Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Book Signings

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By Dennis McCloskey

What if your publicist organized a book signing and no one came?

It happened to Pierre Berton once, before he became famous. And it happened to me a long time ago before relative fame came to me in the form of January Writer-in-Residence for openbooktoronto.com. :-) My former publisher sent me on a book tour of the Maritimes to promote two of my Young Adult fiction novels. When I arrived in Halifax, I spotted an ad in the Halifax Chronicle Herald that indicated I would be appearing at the Confederation Centre Children’s Library to do a reading on November 25th at 4:00 p.m. “Public welcome.” That was nice, but the reading was scheduled for November 24th! I was there on the right day, time and place, but no one else was. I had to go to P.E.I. the next day so I never did find out if anyone showed up the following day for the previous day’s event.

The Halifax foul-up proves the importance of good planning. A book signing has been scheduled for me at the Borders bookstore in York, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, February 1, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m. “Public Welcome.” I’m lucky. A lot of very competent people are working in advance and in tandem to make sure the event takes place without a hitch and that it receives plenty of advance promotion...for the right day!

You think planning a book signing is simple? Think again. Here’s a brief run-down of the tremendous amount of work involved in promoting and preparing for a book signing:

My Canadian publicist, Alison Roesler, of General Store Publishing House, has been in contact with the Borders Store Manager and his Community Events person. Alison has made sure the store has ordered a quantity of my book, “My Favorite American.” The Manager has confirmed with Alison that the event has been posted on the Borders store website; there is signage at the front entrance; there’s a “faceout” with signage on the store’s “EVENTS” fixture; a faceout display in the Local Interest section; and the event is listed in the store’s Event’s handout. The handout is available to be picked up by regular customers, and on the weekend of the event, the handout is placed in customers’ bags along with their purchases. Notices have been sent to local newspapers and inserted as part of the store’s regular weekly communication in one of the largest daily papers, the York Daily Record. Borders’ corporate salesperson has also communicated the event with key corporate customers in the area. A table is ready to be placed at the front of the store to maximize walk-in traffic on the day of the signing.

Think that’s all there is to it? Think again. The subject of my biography, Valen Cover, has proven to be a remarkable “publicity machine” for the book since it was published last July. She has gone way beyond the call of duty to get the word out for the upcoming book signing on February 2nd. (Just kidding! I wanted to see if you’re paying attention. It’s on Feb. 1st!). The in-store event is taking place in Valen’s hometown so, naturally, she will be on hand to sign copies of the book, chat with customers and answer questions. To date, this human marketing machine has initiated several dozen activities to throw the spotlight on the two-hour book signing event: Valen has contacted members of the local print and electronic media with great success and has received promises of coverage. She arranged for the largest TV station in the area (ABC affiliate WGAL-TV) to conduct an interview with the two of us before the signing, and the camera crew will stay to film the first 15 minutes of the event. Valen pitched the story to Carrie Fairchild, the station’s Weekend Anchor, and it’s none other than Carrie who will be doing the on-location interview an hour before the scheduled book signing.

For several weeks, Valen has also beat the drum for this event by posting colourful notices throughout her city: in libraries; the YMCA; three Starbucks; nine grocery stores; a shopping mall; her former dialysis centre; two hair salons; a friend’s large industrial hard chrome plating business; former schools that she attended; friends’ workplaces; and on the Intranet of the
300-employee office building where she works. Her boyfriend and her father have sent mass emails to their colleagues and friends. In recent months Valen has been a guest speaker at community gatherings, such as a church group and an American Legion, so she contacted those members and invited them to the signing. She has sent emails and text messages to members and volunteers of PKD Chapters (Valen has Polycystic Kidney Disease); and she has advised former classmates and organizers of the Dale Carnegie course, and she posted a notice at a Christian Bookstore. God bless her; she has done SO much (and more) but I think you’re starting to get the big (publicity) picture.

If you’re in the York PA area on February 1st—that’s FEBRUARY ONE—please drop by our book signing and say hello to me and my wife, Kris, and my book’s biggest booster—Valen Cover!

The day after the Borders book-signing, we’ll begin planning our next event with the people at Indigo-Chapters. It’s on Sunday, April 5th, 2009, 2:00 p.m. at Indigo, 55 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Valen will fly in from Pennsylvania to meet and greet her fans and sign books. I hope you can make it. When you meet Valen Cover I guarantee you will know why she is my favorite American! (Sorry Barack. You’re #2. You’ll just have to try harder.) :-)

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Dennis McCloskey

Dennis McCloskey is a journalist and editor and the author of numerous books. Several hundred of his human interest and business articles have appeared in over sixty-five newspapers, magazines and corporate newsletters in Canada, the US and Europe. His latest book, My Favorite American, is published by General Store Publishing House.

Go to Dennis McCloskey ’s Author Page