Friday, October 17, 2008

On the road again

I am in Paso Robles, California. I arrived here yesterday, by way of Houston. This trip is part book promotion and part chance to visit family, which is great, and the book promotion part has gone really well. Of course the family part has been wonderful. But--this trip has once again made me think about what we do to promote our books, what "works" and what doesn't.
I still don't know the answer to that one, and if I ever figure it out, I could get rich. Maybe from book sales, but more likely from selling my secret promotion tips. However, over these last couple of years, I have seen a pattern of sorts.
Internet stuff is great, and it is an easy way to promote. You get to sit at home, in your pj's, with a cup of hot coffee, while you do interviews that may or may not get read, make comments on other people's blogs, "chat" on line, and create ways to "drive" people to your web site, which you can worry over endlessly. Maybe other people know how to tell if they are getting "hits" and even what people think who accidently stumble accross their site, maybe other people can tell if sales spike after a particularly great interview or blog, but I can't. I keep trying, but the more I learn about the computer, the more I realize how little I know.
However, sitting in book stores, smiling like a store front dummy, holding up a copy of the book like a homeless person holding out a tin cup, can get pretty old. It's also frustrating. And you can't wear your pj's. In these days where filling a gas tank costs almost as much as a mortgage payment, it's also expensive. Very expensive. So, what's a poor struggling author to do?
Last year, I talked with Kris Neary of The Well Red Cayote Book Store in Sedona, AZ. Yes, the same place where the McCain's have their ranch, but they didn't invite me over. Darn. Anyway, Kris wanted to do an event, and so did I, but she said no to a straight signing. She also has several very good books out, so knows the business from the author standpoint, and from the book seller end. Do something interactive, she said. Okay. What?
I don't play the violin, and even though the latest book, And Murder For Dessert, is about gourmet dinners and very good wines, I didn't think crushing grapes or making gooey desserts would work very well. So, I borrowed a few ideas from several people and put together a workshop, entitled "The Tortous Path From Idea to Story. And, it's working. The idea is that everyone in the audience writes down an "idea" which means a couple of sentences that will get us started on a plot, then as a group we come up with a story line, com;lete with antagonist and protagonist. It's fun, lots of fun. and we've actually come up with some pretty good plots.
What is this proving? I don't know, except that when you talk with people, laugh with people, get to know them a little, they won't ever forget you. and that is the whole idea of promotion. So, those groups, of maybe 8-20 people each, will emember my name. Now if I could just figure out how to meet the other million people out there---. Kathleen Delaney And Murder For Dessert

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