With the advent of a new book, booksignings are inevitable and creating press releases is the norm. I spent most of last night emailing press releases to various local print media outlets. I already have bookmarks, postcards and business cards as a result of the TLA and IRA conferences, so that’s a major task already out of the way. The booksigning posters in various sizes have already been created, so one more task is marked "done." I’m actually a little late on these local press releases due to my recent traveling. These should have gone out seven to ten days earlier. In addition to my efforts, both Elaine and I have sent out email announcements to friends, online groups, and local event announcement lists to spread as wide a net as we can.
Some of you may be wondering why I’m doing all this marketing. You may think the bookstores should be doing this. In fact, Blue Willow has included our signing information in their monthly newsletter, put up announcements on the website, and graciously sent out 200 or so very nice invitations. (You should know that it’s not the norm for stores to spend their money on mailouts, so when they do authors are delighted.) I know Borders has included us in their monthly newsletter and will be putting up a display and signage to remind in-store customers. These are two bookstores that really work at their events and we know that; however, authors should not rely or suppose that the necessary publicity and marketing efforts will be made on their behalf. Sometimes the stores are busy and inventory may fall at the same time as the event; sometimes the staff isn’t as up to speed on publicizing their events as authors would like; sometimes there simply isn’t enough manpower and/or knowledge to get the job done and done right. My policy is that anything the store does is a plus and will be on top of what I do. I can only control my own publicity efforts, plus, I will publicize the book, the event, and me–the author–in the way I want to be portrayed.
I had the same policy when I was a community relations coordinator for four years and handled the events and promotions for a local chain bookstore. I learned early on not to depend on publisher’s–or authors, I’m afraid–to do any publicity. In those rare times when actual publicity was done by a publisher it was to focus on the book and the TV and print media, etc. with, if I was lucky, a mention of the signing. Obviously the store’s event was a priority for me; the book was a priority for the publisher. So if the author wants to have any publicity and marketing done for the "author," it follows that he or she must get the word out. An extra plus is that most bookstores are grateful that you take the time to promote. But the biggest plus comes in sales on the day of the event and during the next several days after when your signed stock is available and when folks come in to buy the book after having missed the event.
But isn’t marketing and publicizing the book the same as publicizing the author? Not necessarily. I have two travel books published, but I also have a blog on writing and two young adult novels I’m promoting, so it’s up to me to get the word out about me.
That said, I have two signings that fall on the next two Saturdays. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by and say hello.