Monday, September 17, 2007
Ms. Viola on Marketing your First Book
Dear Ms. Viola,
I happened upon the Shrinking Violet site today while frantically googling/searching/sweating to find a magic wand with which to help me promote my young adult fiction book. My small publisher (his company, not his stature) would like me to take the dreaded "local author" approach with bookstores around my area. I am terrified at the prospect. Is it okay for me to place a blonde wig on my 260-pound husband and have HIM do it? He is an extrovert. He is not afraid of anything (except snakes) and I think he could fit into my grandma's old dress. He could plug the book, show up for the book signings and I could stay at home in my office where I belong. If you don't think this would fly, what advice would you/could you give me to help me approach these places and still keep my hair from falling out....more?
Karen Chicken Livers Laven
Thank GOD you've contacted me! Your sign-off reminded me that I have the most superb Chicken Liver Canape recipe that I've been mad to try. Hilary is dropping by my loft this weekend for a strategizing session. The canapes will be brilliant with a peppery little California Zin. And just between us girls, Hil is having a bit of an issue with the hair dropsy as well. More on that later.
First off, lovey, we need a whole new spin on what you're calling the "dreaded local author approach." Sounds like a nasty plague. Let's turn that on it's arse, shall we, Karen? Change your language, change your world.
I feel certain JFK wouldn't mind at all if we borrowed his famous "Ask not..." charge and gave it a quick makeover: Ask not what your bookseller can do for you, but what YOU can do for your bookseller.
One can only assume, Karen, that you have written a book that you adore, and you want to share it. It is your gift to your community. They would be silly eejits not to claim you! (Can you tell I'm just in from a lovely country week in County Wexford?) . Booksellers want to sell books. See how this is a chummy little win-win? You and your booksellers want the same thing. It's even what your shorty pants publisher wants!
Robin posted a bloody marvelous blog from some booksellers recently that bears this awfully important truth home. You needn't go jelly-kneed about approaching them if remember that you are coming to help them, not coming to ask them to work for you. You must be madly creative to have written this book, so leverage darling, leverage! Make that work for you! What genuis way can you come up with to help get your book out there and moving?
Here's an idea from the top of my shiny raven locks. (No dropsy here!) On the day or week your book comes out, you might want to go to your local indie and take some cookies or tea (or canapes) for the staff, and host a drawing for three or five free books or ARCs. You could set up a lovely display near the counter, even just drop it off. Patrons could simply drop their business card or name and number in the bowl. It's easy peasy for the staff, plus they get treats. You get off the hook. You create a buzz. Local Author. New Book. Contest. Repeat by all the stores you can hit in a day, or a week.
Take a few moments to pat yourself silly on the back and drive to your local library and high school. Donate a signed copy and leave a treat for the hardworking librarian(s). Nothing too sticky, mind you. Those girls are militant about that.
And, buddy up, lovey! Who else might you know that has a book coming out at the same time? What might the two of you be able to do together?
All right now, all you Violet and Vinnies out there. I want to hear from every single one of you on Karen's behalf. What ideas do you have for the poor lamb? While I do relish the idea of her husband in her grandma's knickers and a blonde wig, I don't want Karen one single moment of joy that a book launching brings. You're about to birth this delicious baby, please don't let your self miss out on any of the celebration.
Love and hugs,