Book Marketing 101: Part Four

Though I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I recently did readings while spending a week at Sea Ranch, a coastal community in Mendocino about three hours from my home. The conventional wisdom is that readings are more productive in areas where we have family, friends, or acquaintances. That might be true in some instances, usually at bookstores. But there are exceptions. And that’s what this post is about.

I thought that while I was in the Sea Ranch area, I would try to book events so I could get a broader readership for my novel Fling! I first contacted the only bookstore in Gualala, a tiny town just a few miles from where we were renting a house. I was surprised at how enthusiastic the owner was about reserving a late Saturday afternoon slot during our week 20160709_160317in the area. He told me that the venue has a healthy clientele of mostly regulars but also of those visiting the coast. Since there isn’t much entertainment locally, many residents are eager to attend something out of the ordinary. The owner also recommended that I contact the Point Arena library, a half hour drive further up the coast. And he put me in touch with Peggy, the host of one of the local radio stations so she could interview me.

I followed up and was delighted when Julia at the library signed me up for the Sunday afternoon at the library series. She was also eager to offer her usual visitors an inspiring talk and/or reading. I had planned to frame my discussion of Fling! with a talk on “The Magic in Magical Realism.” Again, Point Arena is another small town whose inhabitants are hungry for enriching programs.

20160709_154446Each of these venues did a great job of advertising its event with flyers, notices on their websites, and postings in the local papers. I happened to pick up the Coastal Observer when I was there, eager to read the local news, and was amazed to find a quarter page write up about myself, something I didn’t expect.

While I was at Sea Ranch, KGUA, the public radio station, did a 25-minute interview with me that featured my upcoming readings and allowed me to give extensive info on myself and my work. I later learned there is another station in Gualala, KTDE, a commercial one, that also would have interviewed me if I’d contacted them, which I will do in the future. In addition, I discovered that authors should submit some sample questions beforehand to the station so the interviewer has material to work with.

This experience helped me to broaden my horizon for doing readings and giving talks. Intimate rural towns can be great resources. They often are hungry for the kind of events that big city residents take for granted.

What has your experience been in booking readings outside of the mainstream?

Seeking Wisdom from Seals

My husband and I have just returned from five glorious days at a house we rented overlooking the ocean at Sea Ranch, an enclave on California’larges Mendocino coast. This escape from urban holiday craziness has become an annual ritual for us. And for the time we’re there, we’re actually transported not just into a different location but also into an altered psychic space.

Most of the usual daily routines fall away and we replace them with ones that fit our new surroundings. Instead of working out on our stationary bike or at the gym, we take long walks on the bluff trail overlooking the ocean, mesmerized by how the sun polishes the sea’s surface to a high gloss and the thundering surf. At some point, we pause to watch the seals lounging on the beach, huddled in groups of large (1)20 or more. Some flop into the ocean in search of food or for a quick dip, but most seem content to just plotz. I understand their motivation. They offer a wonderful model for what I’m seeking in these few precious days by the sea.

Limited external stimulation. Maximum time for internal reverie.

Since we’re experiencing the last few days of 2015, I’m also reflecting on what I’m leaving behind. For over 30 years, I’ve been teaching part-time at Bay area colleges, though mainly at the University of San Francisco. I’m not quite ready to say the word retire, but I plan to take what may be an extended leave of absence from the writing class I teach there. I’ve also resigned from my duties as vice president of the part-time faculty union.

These are big steps for me. I’ve been working all my life, and while I’ll continue doing so in various new contexts (writing, after all is work, as is editing, teaching writing workshops, and tutoring), my income from the classroom, etc., will be gone. Apparently these changes are stirring up early deprivation fears as I’ve had several dreams about not having enough money and needing to find work.

I do look forward to devoting more time each day to my various writing projects and to expanding my marketing outreach for Fling! as well as for the novel I’ll be publishing in 2016, Bone Songs. I feel ready for these major changes, but it’s always a challenge to shift one’s focus, and I’m sure I’ll run into many of them as I shift gears.

I wish everyone a rich and rewarding new year!