A couple of weeks ago, before I took a much-needed vacation, I had posted about the best places to sell books, having just come off of a very successful weekend with a book signing at a bookstore and having a booth at my parish festival. I know that authors, especially those of us who don't have name recognition or the backing of a huge publishing company, need to be actively promoting their books if they're going to find any readers or make any sales. That brings me to today's blog post.
I received my 47th review on “End of the Road” just the other day... courtesy of a chance encounter in a northern New Mexico winery on July 4th.
My husband, Paul, and I had spent our anniversary weekend working a wine festival in Santa Fe. After two days in a hot, crowded tent with no air conditioning, tons of people, and precious few bathroom breaks, we decided to take an extra day—July 4th—and visit Vivac Winery in the tiny town of Dixon, about an hour north of Santa Fe. When we arrived, the place was starting to get busy. We tasted some wine and managed to snag a table on the patio under the grape arbor. Shortly afterward, a couple arrived and went into the winery. By the time they emerged with their own glasses, the patio had filled up with a large party and no other tables were available, except for two chairs at ours. We waved them over, introduced ourselves, and spent a lovely hour enjoying wine and the company of new friends.
Naturally, my husband—my PR person extraordinaire—mentioned to them that I was a mystery author. The woman, Patty, expressed interest, as she is a travel planner and is always looking for something to read on long flights. Paul promptly went out to our Jeep and grabbed a copy of “End of the Road” (yes, I always carry copies of all of my books... don’t you?) and offered it to her for free. She and her husband were both surprised, but (here’s the important thing) she expressed an interest in my book before we gave it to her. I had already given them bookmarks with all the books listed and she had started looking them up on her phone. We friended each other on facebook and then she messaged me to let me know she had written a review and posted it! Here is her review (did I mention it’s the 47th one???)
“This is a fun read with likable characters, a whodunit plot, and a touch of romance. I took it on a long plane ride and it made the trip whiz by. It would also be a perfect summer read. Now I have to read the next in the series to find out if Corrie and Rick make it past friendship, or if JD returns to give him some competition!”
In addition, we returned to Vivac a week ago to help out with the grape harvest. We had a fun day and spent some time talking to one of the winery owners, who happens to be a friend of the winery owner that I work for. Again, Paul told him that I was a mystery author and we offered him a copy of “End of the Road” and slipped in the fact that my boss carried the books in his winery (probably because the winery is mentioned in the books) and Jesse, one of the Vivac owners, grinned and said, “Any chance your characters might visit Vivac?” I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
We also met another couple from Missoula, Montana who had traveled down to help with the harvest (they were wine club members and were in the loop) and they agreed to meet up with us at Noisy Water in Ruidoso (where we work) in a few days after we had returned from Colorado. I had given them bookmarks and when they arrived at the winery, not only did they buy a few bottles of wine, they also bought all four of my books!
It goes to show that an author should always be prepared to meet potential readers! If you can’t keep a supply of books in the trunk (I was actually out of “End of the Road” a week ago) at least carry bookmarks, business cards, whatever it is you use to promote your books. And don’t be shy about talking about them (or else, have someone like my husband along!)
I have two more events planned for November--one is a "vendor blender" which is a monthly gathering of home-based businesses in Alamogordo, the town where I work my "real" job (Walmart, that is), and the other is the first book festival hosted by the El Paso Writers' League in El Paso, TX (my hometown). The "vendor blender" will cost me $20 for a three-hour slot and they provide the tables and chairs. I just have to bring my books and the items I need to spruce up my space. The EPWL festival won't cost me anything but my time and my annual dues. Of course, I have to pay for the books I will (I hope) sell at the events. Otherwise, the biggest investment is time and travel.
None of this means I will suddenly leap to the top of the best-seller lists. It might not even mean that I break even. But if my master plan was to make money, writing is the wrong profession to take up. I write because I love to tell stories and I hope to find readers. The promo and selling is all part of the package and because I have to sell in order to keep being published by a traditional publisher. It's all worth it in the end and I've come to really enjoy it!
This was my table at our church fiesta in September... one of my best day of book sales ever!