Friday, October 23, 2015

Making Contacts

Whether you want to write for the sake of becoming a best selling author, you want to build a brand and work for yourself or just get a story down on paper so those pesky characters will finally leave you alone, gaining exposure once the book is published is a key part of the process. I have tried a number of things to get my name out there but had little success until my most recent venture.

I did the online cover reveal and release party thing but because I do not have thousands of followers the turn out was minimal. I tried sharing it in different groups but still only a nibble on the interest line. So, knowing I am better at live events, I planned a signing at one of my favorite local bakeries. It was supposed to be held on a Saturday afternoon but there was a conflict and I was moved to Friday. Because of peoples work schedules only a few friends were able to make it and the lack of advertising meant only the Friday afternoon foot traffic in the tiny shopping plaza would even know I was there.

Lesson one learned, location and time are extremely important for a live event. Technically lesson two as well, advertising is a must! That creates a small issue though when you work part time and cannot afford to take out ads on radio, tv and in the newspaper. I did contact the Las Vegas Review Journal who agreed to mention the signing as well as do a spotlight but the mention was buried in the middle and the spotlight appeared months after the event. Still determined though I decided to set up my own mini book tour. I went back to Michigan where family and friends would be around and could help spread the word. 

I signed at a local bookstore though once again timing, this time combined with torrential down pouring rain caused the lack of turn out. That night I had an area of a trendy restaurant in downtown Lansing set aside and we had food friends and wine flowing so it was quite successful. The last one was at a craft fair where I had a booth for the weekend. I did surprisingly well for not knowing what I was getting into but there were still some takeaways I could use to improve. I need to start as early as possible letting people know about the events and then remind them. The flyers my boyfriend created were invaluable to getting the word out and I have continued to use them. And I had believed that the fact only two authors were present at the craft fair had helped me because I was not in direct competition.

That theory changed this past weekend when I attended and set up my booth at the Vegas Valley Book Festival. I was not only directly competing with other authors but sitting in the same plaza as those in my same genre. Some of them had awards and multiple books available while I only had two for sale. I did have bookmarks that matched the books as well as charity wristbands but I feared my movie status would shine in such a competitive environment making me look like a fool. It didn't take long to figure out that I was there to sell but even more to network. I met illustrators, artists, award recipients and companies that give the awards. I spoke with magazines as well as a television crew out interviewing authors. I discussed conferences and was invited to another festival to showcase my work. The sales were nice but most important lesson to date learned, always look for the opportunity to network and make new connections!

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