Friday, July 22, 2005

Day #6

Not a very productive day today, due to L.A. traffic, which ranks just below kidney stones on my "Things I Hate" list.

Though I spent about 10 hours in the car, I only managed to visit 8 bookstores:

Borders Orange County, signed 1 hardcover, 6 paperbacks.

Barnes & Noble in Irvine, signed 3 hardcovers, 2 paperbacks.

Barnes & Noble #2 in Irvine, signed 4 hardcovers, 8 paperbacks.

Borders in Beverly Hills, signed 1 hardcover and 3 paperbacks.

Borders in Westwood, signed 2 hardcovers and 3 paperbacks.

Barnes & Noble in Westwood, signed 4 hardcovers (couldn't find the paperbacks... I fear they were stripped)

Barnes & Noble at Farmer's Market, signed 4 hardcovers, 6 paperbacks.

There were plenty of other stores I could have visited, but just didn't have the time.

My event tonight was at the Mysterious Bookshop in Westwood, and at 7:00pm I was greated by my throng of fan.

No typo there. One guy showed up (thanks, Stephen Blackmoore!)

That didn't discourage me, because, hey, one guy showed up. Steve's a writer too, and we talked shop for a while. He discovered me through my blog, which was a nice thing to hear---it's nice to know that my words are getting through to you folks. Or, at the very least, getting through to Steve.

Happily, the bookstore had a stack or pre-orders for me to sign, as well as a big pile of stock, which always makes me happy. It was great meeting the managers, Bobby and Linda. They're good people.

Then I signed the infamous Jail Register, a massive book that they've been keeping since the year 2000. Every author that comes in signs their name and vital stats, and everyone tries to be clever.

I saw a lot of famous names, which was cool.

I also saw many more names that I didn't recognize at all, which was very uncool.

I know quite a few folks in the writing community, but about 75% of those names were alien to me.

Hundreds of unknown writers. How many never wrote a second book? How many lost their publisher? How many are chugging along at book #7 and still midlist?

Five years from now, will I be one of the reconizable names, or one of the forgotten hundreds?
Scary, sobering stuff...

As I promised, I wanted to share with my blog readers (hi, Steve!) some names of other authors who also kick-butt on the self-promtion front, to prove that I'm not the only grunt in the trenches.

Barry Eisler has been touring for a solid month, driving coast to coast and visiting dozens of stores. He's also fitting in an occasional TV and radio gig. Barry is very savvy when it comes to promotion, and is a wealth of information and ideas when it comes to that subject. Most importantly, it's working for him. His driving tour is costing his publisher less than the flying/escort standard, but he's able to get more done.

Is it working? He's got a movie option, a Barry Award nomination (no relation), a second printing on his latest book, and he's an IMBA bestseller.

Julia Spencer-Fleming may actually be doing more than I do on the self-promotion front. Assisted by her marketing-genius husband Ross, Julia does drive-bys like crazy. She calls them 'force mulitpliers' (great term) and believes they've helped double the sales of her latest book at the chains. She also does massive mailing campaigns, and networks like crazy.

Is it working? She's an IMBA bestseller, is currently nominated for a Barry Award, and appeared on the Amazon top 25 for her latest book.

I'll list more authors tomorrow. Now. Must. Sleep...

FUN FACT ABOUT LOS ANGELES: The traffic sucks.

7 comments:

Bob Morris said...

Hey Steve -- I'll be in LA at Mysterious Bookshop on Oct. 13. Will you wear your thong?

And Joe, get a grip, mon. It is not your destiny to be mid-list...

Mark Terry said...

Comforting somehow to me that you had a signing like the rest of us. Wouldn't want all that success--and all the eventual uber-success--to go to your head.:) Even Stephen King wrote at one time or another how signings were sometimes disasters with almost nobody showing up. Hard to believe now, but apparently it even happened to him. Head's up. You still rock.
Best,
Mark Terry

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I can only hope you meant "throng", though there have been times, especially at the beach, where I would have quite happily been a thong.

I'm not sure what it says about the state of reading in Los Angeles that I was the only one there. On behalf of my home town I can only hang my head in shame.

On a brighter note the book is great. I have to agree with Bob, mid-list isn't in your cards.

bret said...

Joe, you are a book promoting machine. Even if that machine sometimes gets stuck in sucky L.A. traffic.

Bill Peschel said...

You want despair? Try a Bouchercon mass signing with Joyce Carol Oates in attendance. A line out the door for her, crumbs for everyone else. I'm surprised there wasn't a mass suicide afterwards.

But keep it up, Joe. At least you're entertaining us with your stories, and it sounds like you've built a reserve of good efforts to counter this one signing.

Mark Terry said...

Ha! Got you beat! My signing at Magna was at the same time as Alexander McCall Smith. And sitting next to me was Sandra Tooley who said she'd once signed at the same time as Mary Higgins Clark at Bouchercon, though "signing" isn't the right word. Staring in disbelief or envy at the line is more like it.
Mark

Jim Winter said...

I'd have said my recent Baltimore signing was a disaster, scheduled as it was on Harry Potter day. But it was more a party for several Quiet Storm authors. Anyway, it's about getting to know the booksellers. The fans are icing on the cake.