Mystery and Western writer Judy Alter joins us today to talk about book signings and finding a niche. I'm glad she was able to join us as she touches on two subjects that speak to the nostalgia of the season. My father loved westerns and mysteries and I inherited a good many of his books when he passed away. To my delight, I found after I married my wonderful husband, that his German mother also loved westerns and I felt privileged to share my father's books with her, too. Sharing books and finding new authors is one of the best ways to make a connection with others, so I hope Judy's blog helps you to connect with her and find a new, favorite author to share with your friends and family.
Book signings and finding a niche
I’ve been following the Facebook postings of western writer Steven Law. He apparently arranged to sign books at Hy-Vee grocery stores across the nation. For the last three days, he’s been at Hy-Vees in the Omaha area—he always tells what part of the store he’s in, such as next to vitamins, the produce, whatever—once, by good fortune, next to the ATM machine. His book is a traditional western, Yuma Gold, and I doubt HyVee is mentioned in it. But he’s somehow made great use of a connection and has done successful signings in an unconventional venue for books.
My new novel, Skeleton in a Dead Space, is definitely a neighborhood novel, one in which the Fort Worth historic neighborhood of Fairmount is a major character. Kelly O’Connell buys and sells real estate and renovates older houses, particularly Craftsman style, in Fairmount, and she is passionate about the neighborhood. So are the residents there today.
My book signings have been in unconventional signing sites but places dear to Fairmount residents. I launched the book with two signings at The Old Neighborhood Grill, a popular café about a block beyond the actual boundary of the neighborhood but one many residents frequent. In two signings—early (7:00 a.m.) Saturday morning and 5:30 the following Monday evening, I sold almost 75 books. Sure, lots of people came because I’d sent out emails and Peter, the grill owner, had fliers. But several regular customers walked up and said they wanted to buy books for their wives.
Fairmount also houses a wonderful store called Old Home Supply—it’s got everything you could possible want to redo your older home or add character to a new structure—from doorknobs to French doors, plumbing fixtures, fire screens, you name it. I once bought a metal couch for my porch there. It features two running horses and a Texas star. So now, Old Home Supply has eight copies of my book, and I signed there the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For that signing and the one at the local Barnes & Noble, I made a sign that said “A mystery set in Fort Worth’s own Fairmount Historic District.”
Fairmount also has a book club, and I spoke to them, though it was a small group, and they talked as much about the neighborhood and its street repairs as they did my book. But it was a pleasant evening, and I bet the word spread. They eagerly asked if I’d come back to talk about the second book, and I assured them I would.
My point in all this is to suggest writers find the unique audience for each of their books and then look for alternative signing sites. My marketing in Fairmount has paid off wonderfully.
Check out my website— http://www.judyalter.com/ —for pictures of Kelly’s neighborhood and see why it’s a character in the book.
Thank you, Judy, and Happy Holidays