Monday, August 22, 2005

Radio Daze

In my previous post, I openly questioned the effectiveness of radio interviews. To recap:

I was invited to La Crosse Wisconsin to do a library event and a signing at Waldenbooks. The wonderful Terri Schlichenmeyer (rhymes with chickenwire) was able to wrangle three radio itnerviews for me, as well as promote the event on the radio herself. I appeared on four local stations, some of them several times, for three days prior to the event. I was funny, while managing to explain my books and when and where I'd be signing.

La Crosse is a town of about 60,000. How much of that population heard the show, and how many came to my events?

When the day was done, and the numbers had been tallied, the answer was clear:


That's one. Uno. Eins. Un.

I did well at the event anyway. I was at the library for 3 1/2 hours and met everyone who walked into the store, which resulted in 44 books sold. Not bad. But only one of those folks came because they heard me on the radio.

"You were really funny," she told me, "so I came by to get your books." She did buy them both, so about 5% of my sales that day were the result of my radio efforts.

Still, it was pretty enlightening. I walked into the store with visions on long lines and excited fans. Reality is a harsh mistress.

At the library event, I had a lovely chat with two librarians, over the large plate of cookies they bought in anticipation of the huge crowd. They apoloigzed for no one showing up. I apologized for no one showing up. They bought a book out of pity.

Afterward, I called up Barry Eisler, because we like to share marketing info, and I asked him about the effectiveness of media in getting people to events. He shared a story of being on a morning TV show in Portland, speaking eloquently, showing his book jacket, touting his upcoming appearance.

His efforts produced a throng of fan.

Yup, one person.

And that was TV, and Barry is a good-looking, entertaining guy.

The conclusion we drew was that all the publicity in the world won't bring people to you unless the people already know who you are.

Had a bestselling author, like James Patterson, been on TV or on the radio, the fans would have come in droves, because people recognize Patterson.

When was the last time you went to a book signing by an unknown author? What brought you there?

If the brand isn't recognized or doesn't meet a consumer's particular needs, the ad gets tuned out. How many men reading this blog know what Natracare is? O.B.? Gyne-lotrimin? Norplant? Massengill? FDS? Depo-provera? Estroven? Monistat 3? You've been bombarded with thousands of commercials and ads for these feminine products, and even if you recognize the names, and may even have some on your home, its doubtful you know what each one does.

You aren't the target audience, so you don't pay attention to the ads.

And if you're a woman, and you are the target audience for these products, chances are you already have a favorite brand and you stick with it, rather than switch because you hear an ad on the radio for a rival product.

As Barry says, there's no silver bullet---one specific way to slay the beast. As writers we have to keep trying whatever we can, and hope that some combination of our publicity and marketing efforts will get us noticed.

So I'll try radio again. It was fun, and doesn't take up a lot of time. But I won't seek it out. And I certainly won't pay a publicist to get me on the radio, or even TV.

Publicity doesn't work unless you're already a known commodity, and it doesn't work unless your target audience is listening and receptive.


BTW--for those keeping track (hi Maria!) I took an extra day in Wisconsin to do some drive-by signings:

Barnes & Noble in Madison West signed 8 hardcovers and 4 paperbacks.

Waldenbooks in Madison West signed 2 hardcovers and 8 paperbacks.

Borders in Madison West signed 4 hardcovers and 12 paperbacks.

Bookd for Murder signed 3 hardcovers and 14 paperbacks, sold 3.

Barnes & Noble Madison East signed 4 hardcovers and 8 paperbacks, sold 1.

Waldenbooks Madison East signed 2 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks, sold 1.

Borders Madison East signed 2 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks.

Bookworld in Janesville, signed 1 paperback (but they ordered 10 more books)

Waldenbooks in Janesville signed 4 hardcovers, 5 paperbacks, sold 1.

Waldenbooks in Rockford signed 2 hardcovers, 2 paperbacks, sold 2.

Borders in Rockford signed 4 hardcovers, 10 paperbacks, sold 2.

Barnes & Nobel in Rockford, signed 6 hardcovers, 6 paperbacks.

I'm going to be doing drive-bys in Illinois today, accompanied by Melanie Lynne Hauser, whose new book Confessions of Super Mom just hit the shelves. It's super-hero chick-lit with a mystery thrown in. It's also very funny, touching, and a wonderful read. Buy a copy for Mom---she'll love it.

Also visit Melanie at She's got a great website, and many unique ideas about how to promote books. Her booklaunch party is at Anderson's in Naperville, August 25th. I urge all of my blog readers to attend the event if you're able, to see up close and personal how a successful booklaunch works. I'll be there!