Saturday, February 27, 2016

Programs and Signings: A Beer, a Muffin and a Book

by Lesley Diehl

What do libraries and bars have in common? I like both and they like me. I do signings and programs in them. Both places have interesting people so, if you don't sell a book, at least you have some cracking good conversations with the folks there.

Friends of the library--not all libraries have them, but once you find libraries that do, you've uncovered the mother lode. Libraries have local authors and often the friends group arranges author programs. And they usually provide food after the program. 

I did a book launch for my novel set in rural Floria, in the local library. I wanted to do something different so I made up baskets themed around my protagonist's  journey in the book and that of other characters. I think this works best with a humorous story, which mine was. One basket was the "Clara Gets Out of Jail." It included bath salts, fancy soap, a loofah sponge, a bath pillow, a very classy champagne glass and a split of champagne.

Wouldn't you want this when you got out of the lock-up? I had my attendees drop their names in a cowboy hat, and we pulled winners of the baskets out after my short program. Many of the baskets held some kind of beverage (the one for guys had a beer glass and a bottle of beer and was fashioned around one of my male characters). I spent the money making them as I went to yard sales and the dollar stores for the items.

Another great place where I signed is a nearby restaurant featuring local microbrews. Since one of my books features a microbrewer accused of murder, it was a perfect setting for people to grab a brew and snack on food I've provided. I don't do programs there, just signings. The protagonist of my Florida book is a bartender at a country club, so I'm now moving on to golf and country clubs for book events. My signing at  restaurants, bars, country clubs, breweries and golf courses sell my books as well as promote the businesses. They seem to love having me there, and I certainly enjoy several hours of chatting with their patrons.

Who cares if I sell a book? Well, I do, but I never feel cheated if I don't because I've spent an enjoyable evening with some entertaining people. I usually give the business a complimentary copy of they book and they often display it somewhere on the premises. One brewery bought a dozen of my books to sell.

My philosophy is if a reader complains it's impossible to hold a drink in one hand, a muffin in the other and buy one of your books, offer to hold the muffin.

(Excerpted from The Mystery Writers where you can read former psychology professor Lesley Diehl's interview as well as writing advice from sixty other writers.)  

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