How Do You Know If It’s Worth It?

Yesterday I drove 165 miles one way to speak to a book group. Approximately 100 women were in attendance, and the event included a nice lunch and the opportunity to sell books. (This isn’t a book group where the speaker’s book is read and discussed. In fact, while I was there, only two books were mentioned, but I do believe the members read a lot of books.)

After lunch and a short meeting (in which a $1,000 scholarship was awarded to a local high school senior), I was introduced to the group. I spoke for about 20 minutes about how I started writing, the changes I’ve seen in the 30 years that I have been writing, and what I’m working on now. That was followed by a short Q&A session, and then I was selling and signing books.

I did sell several copies of THE CROWS and AS THE CROW FLIES, but as I drove home, I wondered if the trip was worth it. On the positive side, a hundred or more people have now heard (and seen) my name, so maybe next time they’re in a library or book store, or perusing, they’ll (out of curiosity) see what might be there under that name. And those women who purchased THE CROWS (if they enjoyed it) might consider purchasing the second book in the series (and the third book if I ever get it finished). Or maybe they’ll download one of my e-books.

On the negative side, gas is now over $3.90/gallon, and I probably averaged 27 mpg. The round trip took me 6 hours of driving. That plus the time I spent at the meeting meant I wasn’t writing. Since I had to provide the books that were sold, I had a cost involved with that.

So how does a writer know if saying yes to any of these events is worthwhile?

I don’t have an answer, but I do think personal contact is much better than an ad in a magazine or newspaper, better than a postcard sent in the mail, and even better than being on Linked-in, Twitter, Facebook or whatever else is out there. I wish I could simply sit in front of my computer and write and have someone else take care of the publicity, but getting my wish might be the worst thing that could happen. I write about everyday people and the events that put conflict in their lives. It’s talking to people that gives me new ideas. (Last week I talked to a man who used to guard the First Ladies. Boy would I like to pick his brain.)

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9 Responses to How Do You Know If It’s Worth It?

  1. Diane Burton says:

    I’m not sure we ever know the results of our efforts–whether it’s driving 330 miles & spending the majority of the day or doing blog hops and writing guest posts and offering e-bookstore gift cards. I think we have to have hope that our efforts will pay off in the long run. Meanwhile, you met 100 people who may remember your name and tell someone who will tell someone else and so on.

  2. mm says:

    Maris, I have wondered the same thing about presenting at conferences. I guess there is no definitive answer. Bummer.

  3. Grandma E says:

    I want to read about those people guarding the first lady. Some real stuff, mixed in with your good imagination… let me know when it comes out!!!

  4. You’ve posed a great question, Maris. The topic has been on my mind, as well. With all the things a writer must do in addition to writing, I wonder if there truly is an answer. How do we know if the way we promote our books will pay off? If anyone has the answer, I hope they will share it.

  5. This is a great post Maris – I’d never really thought about whether a personal appearance would be worth the trip – You had some good points!

  6. I haven’t been asked to speak to a group, but I have spent a lot of time writing posts and checking out inexpensive ways to promote. You bring up some very valid points – not only did you have to spend money on gas and bring your books, you spent a lot of time you could have used for writing, researching, or whatever. But as you and others have pointed out, you’ve got face and name recognition you didn’t have before. All we can do is hope for the best. And write more books for them to buy.

  7. Melissa Keir says:

    I think all of us have to weigh those options. There isn’t one right answer. I do agree that the personal touch makes a huge difference and those connections can make it all worthwhile!

    Great post!

  8. Lucy Kubash says:

    Who knows if any of our promotional efforts pay off, but I think going to speak to readers can help to reinforce the belief in ourselves as writers, especially during the times when we doubt that we can keep doing it. So maybe that’s one way to look at it. But with the price of gas nowadays, I guess we have to be choosey!