On Tuesday, I went to my first book club gathering. 14 women were in attendance, all of them clutching copies of Heart Land. The moment I came through the door, one of the attendees approached me. “I laughed. I cried. I loved the book,” she said. Well, what writer doesn’t want to be greeted like that?
Needless to say, the evening was off to a good start.
Most of the women, school teachers and a librarian were clustered around the buffet table. As they say in novels, the board groaned under the weight of so much good food. Unfortunately, I had an ear infection, probably picked up from my last book tour, so I wasn’t hungry. I couldn’t hear well either, which didn’t help during the question and answer period. But the welcoming body language of all those present was nourishment and balm enough for me. I had a good time and was happy people laughed in the right places when I did my reading.
Mark, my publicist, came along with me. He was the only man in the room, except for the host’s husband who came in late, but he seemed to thrive in the company. On the way home, he and I talked about what works and doesn’t work in book promotion. Would there be any ripple effect from this gathering, I wondered. Would these friends tell other friends about the book? Might another book club invitation grow from this one? Certainly, it was an eager crowd and larger than any library readings I’d done. Book clubs seemed a good way for a writer to promote his work; but how does one find them and get invited as a guest author? A good question.
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: the hardest part of being an author is promoting the book. I wish I had a magic bullet for success to share with my fellow writers. I don’t. My best advice is be prepared for rejection. Being a writer at any stage is like being a diver in search of natural pearls. You have to shuck a lot of oysters to find one be it a publisher, an agent or an audience. For those of you in search of an audience here are a few ideas:
- Develop interview opportunities in local/regional newspapers and magazines
- Send postcards to libraries, book stores about your publication
- Try a table at a farmer’s market
- Set up and use Facebook and Twitter
- Check with service clubs like Rotary Club for an opportunity to speak to a group.
- Hit community radio /TV programs for a chance to be interviewed
After you’ve done these things, don’t expect to find yourself on a best seller list, but a few more people will know your work exists. A few more friends will have been made and that’s a plus.