A lot of us had plans last year for get-togethers, travel and more. Then came the pandemic. Some things, like conferences, went online. But others were outright cancelled. I should know; my onground launch of A Matter of Motive was one of the casualties. It was a real disappointment, but I am one of the lucky ones; my family and I stayed healthy and employed. Still, it was a tough blow.
Imagine my delight, then, when the owner of Book Carnival, where I had planned to do the launch, contacted me and invited me to do a signing there in September! I am very grateful and excited for the chance, and I’m looking forward to it!
[Just so you know, the above is really true. Every word. What follows….well…. I do write fiction after all 😉 ]
The whole thing made me think about the preparations I ought to make before the big day. I’d like to make the most of the opportunity, but self-promotion and marketing are not my biggest strengths. So, I thought it might be a good idea to get some help from a PR person – someone who could help me get the word out. I’d heard good things about Bennie Fitz, so I decided to consult with her.
Bennie could barely contain her excitement when she showed me into her office. ‘I just love doing author events,’ she told me.
I was glad to hear that. As I mentioned, promotion and marketing are not my strong suits. ‘That’s good to know. I’ll bet you have some great ideas.’
‘I sure do! You’re going to love them!’ She turned her computer screen so that we could both see it. ‘Now,’ she began, ‘I’ve done some mockups of what I have in mind for you. We need to start with advance publicity, of course.’
I’m not much of a one to blow my own horn, but I saw her point. ‘OK. You mean flyers, social media postings, that sort of thing, right?’
‘Oh, that’s yesterday’s news! I’m thinking online and TV ads. I’ve already got a draft to show you.’ Bennie clicked on a few keys and showed me the ad she’d put together. When it was over, I sat quietly for a moment, trying to think of what to say. ‘You love it, right?’ Bennie looked at me eagerly.
‘To be perfectly honest, I think it’s a little…much.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, for example, this says ‘top-selling author’ and ‘darkest noir.’ I’m not a top seller – not even close. And my work’s really not noir. I just don’t want people to be misled.’
‘Hmm…’ Bennie looked a little disappointed. Then she brushed it aside. ‘Well, we can play with the wording, but we have to do ads.’
‘That’s the other thing.’ I hesitated a little. ‘Wouldn’t TV and online ads be obnoxious? And expensive.’
‘Well, as far as cost goes, you’ll drive a lot more traffic to your signing if people have seen ads. That’ll more than make up your investment.’
‘I see your point, but I’m still concerned about whether ads might be obnoxious.’
‘Look, you have to let people know about this signing. You have to make it a big thing – hit them over the head with it. That’s the only way they’ll remember.’
I didn’t agree at all. Bennie took one look at my face and hastily changed the subject. ‘Now,’ she said briskly, ‘we also have to talk about what you’ll do on the day of the event.’
‘OK,’ I agreed.
‘Do you have swag?’
I brightened up.’ Yes, I do. I’ve got bookmarks, pens, and business cards.’
‘Those are nice, but we need to up your game. We can start with autographed photos of you. You know, put them in swag bags with the other things, and have someone standing at the door of the bookshop to pass them out. Oh, and we must get a life-sized cutout of you for the entrance to the shop.’
I was getting concerned. ‘To tell you the truth, I think it’s a little, well, arrogant. There’ll be three other authors there, all of whom are very talented people who’ve sold a lot of books.’
‘Well, then you really have to make sure that you get as much attention as you can.’
‘It’s not a competition,’ I had to hold back from snapping at Bennie. ‘We’re all going to be there talking about our books. It’s a team effort.’
Bennie knew she was starting to lose me. ‘OK, ok, maybe not the photos. But we should have a balloon.’
I thought about it for a moment. There was probably nothing wrong with having a balloon or two at the authors’ table. ‘I could see that,’ I said slowly. ‘Do you mean the mylar balloons, with writing? Or the regular kind?’
Bennie looked confused for a moment. Then her face cleared. ‘No, no! I mean a hot air balloon! You can make your entrance unforgettable if you arrive in a hot air balloon.’
I think I’ll stick with the bookmarks, pens, and business cards…