|Kate Johnson and Liesel Schwarz - best dressed?|
I wrote this blog immediately after attending the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) promotional event at Blists Hill Victorian Town in early July. I loved the event and it certainly sparked a whole lot of ideas!
Ask almost any writer if they are good at marketing and they will say – NO! Yet as more and more of us are self-publishing or being taken on by small independent publishers we are expected and need to do more of our own marketing. Even the larger publishing houses expect us to have (and maintain) our own blogs/web pages/twitter accounts, etc.
The ‘Meet The Author’ event at Blists Hill was a great example of face-to-face marketing. It took place immediately prior to this year’s RNA conference. To fit in with the setting – a superbly reconstructed Victorian town – the event focussed on historical and steampunk romances. Many of the authors dressed up – brilliantly!
The whole Goods Shed was filled with tables laden with books. But it wasn’t just books. There were also bookmarks, real histories, imagined histories, information on a specific theme (e.g. odours and malodours in history, along with sample perfumes), chocolates, quizzes, badges, fans… All this was intended to attract the interest of the general public and it certainly did. There was a steady stream of visitors throughout the four-hour session, most browsing and chatting, a few buying.
Pia Fenton (Christina Courtenay) even gave an impromptu lecture on the history of perfumes to a group of visiting school children!
What did I learn from this event?
- For the author, it is important to have fun, and to look like you’re having fun
- Be friendly and willing to chat, but don’t be pushy
- Items associated with your books are useful talking points, especially if they can be handled (Romy Gemmel and Anne Stenhouse’s toys were particularly popular, see below)
- Don’t expect to sell many books. The event is as much about getting your name out there and promoting future sales/library borrowings as it is about sales on the day.
- A shared promotional event is both more enjoyable (less stressful?) for the authors and more interesting to the general public.
I’d be interested to hear from writers (and readers!) about other promotional events.