Countdown to Publication: Other Venues
Written by
Lori L. Tharps
August 2010
Written by
Lori L. Tharps
August 2010
Once upon a time, soon after I’d left the protective walls of my single-sex college in New England, I became a publicist in Manhattan. I worked for a high profile, multinational company that boasted several different divisions. My client list included a major candy company, a family friendly cruise line and a podiatrist who wanted to give Dr. Scholl’s a run for his money. I hated my job but I learned a lot about running a successful publicity campaign. Almost twenty years later I’m reaching back to my publicist years for inspiration and guidance to plan my book tour for Substitute Me. Since Substitute Me is my third book, I’m not a complete novice, but it is my first novel so the venues I can approach – either for publicity purposes or as a signing spot – are a little different. In addition, with a non-fiction title, there’s a presumption of a news hook or at least there was with the books I wrote. With Substitute Me however, my basic pitch is that this is just a really good story. So I have to get creative with my venues. What’s more, considering the fact that a lot of the chain bookstores are as hard to break into as Fort Knox, it makes even more sense to try some alternatives to the bookstore for hosting my events. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. First I concentrated on defining my target audience. Women. Break that down to women with children who might have some insight or opinions on nannies. And of course, I included women who are nannies or might have once been a nanny. Not to mention that woman we all love, the one who loves to read good novels about other women. So I asked myself, where do these women hang out? One idea that popped into my head was a local indoor playground that is outfitted with free wi-fi, a café and plenty of tables and chairs for grown-ups, a.k.a. a rapt audience for a book reading. I pitched the idea to the manager of the playground and not only did she like the idea, she thought it would be a great way to increase traffic on a weeknight when business was usually slow. So moms can come to a book event, the kids can play, and the business owner can ply all the visitors with her cookies and juice boxes. Everybody’s happy and I’ve reached one segment of my target audience. Some of the other alternative venues where I’m thinking about trying to have an event are home stores like IKEA and Pottery Barn. They both show up in the book and I’m hoping store managers might like the idea. They might not but it’s worth a shot. I’m also approaching a few churches because I’ve discovered some churches have their own internal book clubs. And the other alternative venue I’m going to try, one that worked for my first book, Hair Story – for obvious reasons – is the hair salon. Rapt audience of women, nothing to do, usually cash on hand. Of course it is hard to be heard over the hum of a blow dryer, but I’ll still try. What about you She Writers? Besides the bookstore, what other venues have you held a book signing or event?

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  • Rachel Unkefer

    Don't forget about writers' groups. In Charlottesville, we have WriterHouse ( where we host 1-2 authors per month to talk about some aspect of their craft. Last night Dylan Landis talked to an audience of about 30 and we sold a lot of books. Anyone who will be in Virginia should contact us ([email protected]) about setting up an event. We do a lot of publicity, podcast the discussion and sell books. No guarantees, though. If you're a young adult author and we've recently had a YA event, we'll likely pass in the interest of variety. We also don't do events with self-published authors.

  • Lori L. Tharps

    Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I love the airport idea and I'll def. check on

  • Kathy Jordan

    Hi Lori--Did you see Debbie's post Friday about the upcoming monthly Twitter book launch parties? First one will be Tuesday Aug 24th for members' August books. I hope you can participate to promo your book. More details coming this week on SheWrites and/or contact me. Thanks!

  • Julie Jeffs

    My suggestion, whatever cities you plan to visit on tour check out in that city and look for bookclubs then e-mail them and see if they would like to host a reading. I started up a bookclub in Nashville when I moved here (in order to meet other readers) and we quickly had a hundred members. There is also often writers meetups (the one in Nashville boasts about 700 members I think), they would love to publicize a reading I would think.

  • Rebecca Rasmussen

    Good idea ladies. Thank you for sharing!

  • GloriaFeldt

    A friend of mine approached bookstores in a couple of airports that she frequented. They were delighted and this got her book positioned at the front of the store for quite a while as well as giving her a platform for an evening.