I flew to Texas last week, met Gary Moore (author of Playing with the Enemy), and together we drove into Louisiana to attend a host of events. I posted a short blog during one of them. My days with Gary are always enjoyable, and these in particular confirmed once again what authors must do if they want to be successful.
I know some of you are thinking, "Well, that guy has a movie deal. His book is different than mine." That mindset is so shortsighted it makes a publisher pull his remaining hair out.
The fundamentals for selling any book are essentially the same. Here is the secret: talk about your book as often as you can, with as many people as you can, for as long as you can, wherever you can, even if you don't sell a single copy when you do. Oh, and there is a follow up: REPEAT--REPEAT--REPEAT.
A few months ago, Gary ended up in Northern California for a few events that included one book signing (which was moderately successful) and addressing a handful of schools where we did not sell a single book. And we did not think we would. So why bother flying across the country on Southwest Airlines and going through the hassle? Because Gary gets it. He knows what I know, and what I tell all our authors: you never know who is listening, who they know, or what they can do for you.
After a talk in a middle school in Placerville, California, one of the teachers told us she had a niece who teaches in a very poor school in Louisiana where some of the book takes place. On her own, she called her niece and recommended Gary as a speaker. That, in turn, led to the development of a very lucrative three days for not only the author and publisher, but for a lot of kids whose lives were enriched by hearing Gary speak.
Sarah Keeney, our marketing director, worked with the Louisiana teacher, Gary, and other outlets to craft a whirlwind tour that included two paid addresses in front of the Shreveport, Louisiana, Bar Association, a TV interview, two radio interviews, a half-dozen presentations to various schools, a wonderful book signing with other Savas Beatie authors including Gary Joiner (Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862) and Terrence Winschel (Triumph & Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign) at Windows, A Book Shop (in Monroe, LA), and more.
The "and more" included outstanding connections with Louisiana Tech officials interested in bringing his book into the school's curriculum--but only after they came and heard him speak. Sales of Playing with the Enemy--and many other Savas Beatie titles--were exceptional, and the network we developed in Northern Louisiana will be a goldmine for everyone in the future.
None of this would have been possible if Gary had not traveled a long way to gamble on who might be listening as he talked about his book for the 1,000th time to a group of (often) uninterested school kids in Northern California.
And in case some readers are wondering, Gary's book came out in 2006! He is now planning for next week, next month, and for the next three years (no, I am not kidding).
I know many of the readers of this blog have a book (or soon will) with Savas Beatie or another publisher. Do you have copies with you all the time? Have you sent a letter to everyone you know telling them about your book? Are you talking about your book as often as you can, with as many people as you can, for as long as you can, wherever you can, even if you don't sell a single copy when you do? Are you asking people who they know in the media that can help you?
The honest answer to that question will explain a lot the next time you open a royalty statement or read in the news about some author who has a bestseller that is no more interesting than the book you spent years working on. What does he know that you do not? What is he willing to do that you are not?