THE MAKING OF A BOOK
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PART 27 MARKETING MARATHON
My first event took place at a church in Slidell. Dorothy invited me to speak to the Christian Ladies Book Club. Before the date arrived the energetic and enterprising Dorothy changed the book club meeting into a major event with eighteen authors. With that much competition, I doubted I would sell any books.
A friend had gone with me to the event and agreed to sell books while I talked to the other authors. I knew many of the authors and caught up on their latest exploits in marketing. One of the authors managed to sell 5,000 of her fiction books in three years by selling books at the numerous festivals in south Louisiana. Another author had recouped her entire investment holding educational meetings in public schools. The pastor arrived to support the event. We had a lengthy conversation about the radio station his church recently bought. I returned to my book table to learn someone had paid for my $15 book with a $100 dollar bill, which wiped out my change and we didn’t have Wi-Fi to take credit card payments.
The next marketing opportunity opened at a church in Harvey. A pastor invited me to make a presentation about my book to his Wednesday night Bible study. I had already left late when I reached the “Bridge Closed” sign. I hate being late but had no other choice then take the long way around. Service had started when I arrived. I sat on the pew with my box of books irritated at my tardiness and glad I had opted to read an excerpt from his story, which made it easier to control my tongue.
As service ended, I set my books on the information desk for anyone who wanted to buy a copy. I had trouble receiving credit card payments with my smart phone in Slidell and encountered the same problem. The kind customers dug though their purses for hidden treasure and others borrowed the needed cash.
Saturday, I met with friends at a coffee shop to carpool the Northshore writers meeting. Rebecca and Mary were there when I arrived, but a meeting in Pearl River prevented me from riding with them. We were chatting when Ingrid joined us. She knew Mary and opted to join them for the ride to the Mandeville. I checked the time to see if Dallas was late. When I looked up, I saw her pulling her briefcase out of her trunk as she chatted on her phone.
First stop, the writer’s critique session in Mandeville. I like critiquing but it’s difficult to find a balance between negative and positive comments. In a former critique group, we had a “suck it up” rule. Writing was handed out a week before the critique session. We came prepared to spotlight every flaw and highlight every stellar string of words. The subject of the critique was not allowed to speak until everyone had commented. Few people could tolerate the inability to defend themselves and their precious baby they had labored to produce. Many never returned. The leader of the session had an excellent solution. She prepared worksheets for us to fill out while the authors read one page of their work. We then handed the worksheet to the author who could glean from our comments in private.
After the meeting, Dallas and I left for Pearl River where I was scheduled to address a joint meeting of the Christian Ladies Book Club and Serenity Book Club at a Café. We entered the café to a small turnout and disappointed organizer.
“Eight people committed to attending before I left the house this morning,” she said.
I wasn’t disappointed by the small group. If Jesus can show up wherever two or more are gathered in his name, so can I. There were more than two at the meeting. We had a delightful lunch, talked for hours and I made new friends. The long ride home gave me opportunity to learn more about Dallas and strengthened our friendship. As far as I was concerned, everything that happened that day was profitable.
I arrived home exhausted with a sore throat and runny nose. I went to bed early hoping I would not wake up with a fever. Early the next morning, I awoke with a headache. Two Advil’s and another hour of sleep relieved the pain. I owed Pastor Bill and Tasha a book for contributing their stories and added two books to the usual twenty I bring to promotional opportunities.
Pastor Bill had put an announcement in the church bulletin welcoming me. I was reading the bulletin when a woman tapped me on the shoulder.
“Do you have writings on the internet?”
Clearly, she had stumbled upon one of my four blogs and recognized my name and image. Unsure of which blog she was referring to, I responded with the blog that had the most readers, “I write for NOLA.com’s Faith Blog.” She smiled and sat down.
Service open with wonderful worship music, and I felt stronger as I sang to the Lord. Then I read the same excerpt I had read Wednesday night. The Harvey congregation remained silent during the reading. This congregation laughed at all my attempts at humor.
After the service, I sold more books than expected, saw a display of compassion, and met an interesting person. An elderly gentleman was hanging around the table, eyeing the book.
“I’d like to have a book but don’t have the money,” he said.
A young man standing by the exit door heard him. He pulled out his wallet and handed me a twenty. “Give him the book.” Speechless by the display of kindness the took the book and left.
Once again, my credit card scanner did not work. As I keyed in a sale, I heard a man say, “I want to talk to you when you’re done.”
He bought a book and said, “I’m the man who canceled Mardi Gras. If you write the book, I can have it produced as a movie.”
The first time and only time Mardi Gras was canceled due to a strike Bruno was President of PANO (Police Association of New Orleans). His quarrel with the mayor of New Orleans over police benefits resulted in a police strike. The Governor refused to send the national guard to keep citizens and tourist safe. The krewes responded by refusing to roll the parades canceling Mardi Gras. Bruno became the villain after the city sided with the mayor. He wanted his side of the story told.
He had my full attention, but I did not commit to ghost write his book. I had already been down this road with a pastor. She thought we could talk for a few hours, and I could produce a true story about her life. Writing a true story requires extensive research and validation of information. She had neither the time nor the inclination to commit to the time necessary. I offered to write a short article for the faith blog, and we would discuss ghost writing, but I never heard from him again.
As I was walking out of the church, the woman who asked me if I had writings on the internet waved. “I bought your book with my Ipad.”
She gave me an idea. Before the next events, I solved my problem collecting credit card payments with a Wi-Fi enabled Ipad. My solution cost twice as much as I had made at the previous events. Selling books is expensive.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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