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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

READINGS PLUS




Whether you want to or not, giving presentations sells books.  How effective depends on your approach. Preparing well ahead of time, getting involved with your audience, bringing props and food, helps sales and turns out to be fun, too!

For my first book, my knees shook, my voice shook, and I practiced and practiced. Jane Kirkpatrick told about her experiences on the WWW listserv, saying we should remember our presentations were about the BOOK, and each of us is the expert on our own book.  Her words resonated with me, and now, whenever I am nervous, I try to remember:  This is about the BOOK, not me!  My first reading in 2009 was in the town where I grew up--Kellogg, Idaho—and this was the subject of my book—The Good Times Are All Gone Now:  Life, Death and Rebirth in an Idaho Mining Town (University of Oklahoma Press, 2009).  I knew the book and the town as only an insider could.

I sent out hundreds of postcards in advance, both for Kellogg and Seattle and other towns.  I scavenged addresses from my mother and my friends.  I was on Facebook, but fairly new at it, so social media did not play a large part, yet.  I brought large photographs of the town and read a full half hour, taking questions afterwards.  My husband recorded mining songs which we played while we were getting set up and preparing for the audience.  For most venues, many people came and I had standing room only at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.

In the fall of 2015, I again embarked on a reading tour for Moonshadows (Five Star Publishing), a mystery set in 1920s Idaho with a young female photographer.  Although I did send out some postcards, I relied much more on emails of friends and acquaintances, Facebook and newsletters, as well as my website. 

I began in Ketchum, Idaho, at the Community Library to a full house.  My story was set almost out the front door, just short of 100 years ago.  For this second tour to small towns in Idaho, eastern Washington and two bookstores in Seattle, my research into readings in the last few years suggested I plan a different presentation. To set the stage, so to speak, I researched news in the country and the world during 1920, and described the beginning of Prohibition, the passing of women’s right to vote, accomplishments of writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, and music.  I also found tidbits about each town I visited.  I brought along moonshadow photos and a Chinese robe and told its story.

Following this beginning, my husband Gerry Morrison demonstrated a large format (4x5) camera, inviting people to come up afterwards to see what my heroine Nellie Burns might have seen—upside down and backwards.  I read for no more than fifteen minutes with the short prologue and a shortened first chapter. Finally, I recited Billy Collins’s poem, “Forgetfulness,” urging my audience to remember my book or remember me.  Either would be just fine.

Both tours were fun and successful.  A few locations in the smoke-filled northwest didn’t attract many people, but I did my best for those who came.  I recommend setting up a tour and enjoying yourself!  You’ll be glad you did.

My blog has a two part description of my 2015 tour:  www.juliewweston.com/blog.  My website has more information:  www.juliewweston.com.



Julie Weston practiced law for many years in Seattle. Her book, The Good Times Are All Gone Now:  Life, Death and Rebirth in an Idaho Mining Town  won Honorable Mention in the 2009 Idaho Book of the Year Award.  MOONSHADOWS is a finalist in the 2014-2015 May Sarton Literary Award.  Her short stories and essays about Idaho, mining, skiing and flyfishing have been published in IDAHO Magazine, The Threepenny Review, River Styx and other journals. She and her husband live in Hailey, Idaho.
 

12 comments:

Renaissance Women said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences. Each step helps and I thank you for sharing. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

Shanna Hatfield said...

Thank you for walking us through your experiences, Julie. So appreciate your willingness to share! Best wishes! Shanna

Julie said...

Thanks Doris and Shanna! I did have fun, and whenever I got nervous, I remembered Jane's advice!

Mary E. Trimble said...

I attended Julie's presentation at Lake Forrest Park and was sooo impressed. Julie's husband set up his old-time camera and spoke about the procedure, which was interesting. I found Julie composed and her reading selection enticing. Naturally, I bought the book! Moonshaddows is a treasure. Nice blog, Heidi and Julie.

Julie said...

Thanks, Mary! I loved seeing you and Lana at Lake Forest Park!

J.A. Bonney said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences and encouraging us not to rule out giving a presentation about our books just because we might by shy or introverted. It helped to know that you got nervous before speaking the first time, because you are so poised and you are so well spoken. How wonderful that your husband helped, too. Are any of the miner songs available on youtube or elsewhere for listening?

Carmen Peone said...

Thank you for encouraging us in our own journeys, Julie. Your creativity is inspiring. The music and camera are a bonus. I'm thinking about my book signing now. Cheers.

Alice Trego said...

I enjoyed reading about your first speaking gig versus your recent one, Julie. We do grow with practice, and I thank you for sharing your knowledge about book promotion here. Really neat that your husband brought along Nellie's camera and that you included the Chinese robe as additional props to enhance Moonshadows. Good for you!

barbfroman said...

Sounds like you did a lot of work in researching information that would make each presentation special. I wish I could've heard it because it sounds great. Thanks for sharing.

Karen Casey Fitzjerrell said...

Julie - great post. It will help to remember that people have come to hear about the BOOK not me. Thanks for that tidbit. Wishing you great success with Moonshadows...
Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

judy said...

Interesting how the selling of book is so different from the writing. How much time did you devote to the promotion and selling after the publication was ready? Any advice on what to expect is most useful.

Julie said...

I am sorry for being so slow to respond to everyone! J.A., we downloaded the songs from iTunes, which included Heigh Ho from Snow White, Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford, one or two by Rosalie Sorrels and others. Thanks for your comment. I still get nervous--every time--but a glass of wine helps (a small one!) and remembering Jane's comment about the BOOK!

Thanks, also, Carmen, Alice, Barb and Karen. Jane Kirkpatrick was really my inspiration from her email about readings. I am attending a book club next week in my home town and plan to take along the camera, the robe, and some of my 1920s research.

Judy, thanks for your note. The selling is like another dimension from the writing. During the events, I do enjoy doing them, but getting ready and doing promotion are really hard for this introvert! Lining up the reading tour took the most time, but so did organizing email lists, reaching out to bookstores and libraries just to let them know I am available! I have found all the bookstore people so helpful and eager to know more about my book. Librarians too! A small local area library has named me featured writer for 2016 and is sponsoring a reading at a lodge in the Sawtooth Mountains, plus a night at the fabulous Rocky Mountain Lodge in the Stanley Basin. You never know who will resonate with your subject or your writing!

Thanks all, Julie