The Nightstand Diaries: what works and what doesn’t in a book marketing campaign

Just starting your magnum opus? Kudos to you. Almost done with your manuscript? Fantastic! Keep going! Your book’s been published? Outstanding! But all that really doesn’t mean squat in the real world. Not if you want to put food on the table by putting words on paper. You gotta sell it, for it’s only when someone takes a chance on us, the virtually unknown writers, and takes our books home – as a way to relax on a lounge chair, pass time on a subway, or as the last mental exercise before putting it on the nightstand and going to bed – that we can become a part of our readers’ lives and truly be successful authors. 

My goal is to try and sell 5,000 copies of my new novel ,The Brink, over the next year using every kind of marketing that I can think of and afford. I’m sharing my experiences on a daily basis as a source of information and, hopefully, inspiration to you. I’ll share the amount of time and money each marketing endeavor costs and I’ll post examples of each marketing piece as well. I will also update my sales reports monthly. Our time together should be an informative and, at the very least, fun ride, and I expect some feedback from you, my fellow brothers and sisters of the mighty pen.  So strap in and let’s get to it…

Day 5 of 365 in this Issue:

–         Library Friday

–         A stop by the local B and N pays off

–         Gimme a hug in Colleyville tomorrow

Library Friday

I’ve already said how much the Colleyville, Texas Library rocks. Not only do they have over 900 kids from our community registered in their summer reading program, but Director of Library Services Mary Rodne and her staff continue to amaze everyone with what they do to keep kids interested in reading. Last summer, our first summer in Colleyville, was a Wild West theme and for each 8 books kids wrote they could go to the Wild West-inspired prize room to spin a wheel for a prize. There were also tons of programs including Mad Science, a Yo-Yo trick artist, Nana Puddin, and much more.

This year, the theme is “Bank on Books” and the kick off breakfast last weekend included an appearance by both Oink the Pig, and Daisy the Reading Pig. Again this year they are having numerous programs to get the kids into the library and reading.

I actually hooked up with the Friends of the Colleyville Library several months ago to let them know that The Brink was coming out in late Spring 2010. They graciously had me to one of their meetings to tell my tale of how I became an author and to talk a little about the book. I am going back to their meeting this Tuesday to update them on how the book is doing, and to tell them about this blog. (Time cost: 3 hours including prep for presentations and the presentations themselves. I sold 16 books at the first meeting.)

Mary Rodne also let me know of the North Texas Regional Library Partners (NTRLP) 2nd Annual North Texas Conference For Library Supporters on July 24, 2010 at the Decatur Civic Center in Decatur, Texas. While it’s mainly geared for companies who provide support for libraries, it is also open to authors who can visit with Library Board, Foundation and Friends Group members, volunteers, and staff – all in one day. There are regional groups like this one all over America and they all need books to read, so if you don’t at least look into registering for something like this event, then I may have to get out the Spankin’ Spoon and come find you. You will never get a better chance to make contacts with such a huge cross section of people devoted to the written word than at one of these conferences. If you’re an author or someone who works with libraries in the North Texas area and would like to attend this event, email Elizabeth Stewart at (It’s an all day event, and there’s some prep work involved – so I’m thinking 8 hours of work + gas money and cost for lunch and gas – since I’m an author who’s presented at a library, my registration fee is free)

I also stopped by the library in Southlake, Texas today, after holding my squirming three year old through Shrek 3, which is part of the summer movie program at Harkins Theaters in their gorgeous town center development. I wanted to inquire about giving a presentation and doing a signing at one of their Friends meetings as well. One of the delightful staff members told me to send an email to their library director, which I did this afternoon. I call these endeavors the “Friends Circuit,” as I plan to at least try and gain an audience with every Friends group in the DFW area this year. An important note about doing the Friends Circuit – I donate all the profits from Friends signings to the respective Friends group. Not only do I believe in what they are doing by supporting our libraries, I think it’s good karma as well. (Cost: 15 minutes)

A stop by the local B and N pays off

So after the Southlake library visit, where I got a steaming hot cup of Starbucks coffee that they serve gratis (in the spirit of full disclosure, I put a buck in the donation tray), I stopped by their stunning Barnes and Noble store and talked to Angie, who is their community relations director. I sent her a similar marketing packet that I sent to the Colleyville Borders store (see post # 2 from this series for an example) back on June 7, but they were having computer problems and she never received it. Anyway, while they are booked through the summer with signings, she graciously let me be part of their Educators’ Week in October where several authors will be there signing books. I’m not sure where The Brink fits in with educators – maybe I’ll play the whole it teaches kids about the Constitution since it deals with a lost Constitution article, or the whole using-a-thriller-to-teach-people-about-economics-and-our-dire-economic-plight-thing angle. Hey, anything to get me behind a table and opening my sizeable mouth, right? I also resent Angie the marketing packet this afternoon to make sure she knows what I plan to do to market the signing. (Cost: 30 minutes)

Gimme a hug in Colleyville tomorrow

And yes, dear readers, here it is, the shameless self-promotion. I’ll be signing books in the Colleyville, Texas Borders bookstore tomorrow, Saturday June 19 from 1pm-3pm. If you’re going to be in the area, it’d be awesome if you stopped by and at least say hi. If you live out of state, I’d love to fly you in for it, but I don’t even think Dan Brown or Grisham would do something like that – and they have the scratch to hire a G5 to come pick you up. But I have been toying around with the idea that if I do indeed reach my goal of 5,000 books in one year I would rent a beer joint somewhere around here for a night, like the Ginger Man or the Flying Saucer and just leave the taps open all night. I’m actually going to call sometime next week when I have the time to inquire about that to see just how much it would cost. Any guesses?