On The Road Again

My latest novel, Lakota Dreams, is available on Amazon, including for the first time, an electronic version for Kindles.  My hardback copies will be here in a few weeks, which means I’ve got to hit the road again for book signings and other events.  I have mixed feelings about this part of an author’s responsibilities.

I don’t like being on stage, and yet at events and book signings, I usually get many nice comments from friends and strangers.  Also, as a self-published writer, it is the sales of the hardback books that recover my out of pocket costs for printing the books, so it’s necessary.

Without a “real” publisher, and no agent or PR company, I have to arrange the events myself and then promote them.  Sometimes it takes a sales pitch, sometimes a little begging, but I’ve learned which organizatons and stores are friendly to self-published authors so a lot of the task merely involves picking a date and time.

Hastings has been one of those stores that will do anything, and I’ve had multiple book signings on Saturdays at their locations in Conroe, Austin, New Braunfels, Kerrville, Huntsville, Lake Jackson, Victoria.  If I sell ten books, and leave five behind I consider an event a success.  But I’ve had some where I’ve only sold one book.   I’ve never been completely shut out….knock on wood.

The best book signing events have been held at independent stores, especially if I’ve mailed an announcement to a few hundred people.  River Oaks Book Store and Murder by the Book have been good for me in Houston.  Book People in Austin and the Twig in San Antonio have also been productive. In San Antonio my nephew and wife who live there did a mailing for me and it went surprisingly well.

I was able to talk Borders in Houston into carrying my books and having a few book signings.  I sold about a hundred books through Borders, but now they claim a new policy is not to accept self-published authors.  That’s been the rule at  Barnes and Noble, although I will try to get into those stores for Lakota Dreams. 

Some of the most productive events have been luncheons for book clubs and Christmas Shopping boutiques.  Speeches are required at the  luncheons, and with practice I’ve become adequate as a speaker.  It helps that many people admire a person who writes a book.

For Lakota Dreams, I’m planning to market copies to gift shops in the Black Hills.  There are so many stores there selling Native American artifacts with high tourist traffic during the summer.  The book cover by itself should motivate interest.  I might even travel there again.  A benefit of being self-published is that the costs for such trips would be tax deductable expenses.

Part of going on the road is preparing a talk.  I’ve never done a reading, which many authors do, because in a detective novel, I thought the best passages I could read would give away too much of the plot.  I usually gave talks about my writing process, my formula, and my self-imposed guidelines.  But I may do readings this time.    Maybe I’ll read the part where my protagonist, Nate Henderson, goes on a vision quest in the Black Hills.  He’s trying to do what his friends the Lakota Sioux do, and the “scene” tells a lot about him and doesn’t give away any relevant parts of the overall plot. 

What I also might read is something I found in my research.  It was a letter written by Elizabeth Custer (George Armstrong Custer’s wife) which recounts what she and other military wives were doing at the moment her husband and his men from the Seventh Cavalry were fighting the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  It’s a short letter, and very moving.  I do wish I had a voice like James Earl Jones.

Anyway, I’ve got to order some posters, make a ton of telephone calls, and get my mailing lists ready.  In the meantime, I’ll try to continue my marketing research and real estate careers, while working on my fifth novel, the first draft being about sixty percent complete.


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