Sunday, May 08, 2005

Florida launch: efforts result in a great book event

Sometimes we plan an event and things just come together. The community relations manager for Books-A-Million really put forth an effort to help make my Saturday event a success. She's truly a friend to small press authors. She and I worked closely together for over 2 months. My publisher and I came up with ideas, and I learned several important things about a super signing.

It helps that the store is a sensational bookstore--big, lots of natural light, busy. Here are some other elements that made my Florida launch a definite success:

1. Publicity: display ads don’t need to be big, but positioning counts. Ask the publication about placing your ad in as visible a position as possible. We opted for the community weekly and Northeast Florida’s widely distributed alternative paper Folio Weekly. FW, one of the top alternative papers in the nation, really delivers a bang for your buck. Plus the folks on staff are very nice. I also made bookmarks with the event info and I handed those out over a one-month period prior to the event.

2. Writeups about the book: a definite bonus. This isn’t something an author can really orchestrate. My publisher sent out several news releases and this resulted in follow-ups from reporters. Three reporters did stories because of the book’s human interest angle and because of the widespread interest in health-related matters.

3. Author efforts: I emailed 35 selected people on my newsletter list. I chose individuals I know personally. I asked them to assist me in a grassroots campaign to simply let people they knew in the area I’d be signing my book. I had info about the event on my Net pages several months prior to the event. Wherever I spoke, or whenever I socialized, I mentioned the event. Three weeks prior, I sent the newsletter to my full list of around 300 recipients with information about the first three events for Killing Earl. During the events, I always stand and I always greet people politely, even if they just walk on by. It’s business, not personal. So if a person doesn’t respond, it doesn’t bother me. It helps that I like people and rarely meet a stranger.

4. Bookstore support: BAM put up my posters, created a flier for stuffing in bags prior to my event, and made regular announcements during the event. The announcements really helped; I was amazed at this because it’s the first time I’d experienced the benefit. The staff making the announcements used promo copy to blurb my book; the announcements were sort of like a 30-second radio spot. Worked wonders. I was at the interior mall entrance to the store and that was a great position because customers saw my poster, book, and table first.

5. Support materials: I took my bookmarks. They include several web site links related to my book’s subject and also my own Net site. Even if someone doesn’t buy the book on site, they may keep the bookmark. I always put a small basket of hard (wrapped) candy on the table. That’s really my only table decoration other than the bookmarks and books. I’m Southern, and we have an obsession about hospitality. I don’t think the candy has a lot to do with sales, but it’s a nice touch and it looks pretty on the table.

Hope these are useful to other authors. Today was a sensational day for my book. I’ll have a small break next week to clear my desk, work on publicity for summer events, and continue to work on my new book as well as articles for magazines. I may even take a day off!


Nick said...


I like the professionalism that you have incorporated in what seems to me to be a concerted effort between yourself and your publisher to launch this book. You don't seem to leave much to chance.

It seems to me like a daunting task. In fact even reading my poetry in front of an audience seems at times daunting to me. It's interesting to read about aspects of being a published author which I'm not totally familiar with. Thanks for providing the detailed info.


Kay Day said...

Nick, the last 2 years have been like a second education for me. Sometimes I think I should write a book about it.

On reading for an audience, that took me awhile to enjoy, even though I'm outgoing. Once I did it a few times, I began to relax and have fun with it.

Glad to see you here; you must have ESP. I was about to hop to your site and comment on your poem. --best,Kay