Kathie Truitt is the author of the exciting new psychological thriller "False Victim" from Tate Publishing. Kathie has done an amazing job in just the first few months of her book's release, and I invited her to answer a few questions in this forum so she could share some ideas and the successes she has found.
What did you do prior to your release date to engage potential readers and generate interest in your book?
I started marketing as soon as I signed the contract. I 'woo-hooed' on Facebook and e-mailed everyone in my contact list. When acquaintances or people asked me, "What do you do?" or "Where do you work?" I told them, "I'm a writer." Of course, they'd then ask me more questions, which would give me the opportunity to say that my first book would be out in late summer. I blogged about writing a book as soon as I put pen to paper. Before I even finished the first chapter, I decided to take my blog readers along with me on the journey. I completely threw my pride out the window. After all, what if my manuscript didn't get picked up by anyone? These were legitimate concerns - so I blogged about that, too. I took my reader on every single disappointing, frustrating and elatable moment. I wanted them to see the process regardless of where it took me - or didn't take me. When my release date was finally in sight I had built up a huge following.
What has made your book signings successful?
I always send out e-mails to everyone in my contact list just telling them where I'll be for the week. I know that's a lot, so I usually preface it with a joke, "Okay, friends...I know you're probably 'Kathie Truitt-ed' out, but I'm going to be in
this week so if you have any friends/family in that area, please send them my way." People are always glad to help, and I always have people show up saying that 'so-and-so' sent them. I send out messages to Facebook friends who live in the vicinity of where I'll be. I usually do this two weeks in advance and then do a reminder about 3 days before hand. I constantly post my schedule on my blog. I try to have a book club in whatever city I am in, and I also send messages out to previous book clubs I've visited so they can spread the word. Oh! I almost forgot - every author absolutely MUST have a Facebook fan page! I always post my schedule on my fan page, too. But the one thing I do that helps me sell more books than anything else? I take an assistant (friend) with me with a huge stack of push cards, and I have him/her gently pass them to people throughout the store. It's never, ever a 'hard-sell' - just very gently, "Here's the synopsis of Kathie Truitt signing her novel today. It's getting rave reviews throughout the country and if you like suspense/thrillers you'll love this." Seriously, I sell more books at a book signing by using that approach than any other way. On those days that I don't have an assistant with me and have to do them myself, I don't do as well, but I still don't let it deter me. But I have to tell you that when I travel out of town I either take someone with me (I'll either pay for their plane ticket, or if they buy their ticket I'll take care of meals, etc.) or I ask a Facebook friend or someone I know in the area to meet me at the bookstore. I pay them $25.00 for the duration - although no one has ever taken me up on the offer to pay them. They're usually just excited to be there with you and to see what goes on. Timbuktu
What are a few simple things you have done to spread the news about your book?
I cannot stress enough how important 'networking' is. I have an acquaintance in my area that is very socially prominent. I gave the book to him to read saying, "If you like it, wonderful…if you don't, then let's not mention it ever again. No hard feelings." He LOVED the book and has been a huge help publicity-wise. He is every bit as good as Traci (my Tate Marketing Rep) is except for the fact that he is local. He also acts as a publicist of sorts for me in this area - he helped me get an endorsement from the Washington Post and several other suburban newspapers and speaking engagements. So it is very important to join clubs - your Chamber, Junior League, Ballet Board - anything that gets you out there and noticed. Or find that ONE person that likes to be recognized for promoting the 'next big thing' and likes to brag about it. They will be your best friend!! I also sent copies of the book to several magazines across the country before I'm going to do a signing, and to several local newspapers that have done articles.
What advice would you like to give your fellow authors?
A few weeks ago I attended an author event in my state. While there I met a beautiful, intelligent, sweet-as-honey young author. Imagine my delight when I picked up her book and realized it was just my type of book - you know, the kind you want to buy, rush home, fix a cup of steaming hot chocolate and settle down in front of the fireplace. We were talking and she said her book wasn't doing too well. I started asking her some questions - she'd gone through a move half-way across the country, had a baby, and really didn't have time to dedicate that she'd like. All of these understandable - except she lived smack dab in the middle of a place where folks would absolutely eat up that genre. I listened to her talk some more. Finally, I asked her, "When people ask, 'What do you do?' what do you tell them?"
She looked shyly at me and very timidly, almost inaudibly said, "I tell them I'm a housewife and stay-at-home mom."
I shook my head and replied, "No, you are a writer! An author! The husband and children are personal information. But your occupation is 'writer'."
So in wrapping up, I guess the important things I want people to take away from this is to stop and think before they speak to people about what they do as a writer. Until you start taking yourself seriously and are confident enough to speak professionally about what you do, then it's hard for others to see you in a professional light.