Winterfair in Hartford, Connecticut
The 2022 holiday season was the first year that I made a serious effort to market my books directly to readers at live events. When State v. Claus was published in the fall of 2020, we were still in the throes of the pandemic, and so live events weren’t an option. The following year, when My Brother, Romeo came out, I wasn’t certain how to market it since it’s a novella and only available as an ebook, but I figured there was no point in a live event when people couldn’t buy a signed copy of the book.
I did two live events in 2021. One was a multi-author event held by my local bookstore at the town’s annual arts fair. All I had to do was show up, read, answer a few questions, and sign books after presentation. The bookstore did the rest, including the actual selling of the books and the marketing of the event.
The other event was at a local Christmas tree farm that wanted to create more of a draw for customers. I set up a small table in their greenhouse next to Mrs. Claus and hung out for a few hours, chatting with whoever paused for a candy cane.
Neither event resulted in many sales, but they proved a good way to get my feet wet. More importantly, they impressed on me the importance of handselling a book, i.e., talking to a potential customer about it. This impression was confirmed when I volunteered at the bookstore’s Independent Bookstore Day in April. When a young woman asked me for a recommendation, I inquired about what she liked. She wanted fiction, and she liked romance and fantasy. I really did try to come up with another title, but finally I said, “Maybe you’d be interested in my book.” I told her about it; with great excitement, she not only bought it, but recommended it to a friend who was there—who also bought a copy. Both women were delighted to have met the author and gotten signed books, and I was thrilled to have met such enthusiastic readers.
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