Monday, March 15, 2010

Books are only the beginning

Noon Hour Book Brunches are one of the programs that my library hosts. It is an opportunity for authors and readers to get together and talk about books. Generally, authors contact us for a spot on our schedule. The authors discuss a variety of topics related to their books and after the discussion, they sell and sign copies. It's a great way for an author to introduce himself to a community and build book sales.

Recently, a self published author got in touch with my library director and introduced himself and his book. Impressed, my director asked me to schedule a book brunch with the author. A week before his talk, we received a call from his publisher asking us to purchase a case of books. We are a small community library and like most of Michigan watching every penny to stay afloat. Budgets are tight and property taxes are down, we told the publisher that we could not afford to buy a case of books (48 at $22.00 each), but invited the author to bring books and sell them after the event.

Although the library could not purchase multiple copies of his or any book, we had advertised as much as possible for his appearance with us. The local cable station had agreed to film his presentation and broadcast it for a minium of 30 days. The local paper had also agreed to write an article on his visit and his books. The subscription area for the paper encompasses the entire county. My library is a member of a 27 library cooperative, information about his book had been passed to all of the cooperative libraries and copies of his book would be purchased by at least half of the inclusive libraries.

On the day of the book brunch, one of our regular attendees stopped by my desk and mentioned that the author had not shown up for a book discussion meeting at one of our cooperative libraries. This put the fear of God in me. I immediately got on the telephone and tried to reach the author. All I got was his voicemail. After leaving several messages, I prayed that he would show up and that the other date had been an isolated incident, a mix up of dates or anything else that could happen to a person on their way to a meeting.

As it got closer to the noon hour, my nervousness increased. Several additional patrons revealed the same information about our speaker, but for different libraries. Noon came and went and our author never appeared. I had the embarrassing task of informing the audience that our speaker would not be available that day.

Later that same day, my library director admitted to me that he'd never had a no call/no show for the book brunch. In the past, several authors had arrived late, gotten lost, whatever. This author was the first to do a no show or call.

I believed the author's behavior surpassed unprofessional. Regardless to the number of books he might sell, he made a commitment to our community and should have honored it. It was his responsibility to call and cancel if he couldn't make it.

Since becoming a published author, I've learned that you never know where an opportunity will lead you. I once did a telephone interview with a reporter from a small local paper, an article that I've never seen. Two years later that same reporter had become a television producer at a CBS affiliate. She contacted me and invited me to be a guest on her show for a discussion about my books. The program ran on their station for several weeks. Later, she allowed me to add a permanent link from their station's website to my personal website. One of the gentlemen on the show with me gave my name to a television producer in another state and I found myself on that show, as well as the one in my local area.

Another example, I did a talk at a very small library. I believe the population for that community is appropriately 8,000. I did not sale one single copy of my books. It was one of the best talks I ever gave. Seven people attended and I stayed for several hours answering their questions. This talk led to my being asked to share my writing experiences on another local television station. The opportunities are endless, but an author must get passed the notion that all you want to do is sell books. Of course, books are the end game. You have to look passed how many books did I sale to what this experience brought me.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

Remember, don't be a stranger.



Jewel Amethyst said...

That author has no idea of the opportunity he just gave up. I guess the words, "Carpe diem" means nothing to him.

I wished more libraries in my area organized such great promotions for local authors.

Anyway, it's his loss.

Karen said...

I agree. I believe he blew a wonderful opportunity and I think it's going to be difficult for him to gain the trust of the libraries in my area.

Like any community, librarians talk among themselves. They exchange news about possible programs.

Farrah Rochon said...

Karen, that author was, in my opinion, an idiot. The least he could have done was give the library notice that he wouldn't attend.

I love how your gestures have turned into such great promotional opportunities for you! Great post!