Post No. 49: Personal Appearances
An hour-long teleconference with the two sales people at Oceanview, plus two of the three owners, and J, the project manager whose job it is to keep everything rolling along. It was depressing.
I did learn a little more about what I will be expected to do. There are three categories of appearance:
- The talk-and-sign is the biggest, and the most risky. Unless you have a big name, you can end up with an audience of one or two.
- The meet-and-greet is when you set up a little table near the front of the bookstore and hope people will wander by, see you, see you with your book, and buy a copy,.
- The drop-by is when you call a couple days in advance and offer to “drop by” and sign a few copies. The benefit here is that your book gets displayed prominently for a week or two.
I have no objection to any of these activities. I see that, like it or not, they are important. But my heart sank when, as we discussed them, the conversation devolved again and again to onesie-twosie selling, thinking about locations where I “had lots of friends” who might show up, as though we were planning a series of Tupperware parties.
In business, you look for leverageable events, and in publishing it would seem there are none, other than personal appearances, which are only good for getting you the next personal appearance. Or at least that’s the case if you’re just starting out.
The leverage, to the extent that it exists, is in the web. To be sure, on the web you’re one voice among over a billion, which would seem to put the odds of “winning” out of reach. But there is another way to look at it. Willy Smith had eight $100 million films in a row, and he did it, according to his own account, by trying to “stand where lightning strikes.” On the web, lightning can strike. At a personal appearance, it can’t.
To be continued…
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Note: I’m using the blog format here to post a journal I have been keeping for some time. We will catch up to the present in a couple of weeks.