I know. I'm retired. And retirees are supposed to have all the time in the world, right? Maybe someday, but not these days. I intend to devote a blog a week to the journey I'm on with There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go. But folks, I'm typing as fast as I can, and I'm still behind!
I've picked up three new bookings and one possible one since yesterday afternoon. That means corresponding with the persons issuing the invitations, getting it squared away with our mutual calendars, and confirming the specific type of program they want, or maybe a discussion, or something else. Then sending some "press kits," the fancy term for information and photos.
All of that is wonderful, but leaving me behind on this blog, and on the programs I'm creating for upcoming outings.
Last week was about as perfect of a warm March day as an indie author can get. Loretta Sutherland and staff at the Sheridan Public Library had everything in perfect order when I arrived early to get my bearings. (A little secret: I love showing up early for library programs and soaking up the atmosphere.)
Arriving and setting up early allows me time to freshen up, set up my table, make sure a lectern and sound system are in place, and best of all ... visit with early arrivals.
Sheridan Readers are a great group. Some of the library patrons and book club members brought amazing heirlooms for a show-and-tell activity.
I didn't get all their permissions to show photos, so won't, but the stories generated from stuff include a yellowed newspaper ad for Sunkist Tuna. A lady's mother won $10,000 in the advertised contest and the money was life-changing for the family. A man displayed his Railroader grandfather's precision pocket watch; and there were gorgeous vintage post cards, and so much more.
Loretta's round table linen is in beautiful condition. She explained that part of its function was to cover the leftover food so that it could be left on the table following a meal.
As a personal bonus, son Ben was able to drop in for the program and help me pack up afterward. He enjoyed the early evening as well and then, we went to a late supper and enjoyed an hour together visiting.
If your book club or library would like to hear about my programs, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now back to my regular programming ... for the next stop on this journey.
What have I been up to for the past week or two? Prepping for the busy spring season of book presentations and all-out fun. By far, spring is the busiest time for my kind of indie author journey. It's filled with all sorts of opportunities to give a talk to a library book club (such as the Sheridan Readers), participate in a book discussion (and lunch!) with a home-based reading group; present a program and sign books in my hometown (Saturday, April 1) and speak at mother-daughter banquets. Also, work in a Red Hatters group, women's groups, and a state conference, and there you have my spring.
The prep involves writing new programs or tweaking others, gearing each to the particular audience or purpose of my invite. Between now and the start of summer, I have 14 gigs of various kinds. Each is an opportunity to interact with readers and to look for the blessing--because there always is one or many.
Prepping for a program involves more than script writing. It includes assessing what the host expects from my visit--not only in terms of content, but publicity--and what special needs are requested, such as a table to accommodate themed props that complement the book, copies of the book, a lectern, sound system, and other tech needs.
This morning I sent out three press releases for an upcoming venue. I view the releases as both a way to invite the public, but also a means of publicity for perhaps future invites. It's akin to throwing out a line and waiting for a nibble.
Every author approaches a book launch differently. Some might rent a facility, book a caterer, and mail out invites to guests for the official "launch." I would find that intimidating and prefer more of a soft launch approach in letting my various venues become my "launch."
The word "launch" is a bit of an unsettling term for me, personally. It feels as though there will be a big bang involved, the ground will shake, the earth will move. I'm not up to the pressure of that level of hype. I see "home-based" launches on programs, maybe C-Span at a rich author's Martha's Vineyard summer home or something. They sip cocktails and maybe someone plays the grand piano. That's not me.
So I move about the state when invited, and enjoy the journey, a soft launch.
This spring, I'll be in Sheridan, Springport, Liberty,, Fishers, New Castle, Knightstown, Selma, Hagerstown, Richmond, and Brookville--some, multiple times.
Meanwhile, here's a couple photos from what I've been up to recently.
March meeting of Writer Chicks Society met in the Fairmount Public Library. Shout out to Linda, the accommodating librarian who has permitted us to meet in her cozy library twice now. March hostess was Cathy, who arranged for our venue, a pitch-in chili meal, and guest speaker Gloria Doty.
