Wednesday, October 26, 2011


by Darrell James

There’s been a lot of talk, of late, about the best way to market a book in today’s brave new world of book publishing. Social networking and use of the internet to get the word out certainly offers an economy of scale that’s hard to argue with. But (and you can call me old-fashioned here if you want) there is something marginally unfulfilling about selling a book online, particularly in eBook form where no physical matter has changed hands, and no engagement with the reader has taken place. The greatest thrill for me as a writer is being in the public, face to face with potential readers, getting that nod of agreement… “Yes, you can sign it for me.”

(Lots of Books To Sign, B&N Dayton)
Maybe it’s the salesman in me. But there’s nothing like it as far as I’m concerned.

When we launched my debut novel, Nazareth Child, in September we (wife/publicist and I) set out to meet as many potential readers as possible in the first ninety days of the books life. Our reasoning was based on the premise that “word of mouth” is still the number one influence in a book (or author’s) success. And that word of mouth is spread by either those that like the book or like you. (Preferably both.)

(A Hug Always Helps)

We had a saying in my sales days: “Buyers, by and large, buy from the sales person in front of them.” I still think it holds true to some extent to this day.

(Discussing Nazareth Child at Foul Play Books, Columbus, OH)

During the past eight weeks, I have maintained an almost daily schedule of speaking in libraries and before fraternal and social organizations. Meeting with book clubs and writers groups. Doing-meet-and-greet-signings in both independent and chain book stores. I’ve participated in one national conference and a regional book festival. And, in two locations, have thrown private book launch parties with close to a hundred people in attendance at each. Along the way there were casual venues, extending invitations to friends and readers to join me after one event or another for drinks and socializing. (Between events I would do drive-bys of the area Barnes & Nobles, meeting each of the staff members personally, and signing stock (which I was pleasantly surprised to find available at virtually every store). It was all part of connecting with people in a personal and meaningful way. The result of all this has been that I have had the chance to personally engage and sign books for literally hundreds of readers.

(Even This Little Cutie Joined In The Celebration)

Was technology involved?

Actually, I couldn’t have done without Facebook and email as a means to put the word out. But the real payoff (and the real surprise) has been the incredible involvement of others—friends, family (for sure) but also those I have met and signed books for along the way, those I have spent personal time with, those who have read the book and enjoyed it. It’s been a near symphony of positive support going on across the web for weeks now. And, it’s my belief that the level of buzz in the social media would have been far less fervent had it not been for the personal contact.

(Check Out The Del Shannon Rocks T-Shirts)

At any rate, however you might want to measure results, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve reconnected and spent time with wonderful old friends, and made hundreds of new ones that I hope to become old friends in time.

The photos are just a few glimpses of the many great moments along the way. I’m looking forward to many more.

(Friends Old and New Turned Out In Cincinnati)

Nazareth Child: A Del Shannon Novel is currently available from bookstores and from online retailers in both trade paperback and for all popular eReaders.


Jess Lourey said...

Marketing is the aspect they leave out when they teach creative writing, isn't it? You are the whole package, though, and I wish you much success!

Jennifer Harlow said...

I have my first official signing this weekend. I hope mine is as successful as yours have been. Keep up the good work!

Beth Groundwater said...

Wow, Darrell, DAILY appearances for eight weeks! You are one busy guy and my hat goes off to you. I'd be exhausted!

Darrell James said...

Thanks, Jess.
Good luck, Jennifer!
Beth, I am exhausted, but in a good way. I'm resting comfortably in Tucson for a few days, then I'm off to L.A. for more fun and thrills.

Keith Raffel said...

Darrell, with all that traveling you never made it to the Bay Area? Your fans here are waiting.

Darrell James said...

Keith- "So many readers, so little time." Will be at Left Coast in Scramento on March. Hope to see you there.

Kathleen Ernst said...

While I agree that nothing beats personal interaction, I'm in awe of how much you were able to put together! Interesting work helps make the in-person visits possible. Thanks for sharing.

Darrell James said...

Kathleen- it helps that I'm sleeping withmy publicist :)

Alan Orloff said...

Go Keith! All you have to do is unleash your charming personality, and the book sales will flow!

Sebastian Stuart said...

Wow, you have a lot of energy. I think this is absolutely the best way to market, even these days. From the ground up, reader by reader.