Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An audience of one

I have read Truck Stuck at four different bookstore events. Each one has been quite different, and I’ve learned something new at each one.

I was visiting family who live in Chapel Hill, so the Publicity/Promotions Assistant at Charlesbridge, set up a book signing at a nearby chain bookstore that has a regular story hour. Only one little girl and her grandmother showed up. She listened politely to my truck book. She was there to read princess books. However, a mom who was nearby without her kids bought two copies of my book based on the reading.

The main thing I learned from my first book store event is don’t depend on the bookstore to publicize the event. I should have asked my sister, brother, mother, and sister-in-law, all of whom live in Chapel Hill, to email or call all their friends who have small children or who would be interested in the book.

The next thing I learned is that no book store event is a waste of time if it gets the book into the store and lets you establish a relationship with the children’s department and the community relations manager. I talked up my next book and offered to come back in a year, once that one is published.

In fact, this bookstore would not have been carrying my book if we hadn’t arranged the signing. By reading in the store I ensured that they were aware of the book, had it in stock, and heard it read. Furthermore, I also visited the preschool where my sister teaches and read Truck Stuck to two classes. My sister created a simple order form and sold 26 copies of the book, which we bought from that store, effectively emptying their stock. I asked the manager of the children’s department to reorder the book, and he did.

My sister and I went to the rival chain and told them that they should order Truck Stuck because the other store was sold out. (Then I confessed that I was the author. The person helping us laughed, ordered three copies of the book, and said she would make a point of reading it.)

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