Monday, December 22, 2008

Lessons Learned: Don't Promote the Weekend Before Christmas

I did two promotional events this weekend and both were duds from a turnout perspective -- which only goes to show that when folks get their holiday game faces on, look out. They don't want to talk, surf, or otherwise engage in leisurely activity that any sane person would call human (or humane for that matter).

First, I did a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Plymouth Meeting this weekend. I must have been an afterthought in the minds of the store managers, because I was stuck at a tiny table (it was more like a tray with legs) behind another author whose sign was so huge it made it impossible for people to see me. He wrote a book about the Philadelphia Eagles with lots of pretty pictures aimed at Joe Six-Pack, while I wrote experimental fiction aimed at a niche audience. I guess I can see why he got the sweet spot by the front door and I was, well, a few steps behind next to the Boy Scouts gift wrapping kiosk.

A grand total of 3 people stopped by, but each was a rich experience in its own right.

One father talked to me for about 20 minutes about his alcoholic son, who gave up drugs but has for years been unable to kick the drink. He asked me to write an inspirational note in the book to his son, and then got it gift-wrapped and left with a smile on his face and a little spring in his step (I think). To think that my book is going to be sitting under someone's tree this year and be opened on Christmas by someone who really needs to hear its message -- and includes a note of confidence from the author to boot -- is extremely gratifying. This is the type of person for whom I wrote this book, and I guess if it somehow gets this person to put down the bottle it will have all been worth it.

Secondly, I did an online interview with Book Talk with J&J, a free promotional blog site that helps authors get the word out about their books. I got another 3 hits on this blog, 2 of which came from the blog admin and one of the site's reviewers.

Sigh. Bitten by the holiday rush bug, and stranded in cyberspace? Not exactly. Again, the audience for which my book was intended showed up, even if it was only one person. This commentor (who won the contest for a free copy) told me about a friend with a drinking problem who they thought could be helped by my book, and asked me if I thought it was appropriate for someone who was an alcoholic, rather than a child of an alcoholic. Here is my reply:

Hi C.K., Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I definitely think my book would have meaning and insight for someone currently researching their own alcoholism. The protagonist in my book, Leysa Henko, is both a victim of alcoholism at a young age, and an adult alcoholic later in life. So, in that way, my book hits both ends of the spectrum of the disease.

Thanks again for coming by and feel free to post any other questions you have.

Best, Kenneth Kirsch

In the end, it was a quiet weekend promotionally but well worth the investment of time and energy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Yours in cyberspace,

Ken Kirsch

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