Gone Girl was mentioned. Oh! I said. That was such an interesting, disturbing book, we all agreed. Then Janice suggested forget actual book discussion — let’s watch Gone Girl instead! Oh, and who wants more wine?
So that’s what we did. We had cheese, crackers, cake and wine, and I watched a movie with three strangers.
I did give a copy of FFYM to Janice and she’s going to read it and tell the group about it. Then, we got comfortable by the fire and watched the movie. The best part of it was that all of us had read the book and we knew what was happening, my husband wasn’t there so I didn’t have to explain anything, and Rosamund Pike creeped the heck out of me.
When it was all over, after 11:00, (and I had only two minor coughing fits from my allergies) Martha took me home because she lives a block from me.
They liked me. They like me not because I was an author, they liked me for me!
Janice encouraged me to promote my books at the museum events.They want me to be a regular club member. I didn’t leave with cash in my hand, but I did leave with the beginnings of new friendships.
This got me to thinking. Marketing isn’t something you do to sell your book.
Marketing is life.
Marketing is opening yourself up to new opportunities, saying YES, not being afraid to ring that doorbell and hear dogs barking, asking questions, being honest and open and not really caring if you mess it up.
Now if I hadn’t gone to the Yuletide Celebration because it was too hard, I wouldn’t have been in Janice’s home last night watching a movie. Who knows what will happen next? Who knows what I’ll learn from these women, what books I’ll read or what opportunities I get.