Countdown to Publication 7 days out: Greyhounds and Prelaunch Strategies

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done to sell your books?

I hadn’t ridden a Greyhound bus since I was 14, traveling across Texas with my friend Elsie to visit my grandmother. But there i was last Sunday, rolling along from Burlington VT to Boston because it was impossible to get to my meeting in Boston any other way today.

I'd squeezed in an appearance at the Burlington Book Festival. I didn’t quite “move a mountain of books” as Ric, the Fair’s ebullient organizer, had promised, but I spoke to a roomful of enthusiastic participants, signed a goodly number of books, and many of the women said they planned to visit my website to find out more about the 9 Ways. Plus the spirited conversation at Saturday's authors dinner was great preparation for objections I’m sure to encounter when I talk publicly about women’s relationship with power and why I think women must change how we think about power in order to reach parity in any of our lifetimes. (Check out my book trailer to see stats that will set your hair on fire.)

I was fresh from my first book event back in Arizona, an elegant Northern Trust Bank book tea. It was the perfect cultivation event for their high net worth clients and ideal for me as the author because they buy books for attendees. I want more venues like that and am seeking contacts to pitch at other banks. Selling books in multiples is much more fruitful than one at a time.

So now you know why I got up in the wee hours Friday to fly back to New York, repack and get up in the wee hours Saturday to fly to Vermont for the book fair, only to repack Sunday and head to Boston for a Jewish Women’s Archive board meeting where I promoted the October 12 event they’re sponsoring in Cambridge. (If anyone in the Boston area is interested in attending, please let me know.) Monday, I flew to Kansas City to meet up with the rest of the WomenGirlsLadies intergenerational feminist panel, SheWriter pals Courtney Martin, Deborah Siegel, and Kristal Brent Zook, for a presentation on Tuesday.

My book doesn’t officially launch until Oct. 5, but it’s been available for preorder online for a month and has already made Amazon’s top 100 leadership and women’s history lists a couple of times.

SheWriters, I want to know whether you think it’s a strategic mistake to start doing events before your launch date. What has been your experience? Is it better to stay mum about the book before the launch date? Or is it useful to encourage pre-orders to show the strength of your book? How have you managed to build prelaunch buzz without compromising sales during the first few weeks after your launch?

And what is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done to sell your books. Let me know here in the comments section.

Meanwhile, the leaves had already started to turn up in New England. I leaned back to enjoy the fall colors as the bus rolled along.

Please join me at upcoming events near you, starting next week is New York:
Tuesday, Oct. 5, Barnes and Noble Lincoln Triangle, 7:30 pm.
Thursday, Oct. 7, The Strand, 7pm.
Surprise guests and lots of fun at both.
Here’s the full events list to date.

All blogs, tweets, and Facebook mentions of them will be very appreciated.
Pre-order No Excuses here.

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Tags: #countdown to publication, #gloriacountdown, #marketing, #publishing, event planning, publicity

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Comment by GloriaFeldt on September 30, 2010 at 12:44pm
Thanks for these juicy comments, Kamy and Hope. It seems that as with so many things in life there is no one right answer, you just have to choose a strategy and go with your gut on it. My gut told me that it would be good for me to do a sort of "before I bring it to Broadway" tour where I could hone my presentation. I learn better in front of a live audience than in front of my own mirror or even back when I used to be able to afford a speech coach LOL. I seem to need the reality show as opposed to rehearsal.

Hope, you asked how I booked the events. The best answer to that is I believe the world turns on human connections and I have amassed a lot of those over the years, both professionally and personally. I try never to let them go. So when I started talking about the book on social media and in general conversation, the invitations for the pre-pub events I've done came to me. For example, the Northern Trust event happened because a year ago I had brunch with a friend who brought a friend who worked there. She mentioned their book series. I noted that and when the time came, I contacted her and pitched doing an event. As luck would have it, her boss turned out to be someone I did a lot of political work with back in the day when I was with Planned Parenthood in AZ. And he liked the idea too. So try never to lose track of anyone you have ever come into contact with.

Similarly, though people change and sadly bookstores close over the years, I've kept in occasional touch with venues where I spoke with my previous books. So when my publisher's publicist contacted those, they were generally happy to book me. And once you have some good ones booked, others are more likely to come along. Not that everyone said yes. For example, Politics and Prose is the "must do" DC bookstore. They were not interested. So we went to Busboys and Poets and they booked me. I think this is going to be a better venue anyway because the location is better for everyone who works on the Hill or in downtown DC, plus it's the hotter, newer place that fits my book better. That would be power tool #3 again--use what you've got.
Comment by Kamy Wicoff on September 30, 2010 at 11:22am
I have been hearing from publishers that preorders are REALLY GOOD -- the opposite of what I was told when I published my book, and the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that you wanted a whole lot of orders to happen on your pub date. Preorders, apparently, show booksellers that there is a lot of interest in a book and can turn a bookseller who felt "so-so" about a book (and ordered accordingly), so I think if it's possible it is good to start getting the word out ahead of time. And guess what Gloria, I am going to preorder your book RIGHT NOW! :)
Comment by Hope Edelman on September 30, 2010 at 10:13am
Hi Gloria,
I didn't do events in advance of my pub date because my publisher suggested against it, given that actual books wouldn't be available for purchase yet and we then couldn't count on those sales. I agreed with it at the time, but that was already a year ago and I think that decision comes from a strategic fixation on numbers I'm not sure I adhere to any more. These days, I think it's just as important to reach potential readers however one can, to get your name lodged in their minds, and to brand oneself as a speaker and expert on certain topics. People who hear you speak now may not go home and pre-order the book right away, but next time they see your name in a review or an article it'll trigger the memory of your event, and they may buy the actual book then. So it's all good. Sounds like you have some really terrific events on the calendar! Would you be willing to share how you booked them, especially in advance of publication?
All best,
Hope

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