Thursday, April 23, 2009

Call me Compulsive

On the advice of Billie and her other authors, I entered into the blogosphere where I became immediately lost and disoriented. No problem; I feel that way every time I go to Chicago. At, I read about a writer (and small publisher) who did a tour through New Mexico to promote his book, Roswell or Bust, a sci-fi book for young readers. I was amazed that the tour consisted entirely of what salespeople term ‘cold calls’. Henry would just walk into a bookstore or gift shop and ask if he could leave books on consignment or, failing that, leave flyers about the book. He found a few takers, three books on consignment here, a handful of fliers there, a library that accepted a free copy for their stacks, etc. He’s an intrepid fellow and I enjoyed reading about his trip, but I can’t imagine actually doing that. You see, I believe that people who believe if you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves end up in the poorhouse with big glass jars full of pennies. I believe people who start a journey with one small step don’t go very far. I want long strides and big denomination bills. So I’m trying to maximize my New Mexico signing tour by having all events booked well in advance, by having the local paper in each signing venue do a timely review of the book, by sending sample books and posters in advance so that people can see the book and the poster can be in the window before I get there. But what if Henry had it right? What if all my planning comes to naught? What if I discover I’d have done just as well to throw the books in the backseat and start driving? I’ll let you know in Vegas.


F. M. Meredith, author said...

Your idea is better. One thing I've learned about leaving books on consignment, is often you never get paid. I've done much better with a gift shop in town. They send me a check every single month.

Do let us know how it all turns out. Sounds exciting. I know Joe Konrath has done similar type book tours and that's how he got his following.

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Sunny Frazier said...

There's no one way to go about marketing. You want newspapers to review your books? I write community press releases for mine. You don't think pennies turn into dollars? I volunteer and I've got two towns and a library backing me. They are throwing me a book launch at the museum. Generousity is rewarded more than self-interest. An author can stick with old systems and ideas, but smart authors look for the unusual and unique opportunities.

BillieJohn said...

I think planning is better too! I think the reason stories like Henry's make news is because they are unusual, not the typical outcome. For every Henry, I'm betting there are dozens and dozens of authors whose spontaneous, roam-around tour, while probably fun, didn't do much for book sales or to garner name recognition. Besides, I always think it is better and easier to make a plan and then flex away from it if that seems desirable than it is to try that in reverse.

Another rather unpleasant upshot of just meandering around leaving books is that the shops often just send them back to Ingram, thus getting a credit for books they didn't pay for in the first place. Galling to say the least.

Consignment works best when the consginee is in your backyard and you can stop in and check on the stock, say HI! to the merchant and so on. As Marilyn points out, too often you just don't get paid. This is why I avoid it.

And Sunny is right promotion is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each author has to find his own style, what feels right, what works for your book, your area, your circumstances.


Pat Browning said...

Been there, done that. Spent hundreds of dollars, made zip. Good luck!

Pat Browning
Krill Press 2008