(12:00 PM PDT, September 18, 2006)
Yeah, well, so do I!
of the sun, surf and serenity I so desperately wanted, I spent my
summer locked up in my writing garrett (right, like I'm Emily Dickinson
or something) putting pen to paper. Hopefully in a few weeks' time I'll
know if my efforts–two very different novels– have paid off. (In
other words, that some savvy editor has paid up!)
Publish, then Promote–or Perish!
the meantime, I refuse to angst over it. Instead, I'll put my head down
and crank out proposals on some of the other stories in the hope that
those, too, will find their way onto a bookshelf near you in the coming
I say "years" because, if you don't know it already,
nowadays it takes at least a year and a half to get a book into
print–and that doesn't include the time it takes to first write the
book (or the book proposal), find an agent, listen carefully to your
agent's edit suggestions (very important to the process, because if you
aren't excited about tweaking it, then your agent will be less than
excited about pitching it to publishing editors.
glorious day comes when your book does appear in stores, you then have
the added task of promoting the book. And woe be it to the author who
leaves that to their publishing house! You are–and will always be–its
best cheerleader . . .
That's the advice I give any newbie author who asks. In fact, just this past week I got an email from my friend, Kit Frazier, who was having her very first booksigning for her debut novel, SCOOP,
and was looking for advice as to how to make it a success. Just showing
up and taking bows won't cut it, believe me. Here are few tips that
will make all those hours you've spent toiling away in that attic worth
1. Take an active role in the promotion of the event.
Most authors leave this to the bookstore, and then find out on the back
end that, for whatever reason, the event was poorly (or worse yet, not
even) promoted. This is because few booksellers are trained on media
relations/press management That said, send out a release on the event
at least six weeks in advance. In fact, many publications need that
kind of lead time. Your who/what/when/where/what-time missive should
go to every media outlet (newspaper, weekly tabloid,
TV, radio, regional magazine) within a 100-mile radius. Most of these
will take an e-release. You can find the correct email address to send
it to, by going onto the publication's website and looking under
"calendar listings," "book editor," "features editor," "lifestyle
editor," or the "Contact" subpage…
You can also find this info at:
2. Get to your event at least 20 minutes early.
That way you can introduce yourself to the store manager or the person
in charge of running the event, and to look at the set-up of where you
are speaking. If you don't like what you see, now is the time to make
suggestions. Usually they are amenable to whatever you'll want.
3. Make sure you have signage showcasing your name, book title, and signing date/time. Ideally, the bookstore has already set up some kind of signage that lists this info–but don't count on it. I
alway make a 3×2 ft foamcore-backed poster of my book cover, and then
double-back tape a smaller eyecatching sign onto it somewhere that
says: "Author Signing Today, at (TIME)." I also have made 6-inch arrow
that points in the right direction….
4. Stack the books in front of you, cover out. And bring bookmarks that showcase your book.
Place the bookmarks in all your books. In those precious few minutes
prior to the event, introduce yourself to everyone who has shown up. If
you run out of people to introduce yourself to, don't be shy. Walk the
aisles. Tap the shoulders of those who look as if they could be your
ideal reader, then hand them a bookmark and say, "Hi, I'm Author
So-And-So, and in a few minutes I'll be reading from my new book,
TITLE. It's a fun mystery/fun romp/suspense. Hope you'll come hear me."
Even if they don't, at least they have a bookmark, and they will REMEMBER YOU AND THE NAME OF YOUR BOOK.
5. Give a great "theatrical" read.
This is where almost every author I know falls down: THEY DO LOUSY
READS. Almost as if they are back in 4th grade, and have been called on
by the teacher to read a poem that they wrote, and aren't sure of…
BE your characters. Pause in all the right places. And certainly practice before hand.
was info I got from a guy who came to a reading of myself and three
other authors….and critiqued us all! Hey, it ain't fun to hear that
you rush your words and don't give them any feeling…but if you learn
by your mistakes, you'll attract all those people walking down the
aisles or standing to the sidelines.. THE GOAL IS TO SELL BOOKS. If
that means wearing the shoes that inspired you, or embodying your
characters, then so be it….
6. Be sure to initiate and Question and Answer session.
This allows your "fans" to see a whole different side of you. And they
ask intelligent questions that allow you to elaborate on your
characters, you inspirations, your process….even the mundane aspects
of your life. If you become real to them, then your books become their
7. Sign every copy of your book in the store.
Your pub house will tell you that most bookstores return even signed
copies. However, many booksellers like to hold onto signed copies,
since readers prefer them. This way, your books will stay on the shelf
longer than they might if the copy weren't signed.
8. Bring "Signed by the Author" stickers.
Use the store's stickers if they have them, on the front of the book.
But double up by putting yours on the spine of the book. That way, if
it ends up on a shelf, spine out, it has an edge over an unsigned book.
Now go out and buy some books (preferably mine),