My second book, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” was published April 14, 2011 in the U.S. and April 19 in Canada.
It’s been full-on ever since!
Radio interviews with shows in: D.C. (four, three of them national), St. Louis, Irvine, CA, Portland, Ore.; Vancouver, Winnipeg, New York, Chicago, Buffalo.
One TV show, a half-hour in Toronto on BNN with a retail analyst and professor of retail management.
I’ve also spoken at six events in a month, with engagements lined up through October.
If you’re about to publish a book, these tips will help you through the fun, wearying, non-stop job of telling everyone about it:
Carry your book and/or its postcard everywhere. (And business cards.)
I mean everywhere. I’ve handed them out while airborne, while standing in line to check my baggage at an airport, at the hair salon, at my local framing shop…I missed the opportunity of a lifetime recently when I bumped into Anderson Cooper at a Toronto television station — and had nothing to hand him. Most people are delighted to meet an author. Having something tangible to refer to will help them remember to buy the book.
Stay well-groomed and dressed.
Many writers work alone at home, often in sloppy and comfy clothes. Once you’re out and in the public eye, you’re on! People who’ve never met an author are often thrilled to do so; in their eyes, (true!) your ability to get a book published is a huge achievement. Look and dress the part! Keep your hair cut (and color) in top shape, mani and pedi fresh, so that surprise invitations to speak or do a media interview won’t panic you.
Splurge on a few new, confidence-building outfits. I spent a heart-stopping amount on some terrific clothes, and made sure they fit and were accessorized before the book was out.
When I received a surprise invitation to address the sales staff of Marie-Claire, a women’s fashion magazine, (while I was on the road with no time to go home from Toronto), I was fine, thanks to my new go-to gear. I felt totally comfortable in a room full of very chic listeners.
OK, you won’t, but try.
Like me, “Malled”, has a strong voice and unvarnished opinions — and outspoken women, especially in the U.S., can really piss people off.
It’s already got 45 reviews on amazon, many of them positive. But many of the negative ones attack me personally, calling me everything from princess to racist. It’s stressful to be name-called, and really annoying to know you just can’t reply. Unless a review is truly libelous or defamatory, it’s not worth it.
Book-sellers are your new best friends!
Visit as many bookstores as possible and autograph any copies of your book they have on hand.
If they have the time or interest, tell them a little about you or how the book came to be. If you’ve done, or are about to do, any local media coverage that might bring shoppers into their store, let them know so they can be sure to have copies on hand.
Say thank-you. Be gracious. They’re our ambassadors!
Stay rested, exercised, hydrated and well-fed.
Every event is a performance that demands focus, and emotional and intellectual energy to do well. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Keep a full cup of cool water at hand every time you speak.
Take some media or speech training to prepare.
I discovered a great coach on LinkedIn, a young woman named Christine Clapp, who prepped me for NPR’s popular Diane Rehm show — I would be on-air, before two million listeners, for an hour. She taught me some vocal and physical exercises to do before every interview or event and reviewed, and critiqued, the video of a keynote I gave last year at a retail conference. My confidence has improved immeasurably as a result.
It’s a roller-coaster.
Strap in and hang on! It’s a wild ride.
You’ll experience lovely highs: your book party, publication date, good reviews, positive media attention — and some tough lows: negative, even nasty reviews, people who just don’t get your point, events with an audience of one, events where no one buys the book, radio show call-in hecklers.
Enjoy the experience, but don’t take it to heart.
I did a Chicago radio show that had promised me four to eight minutes…and barely gave me one. Good thing I named the book’s full title in my first sentence! Decide the three key things you want to share with your audience and repeat them in every media interview.
Keep a cheat sheet handy.
I have a one-sheet, in 18-point type, of my major talking points. It’s easy to forget or get caught up in the moment, certainly on live radio.
While I was on the Diane Rehm show, a male caller sneered: “Why should I buy this book? What value does it have beyond being….entertainment?” I had my talking points beside the mike, made them, and got emails from listeners praising my poise.
Enjoy it all!
It’s easy to freak out — sales are too low, too slow, audiences too small or silent. Authors who have published, as I have both times, with a commercial house, face their very high expectations of fast, steady sales.
With 1,500 books published every day, we all face challenges getting ours noticed.
It’s a thrill to see your book in the store, to get to know book-sellers and hear their thoughts, to know that total strangers all over the place are reading and loving it; to read the Google alerts letting you know that libraries are buying it; watching your little map at amazon’s Author Central tell you how many people bought it where — 47 in Chicago! 45 in Phoenix!
Always being your A-game, as you never know who’s in your audience or who they know.
Two recent examples: I went to lunch recently with my softball buddies of eight years, all old friends. Some new guy was there, 73. I said hi and introduced myself — he’s a producer for a major network TV news show and now wants a copy of the book. Yesterday I spoke at a local library event and the author sitting beside me is a freelance producer for CNN.
Even events that feel like a wash — like one where I drove 40 minutes each way, sold no books and did not get paid — had in its audience a friendly and helpful local journo who hooked me up for a great event, some serious library sales and three great ideas for events in her area — complete with names and contact numbers.
Now….what’s your next book about?