The Enterprise Heritage Museum is a 1930’s era schoolhouse, lovingly restored. Yesterday the classroom above was transformed into a tea parlor.
I’ve talked before about the wonderful (and profitable) time I’m having building a local readership here in central Florida, so some of you are familiar with how I’ve done so far. For those who aren’t, let me say that my second novel, Swamp Ghosts, is set in an imaginary small town along the St. Johns River, and many of the places in the book are very familiar to folks in this area.
With the help of Captain Jeanne Bell and her hubby, photographer Doug Little, of St. Johns River Eco Tours, I have met some fantastic folks who’ve been taken by the book, and who invited me to speak at several venues. Jeanne and Doug started it by promoting my book on their Eco Tour boat cruises. (It was a natural fit for them, since, as I acknowledge in the book, they inspired my main characters.)
In the past year, I’ve visited quite a few local museums, historic sites, book clubs, and the like, giving a PowerPoint presentation (with gorgeous slides, I might add) about using the St. Johns River basin and its wildlife as a setting for a Romantic Suspense novel. The presentation is filled with loads of information on Florida wildlife, including the best way to ID snakes you’d rather avoid, and an introduction to albino and leucistic reptiles. And, of course, there are some things specific to my book (which includes all of the above subjects) and how I write. People really seem to enjoy the “show,” and I’ve been invited back to many of the places, so I’m pretty happy with that. And I also have two more presentations available for upcoming events, so I can mix it up a bit.
One small corner of yesterday’s dessert table.
Now, having said all of that, yesterday, I was invited to do a reading and Q&A session at an afternoon tea, at the Heritage Museum in Enterprise, Florida, and I have to say, it was one of the most FUN events I’ve done. The ladies were a super audience, engaged and engaging, and they laughed at all my jokes, which makes them A-OK in my book. 🙂 Plus, they asked thoughtful and interesting questions, on everything from PTSD (a factor in one of my books), to when and where I’d be doing the Swamp Ghosts presentation again, which is a lovely thing to be asked.
Add to that, the finger sandwiches, scones, pumpkin pies, cakes, and other desserts were wonderful. And then the TEA. Folks, let me tell you about tea. Thanks to one of our members here, Jennifer Melzer, I discovered Adagio Teas, and things haven’t been the same since. Not only do they have the largest and most delicious selection of teas I’ve ever seen, they offer visitors a chance to create their own blends! I’m hooked. I’ve created fifteen or sixteen (I’ve lost count) custom blend teas, named for characters in my books, and featuring my own labels. Needless to say, I provided the tea for yesterday’s events, and judging from the comments, all of my flavors went over very well.
(Example of a Sample sized tin of one of my teas. Perfect for giveaways!)
ALL of the above is by way of saying, if you use your imagination and get out there looking for local venues that might be interested in having you give a presentation on your books, you might find yourself in demand in your area. I’m lucky that having a book set locally gave me a jumpstart, but I think this can be done no matter what your books are about. I’d like to encourage some discussions on this subject. Have you tried it yet? Are you interested in giving it a try? What are some local venues you could approach? (Libraries, museums, historical sites, book clubs, etc.) How can you tie your books into things happening in your area?
Let’s talk, because when things are slow on amazon, my local sales keep me going. I have my books in four gift shops, including believe it or not, a plant nursery, where the owner (who loves my stories) has sold an incredible amount of print books for me, given she doesn’t even sell GARDENING books in her store. But her very busy nursery, open every day, has been in business in the small town of DeBary for decades, and when she tells people they should read my books, they believe her. And they do! And of course, Captain Jeanne and Doug sell my books at their ticket booth at Highbanks Marina, after every tour, and without their support and encouragement…well, hopefully I’ll never have to find out what that would be like.
I STINK at spending time doing online marketing, but I excel at meeting lovely folks who like to talk books and reading. And if it works for me, it can work for you! What do you think?
You’d be surprised at which local shops might want to carry your books!
Bev McCain, at DeBary Nursery has sold hundreds…yes, HUNDREDS…of mine!