A few months ago I realized I would have a window of opportunity in February to do a swing through North Carolina to promote my novel, The Shaman of Turtle Valley. I had made some connections with a few bookstores, so I sent out some queries to those stores and managed to line up three appearances, three days in a row. It seemed like an ideal schedule. Then I hoped the weather wouldn’t interfere.
My first stop was Scuppernong Books in Greensboro. I’ve done events at Scuppernong before and I know one of the owners, so they were most welcoming. It’s a great little store in the re-emergent downtown and includes a coffee/wine bar. It also hosts lots of events and groups, making it a wonderful community resource. I invited another writer friend to join me for the reading and between us we managed to draw a fair number of people. Cameron MacKenzie, author of the very imaginative novel The Beginning of His Excellent and Eventful Career, about Pancho Villa, went first and was very entertaining in talking about his book. Then I talked about my novel and read a few passages. It was fun for me because when I talked about Korea I knew there was someone in the audience–my old friend Kathleen, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea with me back in the day–who would understand.
The next day I was off to Chapel Hill. I’ve done readings in the past at another bookstore in the area of the Research Triangle, but this time I wanted to try something different. And, as it turned out, some good friends live very near Flyleaf Books, making it very convenient. Flyleaf is a great store. It doesn’t depend on a cafe–they just sell books. And what a great selection they have, too! This event was billed as a conversation and my friend Marjorie Hudson, another fine writer, had read my novel very closely in order to prepare questions and launching points for my reading of select passages. This was a lot of fun for me and it led me to read from parts of the book I don’t usually present to audiences. If you weren’t able to come out to the event, the store has signed copies in stock.
For my last stop I drove south to Southern Pines for my reading at The Country Bookshop. I was looking forward to this event because my friend Katrina lives there and also because I had enjoyed meeting the bookshop manager at a SIBA event last fall and knew she was enthusiastic about hosting me. On arrival in the town, I checked into a historic hotel, The Jefferson Inn, and walked around to check out the shops. The event was scheduled for 5:00 pm, relatively early for a reading, and the audience was small. But I had spent some time that afternoon preparing a different group of selections to read–getting most of the voices from the book into the time allotted–so I felt it went pretty well.
After each event, there was a Q&A period, something I always enjoy. At the last stop, though, a gentleman asked me if it was really cost-effective for an author to come to a small town like Southern Pines. In purely economic terms, I don’t suppose it is (although I did sign a fair amount of stock, so who knows). But the actual number of books sold at a reading is only a small part of what an author is doing. For me, I’m there to connect with readers. If I can make my book sound appealing, maybe a listener will buy the book or one of my other books and maybe they’ll tell their friends. In the short-run, no it’s not cost-effective, but the connections make it worthwhile.
In fact, as I was leaving the store, one of the women who had heard my reading said to me that if my publisher makes an audiobook of the novel that I should do the narration myself because I was a good reader. That was such a nice compliment. I’m not sure I would actually do that, but it was certainly nice to hear.
The next day I drove home, but I would love to schedule mini-tours like this one again.