Gloria's prolific work spans genres that include cowboy romance, devotions, children's books, and a memoir. Gloria has developed a loyal team that handle editing, cover design, and interior layout so that Gloria can focus on her writing.
She's a speaker, and is comfortable with what works for her. Learn more about the Fort Wayne-based author at www.facebook.com/gloriadotywriter or on her website, www.writingbygloria.com.
As indie authors, we're all about creative ways to get our books out there. I put it on social media when I'm headed to Henry County. I spent 31 years working in the communities there covering people's stories--and lives. I still write a twice-monthly column for the New Castle Courier-Times, two other daily papers, and for a news and sports blog.
When long-time reader Phyllis in Henry County called to tell me she would like a couple signed books, I promised to stop by that week on my way to New Castle. We had a nice visit, and she wanted to show me something.
When she opened the doors to her pie safe, inside were a variety of files ... at first I didn't understand what I was looking at. Look closely, and you might see that my name is on two thick, blue volumes. Those contain clippings from stories I have written over the decades.
Can I tell you that I was stunned? It fills a special place in my heart to know that my articles and columns have been clipped, saved, and preserved by a reader! Phyllis! I'm touched deeply. When I got into the car, I found she wrote the check for more than required. When I went back to the house to tell her and refund the excess--Phyllis said the $5 was a tip for delivering the books. Can you believe it? It was beyond a blessing to chat with her that day. Thank you, Phyllis.
The journey continues. Can we write the obituary for COVID? I think I shall give it a stab (pun intended) for my next newspaper column. It sure is good to get out and see everyone.
Pre-spring blessings to you all. See you down the road.
When you are indie published, the author hat comes off, and the marketing one goes on. Not only marketing, but the scheduling, speechwriting, and distribution hats.
One could work fulltime plus overtime to reach out to all the people, and do all the things, that the professionals recommend in the weeks following a book launch. But when you are one, and not a team, it takes time.
One thing I wanted to get to on my list was contact Kay Marrero of Fishers. Her Creek Readers group is composed largely--maybe exclusively--of retired teachers from the Fishers area.
Here's a funny story about networking. One would assume that Brian somehow connected me with this wonderful book club. He spent the bulk of his career as a Fishers educator. That would only make sense, right? But no!
It was a New Castle friend who connected me. Mary Malone's best friend is a Creek Reader. Mary shared my first book with her pal, Rita, who shared it with her book club. Mary picked me up one night and off we went to a meeting where we discussed the book. Can I even begin to tell you the thrill involved in being asked questions about your "baby," -- your book-- by interested readers?
Then they invited me in to do the same with the second novel.
Since that was five or six years ago, I wondered if the club was still going strong. I couldn't seem to find Kay's contact information! Well, again, Mary saved the day. She reached out to Rita, and Friday night, my cell phone rang. It was Kay, excited about the new book and by the way, she has the pick for May and it's There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go.
She needed nine copies for the group. We met yesterday for the hand off.
Kay also plans to share Clydesdale with another book club she's in, the Fishers United Methodist Church. The club also read my novels. What fun it was, too, to meet with them for the discussion.
This is why I informally call my book journey my Tupperware party. One gathering leads to another. You never know where the ride will take you, or when it will end. You simply count your blessings and let the wind blow through your hair during the ride.
My calendar is full for March and April, with some May and one big June booking in place. It's time to write, write, and write some more programs. It is an honor when someone contacts me and says, "We were wondering if you would consider ..."
If you know me or have read Clydesdale, you know how ridiculous I am about a GOOD BOX. In the grocery store before meeting up with Kay to hand off the books, I spotted two empties inside some refrigerator doors. They looked perfectly sized for my books. I asked if I could have them and they didn't care.
I got home and gathered the nine copies for Kay. They nestled beautifully into one of these boxes.
"I can't get over how perfect those fit in there," said Brian.
"I know!" I beamed. "I will be going back to snag more of these."
Yes, these little book boxes are on my grocery list from now on. Thank you, Anderson Payless!
We Cronks love us a GOOD box.