Thursday, November 19, 2009

Growing Good Things: Pam Walker's Advice to Authors

"Remember Andy Warhol and his notion that everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."
First-time author Pamela Walker has certainly taken this notion to heart.

Pam was pounding the pavement many months prior to the arrival of her book, Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas: Profiles of Organic Farmers and Ranchers (TAMU Press, 2009). Her individual efforts combined with those of her publisher's marketing team have garnered a long list of reviews (Austin American Statesman, My Table Magazine), media coverage (Edible Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston Chronicle, The Dirt Doctor), events, and speaking engagements many authors would envy.

Here she offers her advice to authors interested in working harmoniously with their publishers on marketing efforts:
"Think of your Author Information Form as a Map of main routes in getting your book into the hands of people you've envisioned all along as your readers."
Take the AIF (author information form) seriously.

Even if in a tired, cynical moment, you think that this form, like so many that these bureaucratic times require us to complete, will be filed away and never read or used, resist that thought.

Think of it instead as a real tool both for yourself and for the press marketing team, a map of main routes in getting your book into the hands of the people you’ve envisioned all along as your readers.

Meet the Marketing Team

A couple or so months before the book comes out, go to the press offices and meet with the marketing team.

To prepare, review your AIF and if your ideas have changed since completing the form or if some of the information is no longer current, then note these things and advise the marketing team.

The value of meeting with the marketing team cannot be overstated. As authors, we know things about our intended audience and venues that the marketing team doesn’t necessarily know, and as professional marketers, the press team knows things that authors don’t.

By meeting personally, we not only begin to pool our knowledge, but we also come alive to each other as real people, not just names and disembodied messages in an e-mail inbox. And so, in this way, we as authors make ourselves part of the press marketing team.

And why shouldn’t we? We have the most to gain by joining the team. After all, the press has many books to promote, while we have only ours. If we aren’t willing to put thought and action into promoting our book, why, with so many titles to promote and so little time, should the press make our book a priority?

Seize the Moment

Remember Andy Warhol and his notion that everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. Make the most of your fifteen minutes to bring your book to the attention of as many people as possible.

During the months leading up to publication, let any associates who share, or may be brought to share, your purposes for writing the book in the first place, know what the book is about and when it’s coming out.

Enlist them in using the occasion of the book’s publication to serve your common interests. With the help of such people and that of the press marketing team, one thing will lead to another, one promotional event will generate several more, and your book will reach not just those you hoped it would but also those you didn’t know to hope for.

For example, I’m giving talks and signing books in all kinds of places -- at conferences and bookstores and at farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and feed stores. And I’m even selling books myself, from cartons I carry around in my car. In addition, my book is being reviewed in newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Dos and Don'ts

Don’t think you can promote your book effectively by yourself, and don’t think the press marketing team can promote your book effectively without you.

Do enter into conversation and partnership with the press marketing team, and enjoy the places you and your book will go.