Monday, January 12, 2009

Gimme a ''Mama'' To Go

By Deborah Sharp

This is how I imagine it might happen at little Gladys' diner in Okeechobee, Fla.

"Hey Bertie, how 'bout a cup of coffee, a slice of pie . . . and what the heck? I'll take a Mama Does Time while you're at it.''

With the kind encouragement of the good folks at Gladys', I dropped off a box of books for sale there last week. The down-home diner makes a cameo in Mama, and they seem pleased at the recognition. It helps that everyone in the book adores the restaurant, and nobody gets offed by tainted biscuits and sausage gravy.

As a newbie author, I'm trying to swim outside the usual promotional channels: bookstores, conventions, library gatherings. It's a challenge. I'd like to claim a grand business plan involving synergy, product placement, and marketing platforms. But the truth is Gladys' wound up in the book because I like the food and their cool, 50s-era sign. It fits in Himmarshee, Fla., my made-up small town based loosely on Okeechobee.

If I were a marketing genius, I wouldn't have set my Mace Bauer Mystery series in a part of Florida with no bookstore and more cows than people. But that's a topic for another day.

I'll keep you posted on the Great Gladys' Experiment. But meanwhile, I'm curious about other unusual sales venues. Any authors out there market their books in out-of-the-ordinary ways? Readers, what's the strangest place you've ever bought a book?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I've had several plus size stores carry my books. None of the chains, but we certainly have tried to get them in there.

Great job!

G.M. Malliet said...

One of the things I've "meant to" get around to doing is contacting tea shops in my area re. carrying copies of the St. Just books. We used to have a great little store in my town that sold British products and served tea and scones, etc., in the afternoons. They closed some time ago, alas.

I've noticed Starbucks is pushing teatime in their stores. Hmm. What are the chances? ;-)

Terry Odell said...

OF course, the way my life goes, I set a scene in a restaurant, and by the time the book hits the shelf, that restaurant has closed. Even the one used bookstore (no indies around here) has left town.

Carrie Kilpatrick said...

Terry Odell, just so that you know....Gladys Clay opened Gladys' Restaurant in 1951 and it still operates under the same family, with her daughter, Alberta (Bertie)Griffis owning and manageing the restaurant. So, it appears that Mrs. Sharpe made a wise choice when she featured The "little" restaurant with the "great" food, and 57 years of family and hometown history. If the walls could talk, the restaurant would be able to write it's own book. Imagine a story from the viewpoint of a 57 year old restaurant who's walls hold generations of local families, truth, tales, and secrets.

Terry Odell said...

I mentioned another icon restaurant in a different book. Didn't set a scene there, just mentioned the characters had eaten there. It's still standing ... BUT their local branch closed down.

And the Thai place where I set that other scene is on its fifth restaurant at that site. All different. None can survive, apparently.

Deborah Sharp said...

Hey, guys ... thanks for the great comments. And, yes, Carrie ... I surely did choose a great spot to put in the book. Here's to ANOTHER 57 years!
When I have writer's block, I'm going to come sit in Gladys' and listen to the walls tell their stories . . .