Small Matters

I try to follow the example of our own highly esteemed Jeffrey Siger and resist posting  identical material in two separate blogs. But I’ve decided to repeat a blog I used in Type M For Murder because of the number of responses.

Last weekend I hosted the Western Writers of America booth at the Mountains and Plains Bookseller Trade Show. It’s one of my favorite events. Representatives from New York houses show up with books from their fall lists and bookstore owners eagerly look for books their readers will enjoy.

It’s a great opportunity to meet the owners and managers of bookstores and the reps from various houses.

I had a surprising conversation with a representative from Ingrams which distributes books for Poisoned Pen Press.

I was shocked that she recognized my name. Then got a double shock when she told me I don’t market my books enough. She didn’t hesitate to scold me for not giving enough talks and presentations. I was surprised. And heartened to know that this kind of contact counts for so much. She says when she sells my books to stores, the response is often “never heard of her.”

So much marketing has gone to on-line, that I’ve neglected the hard work of contacting booksellers and libraries. I really don’t mind speaking, it’s the process of setting things up that I find daunting.  Boy, did I ever hear some interesting advice. I asked her about the effectiveness of on-line marketing. She said small stores feel like this mainly helps the on-line stores. As to writers conferences–she said we only talk to one another while we’re there.

Gulp! Nailed!  She’s entirely right. At conferences, I tend to seek out my buddies. 

I decided to reform right then and there at the event. A man wandered over to our table. He was from a town close to me. He was quite chatty and interested in the books written by WWA members and my mysteries in particular. I asked if he was interested in a signing. His store is small, and we discussed topics that interest his customers. The town has a lot of Episcopalians. Lethal Lineage begins in a small country church where a sinister bishop is performing a confirmation ceremony. I’m going to see if their local church might be interested in a program about church history,

Signings are difficult. They are hard to get. Volunteering to present a program for organizations gains immediate acceptance. I’ll talk and he can supply the books.

Personal contact matters. Small matters. If this were not true, there are a lot of politicians knocking themselves out for nothing.

6 Responses to Small Matters

  1. Charlotte, are you trying to make my hat size so big that my ears will freeze come winter? 🙂 Thank you. I just returned from Bouchercon, which fastidiously bills itself as a FAN convention, and that it is. Even if we just want to talk to our “buddies,” Bouchercon fans feel comfortable enough to approach “anyone” which is just as it should be and helps everyone.

    For what it’s worth, I suggest we pick our spots judiciously and go to places where fans are the focus…and use our time the same way by participating in sites where the fans, not our fellow writers, are predominant participants.

  2. Curiously enough, I found it rather encouraging to know that someone somewhere was still interested in what a writer had to say. And frankly, it’s also gratifying to hear that personal contact still matters.

  3. With bookstores closing all over the landscape personal contacts are even more difficult to arrange….but there it is. Nobody said promotion was going to be easy!

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