September 07, 2010

Don't overlook the small towns

Let me put my writing hat on today. That's the really ugly one that my wife hates with the sweat stains and discoloration. That would be it in this picture with Saundra and I at our beautiful granddaughter Mandy's graduation.

But I digress. I think writers out promoting books make a big mistake when they only want to go to major metro areas. They don't want to waste their time going to small towns.

My best events have been small towns ( not counting conventions or workshops where I am presenting, that’s the best ). I do a signing in a big town and it’s just another signing. If it is worked right a small town is a major event. They don’t get celebrities, and we get to be that when we go in. I did a signing in Friona, TX where I spoke to a library fundraiser, sang and gave my testimony at church, and met with a women’s group. The radio did a remote, the newspaper made my visit front page, events were up on marquees all over town. Stephen King type treatment and really good for the old ego. I sold 140 books ( of several of my titles) in a town of only 3000 people. When we reach a time that we could use a little 'ego boost,' a small town event can really provide it.

Groom TX I did a half day writing workshop for grades 5-12 at the school system. Again spoke to a women’s group at the church, local civic club, got great advance PR and everybody in town knew I was there. 92 books in a town of 1300 people.

I can go on and on, and I look for such towns to visit. They are so much fun, and I always do really well. A lot of people there have never met a real author and want a signed book. They don’t much care what genre.

The follow-ups from these small towns are good too. I’m always getting emails asking if I have a new book out. But home town? Not so much. 20,000 people and I’m no celebrity there. Nobody including family knows I have something of a national reputation, I’m just the kid that used to live down the street. It's the 'prophet in his own home town' sort of thing.

There are two keys to making this happen. First, a lot of advance notice so the publicity happens, and second, a local host, somebody on the ground that can start talking it up and building a buzz. If those happen the fun begins . . .


Caroline said...

Terry, this is a great piece of advice & one I plan on remembering. Wow, that number of books is impressing. Thanks!

Tina Dee Books said...

I love this, the series I'm writing is set in a small town. In the fall, this town is flooded with over 10,000 people for the Fall Harvest days, and the rest of the time, it's a quiet little mountain town, with a few B&Bs dotting its hills and old gold mines you can still visit. I love small towns. Great to hear they are so welcoming to authors and signings.

Thanks, Terry, for a great post!

Stephen Bly said...

Great article, Terry! We live in a small town, write about small towns, but haven't thought much about the benefit of doing book signing tours aimed at small towns. Excellent idea!

On the trail,

Vickie McDonough said...

Thanks for the great advice, Terry. How do you go about making your initial contact in small towns?