Friday, October 07, 2011

Getting Community Support For Your Book Launch

One of the things I've been getting asked a lot lately is how do I get so much community support. For my book launch party several hundred people turned out, both for my debut, last year, Crossing Oceans and just recently for my sophomore, Dry as Rain.

 I made the newspapers something like half-a-dozen times, was featured on a billboard, a magazine, a radio program and had posters of my mug all over town. We even had real paparazzi there. I know this because they actually wore t-shirts that said "paparazzi" on them. We had two promo videos made, at no cost to me--one was a video spoof of the book, the other street interviews asking folks if they could forgive their spouse if they cheated on them.

How can another author replicate this kind of community backing? Well the short answer is live in a town like Roanoke. I'm very blessed to live somewhere that seems to be stuck in the fifties. Really. We have big tree-lined sidewalks, an old time soda shop, neighbors know each other's names ... we even have a milkman.

So, living in a place with a great atmosphere might not be something you can help. There are other things you can. Have your library system hire a quirky Brit that is passionate about the arts and also a promoter good enough to be managing his own PR company. I'm talking about our hometown celebrity, River Laker. This guy never sleeps. He lives to promote artists. Nice, eh?

I met River through a stalking of sorts. I wrote him. He ignored me. I wrote him again, and again and finally we connected over coffee. Being funny and kind and genuinely concerned with him helped him want to help me. (Read Winning Friends and Influencing People).

Then we brainstormed ideas and I wasn't shy about things I thought would work. He wanted to do a spoof video, so I wrote a script and enlisted ourselves and friends to help We hired a local book seller to sell the books to help them out. Spreading goodwill with a bookstore is always a smart idea.

Next, I raved about the library and  River, to anyone who would listen. I even got him covered in Library Journal last year. That was a pretty big deal for someone who works for a small town library.

Ron Bergeron filmed, and produced the video you see above just to be nice. (Last year he was an actor in the play for Crossing Ocean's debut). I think he did a fantastic job in both cases. All I paid him was a book and some friendship.

Honestly, I think it's all a lot of luck, a lot of really nice people who happen to love to surround a really connected, hard-working and creative man who happens to like me and my work...  On your end helping others whenever you can and telling people they've done a good job and you appreciate them is a good idea. And if you happen to have a lot of friends who love you and show up to fill the seats, well, that's about the best you can do.


Nancy Jill Thames said...

When I saw you signing books at the end of your video I cried. I haven't been an author long, but this post was such an encouragement for me. Thank you, Gina. May God richly bless your writing as you seek to honor Him.

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks Nancy :)

river said...

Wow! what a great post, Gina. And yeh, the video is a tearjerker for sure! it's a pleasure to know you and to help get your books read by more and more folks. Thanks for living in Roanoke, VA!

Marti Pieper said...

I've told more than one writer friend about your library's wonderful support of your work. And the video is nothing but classic. There's something whole and healthy about a novelist not taking her launch or her work too seriously. Great job!

Ron Bergeron said...

Thanks for your kind words in this article, Gina! You're right about Roanoke and towns that have strong community sense like ours. The library and especially the resolve of people like Mr Laker to promote artists is a breath of fresh air in a rat-race world. Many don't see the behind-the-scenes collaborative efforts, but that's okay because it's the end-result that is visible and which we work towards. Every little bit helps!!
Not the least, we're your friends and we believe in you! And it makes us happy to see you do well!