Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Right Kind of Celebrity

I was standing in line at 9 am yesterday morning outside Barnes and Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles. A work colleague had asked me to pop in on my way to the office to pick up a copy of Ree Drummond’s book The Pioneer Woman. Ree was making a personal appearance that night and B & N expected a turnout so huge they were handing out wristbands. Even at that early hour, the line snaked a full block.

Once I’d recovered from Ree Drummond’s obvious successes (I hadn’t heard of her until the night before—but she’s a real inspiration), my thoughts turned to my own promotional efforts. Only recently my fellow author and friend NYT bestseller Kate Carlisle and I had begged the CRM to give us a book signing at The Grove but were told that their signing policies for the Disney-esque location were for “celebrities only.” We slunk away feeling complete losers and were told that whatever they needed, we didn’t have.

Non-fiction is far easier to promote especially if it has an unusual or fresh take on a subject but what about the rest of us?

Here are a few thoughts—mining your novel for historical dates or traditional celebrations and exploiting them mercilessly; praying that the underlying theme, topic or plot of your book miraculously coincides with an incident (preferably huge) on national television. If your book is set locally, enlisting local media to write wonderful things about you; combing your memory for colorful anecdotes that catapult you to stardom or—in my case—capitalizing on unusual British hobbies.

England is known for it’s eccentricity but even I had no idea just how quirky some of our British hobbies truly are. Hedge jumping, hedge cutting, naked farming competitions, snail racing and now, in Thieves!, I tackle the volatile world of Morris dancing. I even snagged an interview with the 29th Squire of the National Morris Ring but sadly B & N at The Grove were not impressed. Clearly, he too, was not the right kind of celebrity.


Rick Blechta said...

I would just remember this, and if either of you are ever in the position where they WANT you to sign there, tell them no.

I recollect hearing that Tom Clancy had the same problem when he was starting out. Apparently, lots of bookstores turned him down, too. He remembered and when they needed him, he told them no and continued to sign at places that had welcomed him when he was a nobody — no matter how small the store was.

That's the way to do it.

Hannah Dennison said...

I like that idea and I intend to follow it! Interesting about Tom Clancy ... There is a book store in Northern California that were incredibly rude to me. I fantasize about visiting there one day and doing a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman....

Neal Kristopher said...

Now naked snail racing - there's a hobby!


Rick Blechta said...

How do you make a snail naked -- and then wouldn't it just be called a slug?