Selling books is great; making an impression is even better

image By Ned Hickson

Two years ago tomorrow, I attended my first book fair as an author. Today, I’m going to share that experience in a post I’m calling:

Reasons to Hide Liquor Under Your Book Fair Table

Admittedly, it’s very exciting to walk into a room of 50 or so booths with publishers and authors offering their latest releases and services. And when you see your own booth tucked among them, with your book cover on display and a large photo of yourself hanging on the wall behind your table, you can’t help but pause and quietly think: I have arrived as an author and, judging by its size, my nose arrived about an hour before I did. My point is that book fairs are about taking the opportunity to become three-dimensional to readers and making a connection beyond the printed page; it’s about revealing yourself to people in ways that are spontaneous, real and unrehearsed, and giving them an experience they can take with them and talk about with others. This led to another realization almost simultaneously: Why is there no liquor at this thing?

This notion was underscored moments later, when a woman appearing to be in her mid-60s approached my booth and began telling me how much she loved my writing, almost to the point it was becoming a little embarrassing. “I NEVER miss your column!” she declared. “Really — If it wasn’t for your column, I doubt I would even subscribe to the Register-Guard!”

In my mind, I began pouring two fingers into a shot glass. Why?

“Um, I write for Siuslaw News,” I said with an awkward smile. “I think you’re talking about Bob Welch. He’s got a table right over there.”

“…Oh… I see.”

In that moment, if there had been an actual shot glass on the table, I’m pretty sure she would have taken it from me, chugged it, wiped her lips with one of my bookmarks and gone to see Bob Welch. Instead, she stood immobilized and looking for a gracious exit.

“OK, actually I am Bob Welch,” I said. “I killed Ned Hickson and have assumed his identity to expand my writing empire. If you don’t tell anyone, you can help yourself to one of my books over there.” I pointed to Welch’s booth, which was unmanned but stacked with copies of My Oregon, Pebble in the Water and others. “If anyone asks, tell them Bob sent you,” I said, and winked.

The woman who I came to know as Joan, smiled. “So… who did you say you write for again?”

Those words led to my first book sale of the day, and understanding the importance of meeting readers face-to-face, even if yours wasn’t the face they were looking for. During the course of six hours at my booth, I met lots of people who had no idea who I was, many of whom were drawn to my keen marketing strategy…

As you can imagine, the corners went very fast...

As you can imagine, the corners went very fast…

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Swamp Ghosts Meet the Author Tours, Please Share!

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Come have fun on the  St. John’s  River! Meet Marcia Meara, best-selling Amazon author of #SwampGhosts,  on Saturday, April 25 or Tuesday, April 28. Tours depart Highbanks Marina in DeBary at 1:30PM.

Experience the eco tour that inspired the book, accompanied by the real life counterparts of Maggie Devlin and Gunnar Wolfe. Enjoy the peace, beauty, and wildlife of the  St. Johns river, and enter to win a $50 gift basket, containing, among other things, Books 1 and 2 of Marcia’s Wake-Robin Ridge series. Don’t miss out! Book your Swamp Ghosts Meet the Author tour today.

Swamp Ghosts Meet the Author Tours:
Saturday, April 25, 1:30PM
Tuesday, April 28, 1:30PM

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St. Cloud Author Symposium

 

mesmallMe, Pretending to Be A Real, Non-Sick Author

Went to my first Author Symposium and Book Signing yesterday, even though I was still dragging around in a semi-stupor of lingering exhaustion resulting from my five-week battle with the flu. I won, though you can’t tell it to look at me!  I have to say that even though I wasn’t functioning at 100%, I had a wonderful time, and got to meet some super nice people that I hope to stay in touch with.

For some reason, author Eldon G. Brown and I had to share a very teeny-tiny table, which wreaked havoc with my carefully planned display (most of which stayed in my tote bags), but we made do. We’re authors. When something goes awry, you just yell, “Plot twist!” and forge ahead, right?

Eldon has written several books, available on Amazon. I was really intrigued by Dead Girl in a Charleston Marsh. (You gotta love that title. No, seriously. You gotta.) And the cover is great, too. Check it out!

Next to us was author Louis K. Lowy, a really friendly guy with what looks like a pretty funny book, available on Amazon, as well. Any man who can make me laugh is a friend I want to keep. Check out Louis’ book Die Laughing, and see what you think. I’m going to, for sure!

