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01 May 2006

Live and Learn

Lesson #1: Art galleries do not make good venues for book signings.

I got a great opportunity to have a week long booksigning event with another local adult fiction author at an art gallery April 24-29. The price was right and I thought, "Why not? I've never done it before. It was a first for the gallery owner as well. Let's try something new." Something new turned into a gallery inside a non-descript, brown building with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it entrance, tucked between a pawn shop and a tattoo parlor. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it entrance leads to a colorful back alley-type parking lot with covered parking for the tenants--and make-your-own parking for the rest of the public. Technically, our visitors would've consisted of people who'd just pawned an item (or bought a pawned item), got inked, or dined at 1 of 3 deli-cafe type places in our immediate vicinity.

Lesson #2: Length of Time.

One week, at one location, during the week, is too long. Two days--Friday and Saturday--would've sufficed. And the time frame--6pm to 10pm--wasn't exactly conducive to traffic.

Lesson #3: More than 3 weeks needed to plan.

I stressed myself out and made myself sick planning this thing. For the record, Joyce is A LOT older than me. She's in her 60's, doesn't have the Internet, and her promotional efforts in the past have consisted of telling close friends and family. Compared to the marketing/promo efforts I'm trying to do for myself--in general--she had no concept of sending/putting up flyers, sending out a press release to newspapers, etc. In March, she had her own show at this same place (The Unique Gallery), for the same amount of time. At the time, she had about 40 of her paintings and her two books on display. No one showed up. No one. Other than the 50 flyers she gave to the gallery owner to distribute, and the family, friends, neighbors she verbally told, she did no other form of public promotion.

In essence, my best friend Amy and I planned everything. We had one and a half brainstorming sessions with Joyce and realized immediately that we were on our own with the whole thing. (Disclaimer: Joyce did contribute monetarily once I showed her the receipts). I had just come off the AZ Book Festival and had to wrack--rack?-- my brain for ideas to bring people in. We had to make a list of people to contact, places to submit event info to, what kind of snacks we should have, getting permission from the building landlord regarding vendors (for our Pampered Harmony Faire on Saturday). The result was a different theme every night, based on our book titles, with corresponding contests and prizes.

Lesson #4: Live and learn.

During the course of the week--Mon to Fri--a couple of Amy's friends came by and hung out for a minute. My fiancee came down to bring me throat lozenges. A woman who had signed up for my contest at the book festival--and to whom I'd sent a flyer--came down. And we had an interesting man pass thru by the name of John Stores (although that wasn't his real name). What started out as a potentially freaky-deaky situation, turned out to be quite...enlightening.

Our Grand Finale on Saturday was to be a Pampered Harmony Faire. You could come down and buy books, jewelry, candles, etc and get your toes read, a manicure or a facial, etc. We had about 5 vendors in the outset, but only two confirmed. Not only that, but Joyce had a family crisis that popped up during the week and it hadn't been resolved by Friday. On Friday, we decided to scrap Saturday altogether.

Back Story: I had been sending out daily reminders of the event to my subscribers regarding the theme, contest, and prize for that night. I had stopped doing so by Thursday.

Moving on...You can see where this is going, can't you? Cancelled day, sent out tons of flyers, no notice, etc. So, because no one knew about the scrapped day:

~ my parents stopped by (Oops, forgot to call them)
~ Bug from the ABC (AZ Bloggers Coalition) stopped by. Sorry, Bug. It would've been great to meet you.
~ Terry Lawler, teen librarian from the the Juniper Branch, stopped by (*currently stabbing myself in the heart over this one*)

All in all... it's good to try something new at least once. Especially if you're a writer trying to get your books out there.

You can see pictures of the venue HERE. Although, you won't see any of me or Joyce, because, well, I forgot to take some. My bad.
posted by GeminiWisdom @ 7:24 PM |


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