We made it through an entire week together, the Early Bird and the Nighthawk, and managed to accomplish exactly what we set out to do – raise awareness of Darcie Friesen Hossack, and of her newly published book,Mennonites Don’t Dance, and we even sold a good number of books along the way.
Now, book sales are how everyone else in this business gauges success of a promotional campaign; I’m trying to convince the traditionals that getting the name of the author out there, encouraging readers to discover a new author’s work, and making sure the author meets all of the most important people who will then talk up her book, will lead to book sales – but none of this can happen overnight. If you don’t tell readers about a new book and its author, how will they know to buy, borrow and read it, and then recommend it to their friends? What I’m trying to do as Writer Wrangler (my sister’s new title for this job I’ve created – manager just never seemed exact) is raise the profile of authors, and all their work, not just their most recent publication – but I am not trying to duplicate what publishers are already contracted to do for these authors, by way of promotion and publicity. I’m also helping authors develop other areas where they might be active, or creative – as journalists, speakers, teachers – trying to find them paid gigs, and introducing them to specific groups of readers, especially those who never set foot in a bookstore or a library, and who may not otherwise have been aware of these authors or bought/borrowed their books.
Darcie has been a food columnist for her local Kelowna and area print newspapers for six years. Her column now also appears in The Calgary Beacon, online. These past few months, Darcie has appeared online in an informal blog tour, which is soon to be ramped up towards December. Mennonites Don’t Dance is now listed on Book Club Buddy, and book clubs across North America can read an interview with Darcie, reviews of the book, and consider adopting it for discussion. (Thanks, Pearl Luke!) We’ve planted the seeds for a much more comprehensive tour of the Prairies during Spring 2011, and hope to promote several other Mennonite authors at the same time. People may have come for the cream cookies served at several readings in Calgary and Lethbridge last week, but they also enjoyed what they heard, and bought many copies of Darcie’s book.
Finally, I introduced Darcie to as many booksellers, librarians, friends and readers as I could during the week. This is word-of-mouth promotion, folks, and it still works better than any other kind there is. I have no doubt that readers will now “discover” this new writer over the coming weeks, months, and that Mennonites Don’t Dance will sell through, steadily, into the spring when we will be organized to do this all over again, and further afield, spreading the word about this great author and her book.
Please note, as Writer Wrangler I will not take on any author for promotion unless I truly believe in them, and their work – and in their ability to help themselves by working hard to promote, in a positive, unagressive way. As a reader, I endorse the writing of all the Alberta Books Canada authors: Betty Jane Hegerat, Bob Stallworthy, Deborah Miller, Barb Howard and Susan Calder, and of my former Humber classmate, Darcie Friesen Hossack, who has done exactly as we all expected… was the first in our class to be published, and has written a book that I am now very proud to help her to promote.
So, I’m very pleased to be able to say, “I’m with the author!” After all, if it weren’t for great authors like these, we wouldn’t have books to sell, buy, borrow, read, and enjoy.
Here’s Darcie’s take on the week of Oct. 17th – 22nd:
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day one
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day two
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day three
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day four
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day 5
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day 6
And then, we get to taste the fresh fruits of our labours! Makes it all worth while…