And the other author in our cul-de-sac was Pamela Labud, who was promoting the first book in her Blue Star Baby Trilogy, Grave Danger. It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie story about a re-animator, and it sounded good enough to convince me I should read it, even though zombies aren’t favorites of mine. Still, a well-told story is always worth the read, no matter the genre, and I could tell from looking this one over, it’s going to be good. After checking out Pamela’s Author Page on Amazon, I was truly impressed with her body of work, which spans several genres and more than one name. 🙂 (She also writes as Leigh Curtis.)

Pamela, Louis, and Eldon, I hope we’ll see you all here on The Write Stuff. I’m sure we can learn from each other, and you can share your work and promos here, as well. Great meeting you!

My sincere thanks to author Gunnar Angel Lawrence (The Perfect Day) for putting the event together. Great job! Also, thanks to the good folk at the St. Cloud Veteran’s Memorial Library for all their hard work. It was a great venue!

All in all, I’m so glad I went, because…how often do you get your picture taken with a cow in blue pajamas? I mean, hello…cow!

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Building a Local Audience

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Captain Jeanne Bell’s Ecotour Boat, the Naiad

I’m wondering how many of you have had an opportunity (or created one) to meet and greet with local readers in your own cities and communities? I confess, I hadn’t given this much thought until recently, and what brought it all to my attention was what happened when I gave my friend, Captain Jeanne Bell, a signed copy of Swamp Ghosts.

Now Captain Jeanne is the reason I wrote Swamp Ghosts. She runs the Naiad, an eco-tour boat on the St. Johns River, along with her husband, wildlife photographer Doug Little. I’ve been on this tour many times, and it was always a relaxing and beautiful way to spend an afternoon. Once, after coming home from an especially interesting trip, filled with sightings of birds, manatees, alligators, and all-around scenic beauty, I got the idea that an eco-tour boat operator would make a great heroine for a romantic suspense novel, and Swamp Ghosts was born. When Jeanne read the finished book, she loved it, and I got a message from her that she had been promoting the book to various local visitor centers and small attractions. Lo and behold, three of them immediately wanted to carry my book in their gift shops, and two have already asked me to do presentations for them. (Jeanne and Doug have a few more places in mind, too, so who knows what might happen?) They have also mentioned the possibility of doing a Meet The Author event aboard the Naiad. How much fun would that be?

I don’t know about you guys, but this seems to me to be a very good thing. The first place I’ll be visiting is a nature preserve adjacent to the DeBary Library, and I can give my talk and have a book signing, plus they are likely to stock my book. The second is at an historic home near Lake Monroe, where they have a fantastic guided tour, a gift shop, and a fun theater (complete with revolving seats) that gives an overview of the history of the home and the paddlewheel boats that plied the river in the 1800’s. I’ve also been invited to take part in an Author Symposium & Book Signing  in St. Cloud in January. Not sure exactly how big this will be, but I’m excited to attend my first one of this type.

Many of you have probably done tons of bigger signings at prestigious book stores and so forth, but I’m wondering if any of you have also tried working the local shops, libraries, and the like. Since Swamp Ghosts is set in a small, fictional town that I squeezed in between two real central Florida towns, and since it features many scenes on the St. Johns River, there are a lot of things local readers will recognize in the book (which is going to be a series), so I’m thinking building a local readership could really be a good thing.

I plan to post here about each event, as they take place, and let you know how it went, and what I learned along the way, and I’d love to hear if any of you have tried something of this nature, and if so, how it has worked for you?

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Purple Gallinule
One example of the kinds of birds seen while cruising on the Naiad.

Book Signings? Love ’em? Hate ’em?

I’m planning to do my first book signing at a library in a little town south of Orlando, in January. I have no idea what to expect, but I wanted to get some experience with the idea, and thought it would be a good place to start. (Plus they invited me! 😀 ) Have any of you done signings? Can you share any of your experiences with us? I know Evelyn Cullet & Ned Hickson have, so I hope they’ll pop in here, but how about the rest of you? And if you haven’t done any yourself, have you gone to any for other authors you’d like to tell us about? Caitlin? Anyone? (Caitlin, I’d love to share your photo with Ilona Andrews, if you wouldn’t mind.)