Atlanta’s Wordsmiths Books closed up shop yesterday, becoming the latest bookseller to fall victim to our foundering economy. As book publicists, we always try to schedule print and broadcast interviews in advance of bookstore talks to drive readers to the stores (where they will, presumably, buy books). This technique is somewhat dicey these days, not the least because the journalists themselves are facing layoffs.
Fortunately, a slew of websites have emerged that list and categorize author events. These include BookTour and LibraryThing Local. BookTour has lots of partnerships with other organizations including Indiebound and Goodreads, the idea being that you submit information once and it automatically appears on multiple sites. (The downside is that information can easily and inadvertently be duplicated.)
Bookforum Magazine is starting its own events calendar (similar to Artforum’s events calendar) at the end of the month / early next. Details of author talks (anywhere in the country) should be sent to Marketing Director Valerie Cortes at valerie[at]bookforum[dot]com. Or, you can simply include Valerie on your tour mailing list if that is more convenient:
350 Seventh Ave
New York, NY 10001
Another way to draw readers to an event is to hone in on the right readers. Yesterday evening, for example, I attended Lady Jane’s Salon, a reading series dedicated to romance fiction. A group of about 30 ladies (and gents) had packed into a Houston-street bar — a respectable crowd at any time, but particularly admirable given that the event succeeded New York City’s biggest snow storm of the season.
Gabi from Viking Penguin suggests using the site Meetup to find like-minded individuals. Groups are listed by location and interest and are run by moderators. Some groups are pretty general, like the outdoor adventurers who belong to The Next Adventure; others, like the the New York Turkish Coffee Group, have rather more specific interests. Like many networking sites, Meetup requires registration and groups must be contacted individually, so it takes time to list events (which are only listed with the approval of the moderator). Still, if you’ve written a book about Turkish coffee, where else can you reach out to 259 people professing a love for Turkish coffee? Actually, possibly at a site like Eventful.
With so many event listings sites available, book publicists can’t realistically take the time to submit information to each one, so authors, if you have time to lend a hand … No doubt I’ve left out other sites that list author talks nationwide. What are some of your favorite?
Late last week a colleague and I met with Perry and Loretta of Hooks Book Events. I’ve been working with Perry for a while now, although over the years she has expanded her business and is now working with many different organizations (government and trade organizations, historical societies, business groups, etc.) in the Washington, DC area. A few things really stand out for me as a book publicist:
- They arrange book sales through Politics & Prose. (No last-minute wrangling with venues / booksellers!)
- They assume most — if not all — authors coming to DC will speak at Politics & Prose in the evening, so their events are held largely in the morning / at lunchtime. There is no conflict between P&P and their events because the latter are held at a different time of day and often are open only to members of the host organization (although they have now started organizing public events).
- There usually is some flexibility in the exact time of the events. Obviously, we want to leave time for the author to do interviews, and Hooks Books is good about accomodating us in this respect — a lunchtime event could start at 11:30 a.m. for example, or it could start at 1 p.m.
- They are interested in serious nonfiction, but this includes everything from business to history to science to politics and more. Books dealing with leadership and the environment / sustainability are particularly popular now.
- They’ve arranged events for big-name authors for thousands of people, but they’ve also held terrific events (and sold a lot of books, i.e., 50+) for mid-list authors.
If they have the staff available, Hooks Books can also sell books at offsite events that you arrange on your own. You can contact them here.
I grabbed some Chinese takeout at a friend’s place before a Friday night showing of The Dark Knight (did anyone not see that movie this weekend?) and it occurred to me that all Chinese takeout food is … exactly the same. Everywhere. Tell me — what dark magic is at work here?!
Bella Stander from Reading Under the Covers posts about book trailers. It’s an informative and comprehensive post that includes links to book trailers and Bella’s take on the advantages and disadvantages of creating them. Some authors comment about their book trailers here.
I’m a big fan of email, but sometimes the phone is the best way to go. Tolly Moseley from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists posts about how you can make phone pitches work for you.
MediaPost talks about the dominance of Web 2.0 (texting, social media, blogging). I have to say, I recently had an author on tour whose schedule changed pretty much every day, sometimes several times during the course of the day as I arranged / rearranged interviews. So it proved pretty handy when I was able to text interview details to the Author / Producer / Media Escort at once rather than having to call numerous people with the information.
Not a good time for newspapers. Massive newsroom layoffs / anticipated layoffs at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Baltimore Sun, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News, the Honolulu Advertiser, the Orlando Sentinel and the (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat. And by now I think we’ve all heard that the last stand-alone book section of the Los Angeles Times will run next Sunday. After that reviews will be folded into the Calendar section.
Unfortunately, folding book sections affect not only book editors and reporters on staff, but freelancers as well. Ed Champion, whose well-known podcast The Bat Segundo Show attracted hundreds of authors over the years, may be forced to end the show (which he largely bankrolled himself) because so many of his freelance gigs have dried up. There may be a Save Segundo Plan in the works, though, so make sure to check back on Ed’s site for updates.