Hinterstein Germany Village Buildings Mountains (from pixabay.com)
This past month the local writer’s group I’m a member of held its own book-fair at one of the local parks.
For the first hour, I went, mingled with my fellow writers and watched the band and food vendors set up for the weekly Fridays on Vine concert. Everyone seemed excited, hopeful that the concert and the sign welcoming the public to come meet local authors would bring a stream of locals through the pavilion.
No one said it aloud, but we all watched people gathering on the grass and at the picnic tables as if we might know some of them. As if they might see us, come running in (with their friends, of course) and buy books.
Only a handful of visitors trickled through while I was there, and I don’t think more than a few books got sold, but I still consider the night a success.
As a united entity, we authors vivaciously reached out to the public.
To my knowledge, this is the first time our little group has ever done this.
It takes guts to welcome new people to come see what we’re up to. It takes courage to put on a professional image, especially when, for most of us, our fledgling works have been self-published and all the marketing efforts are up to us.
For some of us, it takes everything we have to overcome Imposter Syndrome enough that our neighbors, relatives and other people we meet in settings like this will take us seriously. We hope they will at least notice that we take ourselves seriously. (That in itself is a great leap forward.)
I overheard one author say to another, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think we’re all just buying books from each other.”
That may be true. I came home with stacks of bookmarks and two books from my fellow authors, but here’s the deal:
To succeed, self-published authors and traditionally-published authors with little or no marketing budget must be united.
We need to sell the works of other authors as well as our own writings. We need to pass out those bookmarks to every potential reader we meet.
In a world where Talkers and Sneezers make ideas like great books go viral, we need to form tweet teams and street teams that will actually pound the pavement occasionally.
We need a village, and we need to sell to the villages we live in.
That means creating our own wave of enthusiasm, relying on each other to help spread the word, and forming our own movement that can eventually pick up momentum in our own towns and cities and spread to the larger world.
We create online villages by blogging, commenting on each other’s blogs, participating in blog hopping and blog tours, attending virtual book launches and creating author pages on Amazon and Facebook. These are helpful (and so fun they’re sometimes addicting). Wherever we go, we try to seek out our target audiences, hoping they’ll become part of our online villages.
I wonder, though, if they’ll ever really replace people we can get to know.
It takes a lot more courage to reach out to people you can see and touch than it does to reach out to people you might never meet in person. This is one reason why I admire writers who sell their books at trade fairs and arrange for book signings in libraries and bookstores.
Perhaps this is also why I value my writer’s group so much. This last month, at least, these other authors were my village. Even though I didn’t bring any bookmarks to pass out or books to sell, I felt their combined energy swelling up and spilling over into the concert at the park. Since then, two books from one local author have made the bestsellers list on Amazon.
I can’t help but see a connection here.
Her village is thriving.