Publishing consultant Carol Hoenig peers behind-the-scenes of bookstore events.
Even though my counterparts worked from the Borders Group, Inc. corporate office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the big wigs felt it was important to have a connection based out of Manhattan working directly with the publishers and their authors. Therefore, I was hired as a national event specialist, but worked out of the Borders store on Park Avenue.
What made my position unique was that I got to oversee many author events, witnessing what worked and what didn’t. I took mental notes of this while writing my novel in anticipation of doing my own book tour
. In 2005, after having been with the company for over 11 years, I went out on my own as a freelance writer and publishing consultant, which happened to be the very day I got my first book review for my novel Without Grace
, which was a wonderful, heart-stopping review, by the way. (Whew!)
I remembered those authors who were gracious and behaved professionally when only a couple of seats were filled at an event. They knew that the store and the events manager did everything they could to fill those seats, but that there’s never a guarantee of how many people will actually show up. The author’s good graces meant that the booksellers were more willing to hand sell their book than from the author who berated them when the turnout for their event was less than expected.
I also recalled the celebrity who was staying at the Trump Tower around the block from the store and continually sent over his handlers to see how big the line was; unfortunately, the small gathering wasn’t big enough for this celebrity, so he had his manager call the store and say that his car was stuck on the Long Island Expressway and that he wouldn’t be able to make the signing. Hmm, the LIE, huh? How appropriate. When the few people who had shown up found out that the celeb canceled his appearance at the last minute, they returned the CDs they’d bought for his signature and didn’t have very nice comments to make about him.
These lessons remained with me and, not only for myself, but when I guide other authors doing events, I strongly encourage them to treat each person who showed up for them with respect. No matter if there’s two or two hundred, the author is wise to give their all
. Trust me, I’ve had authors show little regard to those who took the time to show up when the turnout was small and have hurt possible sales by their unappreciative attitude. I’ve also seen booksellers pull down the author’s book display as soon as the author left the building.
So, yes, while I traveled all along the Eastern seaboard doing events at a number of places, some where only three people showed up, I always managed to sell books because, first, I like meeting people and, second, I wanted each person to know I appreciated the time they took to meet me. What is also true, is that bookstores aren’t necessarily the best place to do an event
; it may be where the books are, but not necessarily where your audience will be. I did an event at my hair salon—twice, several book discussion groups, and schools; oh, and several bookstores. Sometimes all the chairs were filled, other times most of the chairs were empty. Still, I kept thinking how fortunate I am to do what I love. And now that I have been in my own business for five years, I still feel the same way.
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Questions for Carol? Need help with your own author event, at a bookstore or elsewhere?
Description of Services
Carol works with writers no matter where they are in the process. In addition, due to her experience as having been a National Event Specialist for Borders Books for several years, she is available to She Writes authors by providing publicity, marketing and event planning services.
About Carol Hoenig
Carol Hoenig is a fulltime freelance writer, publishing consultant and a multi-award winning author. Of her many credits, Carol contributed to Putting Your Passion into Print
. Carol is on the advisory council for Author Solutions and was on The New York Center for Independent Publishing advisory council and writer’s conference committee for five years before it disbanded. She was the Director and Writer-in-Residence for Old Forge Library Adirondack Summer Writing Workshop for 2008. She is Editorial Director for Worthy Shorts and is a member of the Women’s Media Group. For more information, visit www.carolhoenig.com.
Carol is available for a She Writes Virtual Lunch—a comprehensive hour-long phone consultation for 100