Monday, October 16, 2006

Schmoozing

Writing, it has been said of late, is the easy part. It’s what you must do after the book is done that can be a real bitch! Schmoozing … a process of interacting with the industry. Authors MUST learn this ancient art. A necessary piece of the public relations puzzle in book promotion!

Most hate it … I enjoy it. Never having a shy bone in my body, I’m very much at home meeting new people. But if you’d rather slit your wrists than leave the comfort of your computer desk, then you need to find a way to motivate yourself … have deep pockets to hire it done … or hope your publisher thinks you’re the next J.K. Rowling and your book will outsell the Bible while they throw all caution to the wind and spend umpteen thousands of dollars to promote your work. Well, hmmm, I suppose it’s the dream of all authors … but unfortunately, not the reality. So buck up literati, learn how to smile, put on some nice clothes, take a speaking class, network and get out there!

And here’s the thing, new authors … even if your publisher agrees to put you on the road, making your connections for you, bookstores, TV appearances, radio spots, etc. it’s usually not for more than two to three weeks. You have little input, and when that blitz is over … it over. The rest is up to you. Be prepared to put your own publicity plan into motion. Two, three, even a month of constant publicity is not enough. Sorry to burst your bubble. Enough said.

We left North Carolina at 7 a.m. Our first stop on the way to Memphis landed us in Knoxville. Carpe Librum … classy, older store. I met the two owners just briefly. Friendly and welcoming I felt a warm sense they were truly interested in my book … they seemed to recognize the cover and both owners appeared to be very supportive to authors. I noticed many new titles on their shelves … the store was polished, yet a place where I imagined many in the community relaxing or searching for their next interesting read. I look forward to visiting that store in the future. Busy street, great store front, all around fantastic store.

A bonus store, one we didn’t have information on, but noticed across the street … Hargreaves … a new store only 8 months old. Their titles are not all the same as Carpe Librum, but the store owners were pleasant, even their dogs – two Corgi’s whose names escape me. They (the store owners, not the dogs) took my information with enthusiasm. (A press kit made up especially for this trip.) They said they would read the book and contact me … I’m happy with that.

Speaking of “shops around the corner,” we went in search of our next bookstore, The Shop Around The Corner (conjures up the You’ve Got Mail movie, doesn’t it?) … but alas, it was nowhere to be found. Either gone out of business, or so well hidden only the locals know of its location. NOTE to authors … if you’re seeking out the next bookstore to visit, check the web. If they don’t have a web site, chances are they’re not in business or haven’t the first clue as to promoting their store (or you.)

Off to Athens, Tennessee and in search of Village Book Shoppe. Two sweet ladies behind the counter, one the owner … seemed somewhat interested. Kind of hard to read, but the store was bright and friendly, and I always come away with high hopes.

Next stop on Wednesday was A Novel Idea … a store in Chattanooga. Great location, college area, quaint shops and at first, I wasn’t sure if it was just a store that sold only used books, but upon entering I could see they had a new book section. Great old store with lots of character. High ceilings, old plank floors that creaked, and a sweet storeowner that worked her own counter. (I love that.) I shook her hand …

“I’m on my way to the Southern Festival of Books in Memphis, stopping by book stores on the way, I’d like to introduce myself and my book …”

“Oh yes, I’ve seen this somewhere … were you at SIBA?”

“Why, yes …” And the conversation is off and running! You can do this too!

The next bookstore involved a trip up a winding, rather scary (yet beautiful) road on a side of a mountain to a town called Signal Mountain in search of Wild Hare Books. Owner, Judy, greeted Michael and I with a bright and cheery hello and a smile. Her tiny store was an obvious force in her community. My eyes immediately caught sight of the shelves for Southern writers! … and we clicked. I anticipate hearing from Judy in the future!

Lunch at Corkys Barbeque in Knoxville (traffic was horrible in Knoxville.) Corkys’ bbq … okay … certainly wasn’t Carter Brothers. Dinner … not worth mentioning … fast and cheap we were too tired to care and just crashed at a fast Italian food place before following bread crumbs back to our hotel and falling into bed.

Tune in tomorrow for the next days adventures of Mike and Pam’s trip to the wilds of Tennessee and the even wilder hunts for book stores! And then there’s the trip to Ingram and Lightning Source … What a tour!

Blessings to you and yours.

1 comment:

Dena said...

This is fascinating! Keep it coming.