Guest blogger: Sue Harrison
Don’t you wish that we still lived in the good old days? When every publisher was wide open to new authors, if you had the moxie to write a book, agents and editors lined up to read your golden words. Once you chose a publisher, they sent you on book tours and put you up in fancy hotels, where you found chocolate-covered strawberries awaiting your arrival.
Back then, no one sent email or texts. No one twittered. Imagine the solitude, the absolute peace and quiet. You just sat down, filled your quill with ink and wrote…
Hmmm. Yeah. Okay, now that we’ve all indulged in that little fantasy, let’s take a look back in time into the real world of a published novelist (me), circa 1990.
Yes, the book tours were real and sometimes even the chocolate-covered strawberries, but if you truly wanted to succeed, you did most of the PR work yourself.
My husband is a pilot, which gave me a few extra options. One of our favorite out-of-the-box undertakings was to fly our plane to an airport several states away, where we would rent a car and drive to every little bookstore we could find. At each store, we would introduce ourselves, talk to the manager, sign stock, chat with buyers and customers and then drive on to the next town.
Of course, with no Internet, we couldn’t just go online to locate bookstores. We had to rely on motel phone books and word of mouth. You know, the waitress at the local café. And then we’d leave her a free signed book to thank her for her help.
After we arrived back home from that impromptu tour (paid for by us, not my publisher), I mailed notes to the bookstores we had visited and then added them to our Christmas card list.
I did mass mailings to those stores and to libraries and to book lovers. Remember, no one had email. In those days you had to buy stamps.
I telephoned libraries, churches, and organizations to beg for speaking opportunities. I asked friends and family members to set up book signings in their local bookstores. I judged chili contests, hawked books at boat shows and at blueberry festivals. I spoke to church groups and at writers’ conferences. I gave commencement addresses at high school and college graduations. I dropped in for reading week at local elementary schools and gave the children bookmarks to take home to mom and dad.
We bought thousands of copies of my books from my publishers, and we sold them at craft fairs and community gatherings, at local gas stations and restaurants and curio stores. Our kids set up their own book business and helped put themselves through college by selling my novels.
Hard work? You bet. Fun? Absolutely. But guess what? Today – right now – 2010 – is an even better time to be a writer. Technology opens many more ways to connect and to shout out our names. Opportunities abound. Believe it! Then go out and celebrate with a little hard work.
Q4U: What out-of-the-box ideas do you use (or plan to use) to sell your books or products? What out-of-the-box ideas have enticed you to buy?
Sue Harrison is a bestselling novelist whose debut novel, Mother Earth, Father Sky was published in 1990. She went on to write and publish five more critically acclaimed, bestselling novels. Her books have been published in more than twenty countries and in thirteen languages. After a writing hiatus, she’s working on a new contemporary novel. Learn more about Sue at her website.[ Next Post → ] [ ← Previous Post ]