This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When Your Book Makes the News

            Ten days ago, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, our county’s daily newspaper, ran a news story on my mystery novel, The McHenryInheritance. I had been interviewed by a reporter more than three weeks before that, and for various reasons it took a while for the story to get published. There was nothing time-sensitive about it, so I waited reasonably patiently and was quite pleased with the story and the play when it did come out.
            It appeared on Sunday, the day when the largest number of people read the paper, and took up a big chunk of page 3 in the local news section, with a small photo and a teaser to the story on the front page of the section. The Sentinel is pretty generous about doing stories on local authors, but this was good play by their standards or any other.
            As an author, you expect that media coverage of your book will drive a grateful nation to the bookstores and Amazon to buy many, many copies of it. Typically, that doesn’t happen, but in this case the response was pretty impressive.

All News Is Local

            A caveat of sorts is in order here. I’ve lived in this community nearly 45 years and have been fairly high profile during that time. I was the editor of the county’s other newspaper (now a thrice-weekly), president of the Rotary Club, active in other nonprofit organizations, and involved with community affairs and organizations through my public relations business. There is also a major university here, of which I am considered a respectable alumnus, and which makes this area a community of readers.
            In other words, I know a lot of the people who are avid newspaper readers, and they know me. The Sentinel ran two photos of me with the story, so anyone who reads the paper and knows me would have seen it.
            That stipulated, the response to the story has surprised me. It’s been ten days since it appeared, and on every one of those days, at least one person has commented on the article to me. It’s happened at the grocery store, the bank, community meetings I’ve gone to — you name it.
            A surprising number of the people who talk to me are asking good questions, particularly about what’s involved in self-publishing a book. There seems to be a real awareness among book readers that the book industry is undergoing a sea change, and they want to hear from someone who has had personal experience with it.

Moving People to Action

            As every marketer knows, it’s one thing to get attention, and quite another to get people to act. The news story seems to have generated some action as well.
            Bookshop Santa Cruz, one of the leading independent bookstores in the nation, sold out of my book the day the Sentinel news story appeared. It has since reordered more copies of the book twice. Crossroads Books in Watsonville, where I will be doing a book signing this Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., sold enough copies and got enough inquiries to place a substantial reorder.
            Finally, in the 36 hours after the story appeared, 18 e-books were sold on Amazon. Considering that Amazon sales had been averaging one a day, that’s not bad. What that last number tells me is that while the response is gratifying, there’s a long way to go before the book pays for itself. All I have to do is repeat this experience all over the country, and I’ll have a best-seller. That’s a long road to travel.