Monday, October 23, 2006

Welcome to my nightmare

I notice that when I tell people about my reading this Thursday (7:30 pm at Barnes & Noble in Huntington), they get this terrified look on their faces, like I'm going to try to sell them a timeshare. They tend to smile politely as they back away, and then make a mad dash out of my sightline.

Everyone had warned me that it's hard to get people to come to readings, but I just didn't anticipate that I'd have so much trouble getting people to show up at events that are so close to home.

I was fortunate that I had about 100 people at my first reading. But that was an official book launch, complete with a wine and cheese party and ersatz-engraved invitations. So it was largely family and friends. In fact, I think it's safe to say it was a room full of people who love me.

I promoted the hell out of my second Long Island reading, and had about 40 attendees, which is still considered pretty darn good. (I've heard plenty of stories from authors who had 2 or 3 people at their readings ... or even zero. Ouch.)

But now that I'm approaching my third one, I'm in a bit of a panic, as I'm running out of people who love me enough to show up. I have this nightmare that the only people there will be me, hubby and the Barnes & Noble staff. God help me.

So I've been trying desperately to get the word out there. Here's a list of the things I've done to get people to come:
1. Sent an email to everyone I know who lives within 20 miles of the reading location
2. Sent a mass email to my high school graduating class
3. Sent a mass email to my brother's graduating class
4. Sent emails to the teachers from my children's schools
5. Made a flyer promoting the fact that anyone who comes is eligible for a drawing for a "free signed copy of the book," inscribed to the teacher of their choice
6. Mailed the flyer to PTA presidents at all the schools near the reading, asking them to distribute it to their membership
7. Dropped copies of the flyer at my daughter's elementary school
8. Emailed the principals of my children's schools, inviting them and their staffs to the reading
9. Snail mailed invitations to all local friend whose emails addresses I don't have and who weren't at either of the previous readings
10. Wrote a press release about the event and faxed it to a long list of local media contacts

But I have this terrible feeling in my gut that I've been shoveling against the tide. It's a weeknight, for one. Plus, for the last reading, about a dozen people who said they'd "try" to come didn't. This time, no one's even made the gesture. Yikes. I guess the signed book giveaway isn't much of a draw. Maybe next time I'll promise a free weekend in Orlando.


Myfanwy Collins said...

Hey, you! I'm thinking you're going to get a much, much better crowd than you are anticipating. I'm betting on it. :)


RobinSlick said...

Oh god. First of all, I can't believe you do all this hard work. I wouldn't even think of a mass email plan like you did and if I did, I'd be too lazy and dumb to follow through.

Secondly, you are seriously making me feel like getting on a train from Philadelphia to hold your hand.

I don't think you should worry. Barnes and Noble are always full of people and you'll attract strangers just happening by. And even if you don't, it's all part of the process and look at it this way, YOU ARE READING AT BARNES AND NOBLE!

C'mon. That in itself is pretty fantastic. Relax and enjoy yourself.

I know what you mean about the promo, though. I know a writer who is actually giving away 14K gold jewelry she's made herself...gorgeous stuff, with semi-precious stones and everything. I'm like, who can compete with stuff like this? I thought all we had to do was write, find an agent, and land a book deal. Hell, that was the easy part.

Btw, I can't comment under Netscape and have to switch to Firefox for that and I keep forgetting in case your site meter is telling you I am schizophrenic. Why can't I comment on Netscape? Because I have forgotten my blogger password, and Firefox luckily remembers it.

P.S. You're gonna knock 'em dead on Thursday.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Interesting post. I always feel sorry for the authors who draw just two or three people -- usually just people who happened to be in the store and maybe felt sorry for the author, or wanted some free soft drinks. God, I hope that doesn't happen to me -- not that I'm expecting to publish soon. But, for me, it's going to be even more difficult than you mention, as I write under a pseudonym. So, no emailing friends, coworkers, or highschool classmates. It's gonna be tough! Anyway, good luck!

Ellen said...

Myf, thanks! I hope so. I'll blog about it tomorrow in any case.

Rob ... giving away gold jewelry? Ay! The things we have to do to sell books!

BSUWG, if I couldn't reach out to people I know and guilt them into coming, I'd have no attendees!