Last December, Kathleen Novak wrote her first blog for us (I AM ALWAYS WRITING), even though her first novel, Do Not Find Me was not released until the beginning of March. This latest blog has a lot to say about successful marketing and it is charming, funny, unique, and true, and I heartily recommend it to one and all. With that I turn you over to Kathleen:
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"This is my fortune in the cookie and exactly what I say to myself about Do Not Find Me, my first published novel. I am not, however, simply waiting for good things to happen. Six months before the book’s release I gathered a small group at my house, offered up a great lunch and plenty of prosecco and asked for input on how to launch my book locally. One of the women is a veteran novelist, a complete pro, and she said – throw a party. Make it big. Rent the VFW or any large space and invite everyone, friends, relatives, neighbors, work colleagues, gym buddies, school moms, everyone. Send invitations via mail and have food at the party.
"So that’s what I did. I rented a room on the top floor of our contemporary art museum and sent out a hundred postcard invitations that showed off Lon’s beautiful cover of the book on the front and the invite information with a Kirkus review excerpt on the back. The result was a warm, happy event with about one hundred and twenty-five people, who all seemed to be having a grand time. My dental hygienist was there, my old dad in his fishing hat was there and the couple whose bookstore I managed back in the 1970s were there. It all worked – and I sold seventy books in an hour.
"Around the same time that I invited “advisors” over for input last fall, I started scribbling a plan of what I needed to do month by month, including reaching out to stores I hoped would carry the book and local literary stars I hoped would review it. Using my stash of preview copies from TPP (a most generous and brilliant gift from publisher to writer), I sent out personalized packets. I saw in a web search that Tattered Cover Books in Denver is considered number one among indie booksellers, so I called them and sent a packet. It turns out that they have a high regard for TPP and liked my letter, so they accepted the book. This made me happy and had the added benefit of impressing my high school boyfriend who lives there. Not all outreach yielded results, of course, and I hate rejection as much as anyone, but I do believe it’s important to give these things a try.
"A month before the book release date, I wrote press releases to our two large newspapers here. TPP printed these on their letterhead, Marty signed them and I sent out packets with a personal note to the reviewers. I am a total nobody, so I doubted my book would rise to the top of their stacks, but I was wrong. Both papers published glowing reviews beyond my wildest expectations. (The St. Paul Pioneer Press reviewer essentially said my book was worth reading twice!) And because of those reviews the libraries have overwhelming requests for the book and have had to order more for their shelves.
"The above-mentioned veteran writer (Faith Sullivan, author of Goodnight, Mr. Wodehouse, which was one of the Wall Street Journal’s ten best novels of 2015) also told me to have my friends host small gatherings of people I don’t know, where I may extend my audience, read an excerpt and sell a book or two. I love this idea. My first one will be next weekend, a cocktail party late on Saturday afternoon. So far, I have four other friends who have offered to host such gatherings and two women at the gym an hour ago who thought it a grand idea to host one too.
"I’d like to get a bit of visibility through my efforts and hope that some of these ideas work for others as well. I also want to underscore Victoria Alexander’s recent blog about the Dactyl reviews for literary fiction. I am eager to participate in that ingenious idea and thank her for sharing the opportunity.
"My brother the doctor told me last week that he loves fortune cookies, but never reads the fortunes. Too much hokus pokus. But how about these:
You Will Get The Recognition You Deserve and
You Have Much Love
"Who would throw those away? Not me. I’m hanging onto them. Just in case I really am UNDER LUCKY STAR."
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I hope you’ve not only enjoyed Kathleen’s blog but that it also raised a unique way of selling books. Do feel free to contact Kathleen directly at email@example.com. I ask, as always, that you post your comments below, and—if you will—send a copy of her blog to all your friends and acquaintances who might find it helpful.
And for those of you awaiting Danner Darcleight’s two part blog, I’ll be postponing that again...this time, it’s cross my heart and not my fingers. I can only say it will be worth the wait.