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 Amazon.com, 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.)