Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alison Henderson: Promotion Off the Beaten Track

30 Days of Promo Goodness continues today with author Alison Henderson! Alison grew up in Kansas City on the edge of the prairie. One of her favorite memories is of the fringed turquoise cowgirl outfit she received for her fifth Christmas. She went off to New York to study art history at Vassar College but never lost her admiration for the fortitude of the pioneers who settled the American West. She began writing when her daughter entered pre-school and was quickly captivated by the creative process. Although she has traveled the world from Japan to Tunisia, Alison has never strayed far from her Midwestern roots. She and her husband are empty-nesters living in Minnesota, and their daughter is a graduate student in Chicago....
Now take it away, Alison....

I currently have two published (mid)Western historical romances, Harvest of Dreams and A Man Like That. Both are set in Missouri—hardly the first place you think of when you think historical romance. Because they take place just after the end of the Civil War, they don’t fit into any convenient category, making promotion much more challenging. They’re also not available in brick-and-mortar bookstores or from traditional wholesale sources. How have I managed to sell any books? Besides guest blogging at a wide variety of sites, I came up with a couple of unusual venues to sell my books.

My first book, Harvest of Dreams, is set in Weston, MO, a small river town just north of Kansas City, where I grew up. I wanted to make the most of the connection, but since I haven’t lived in Kansas City for almost twenty-five years, I wasn’t sure how. I had neglected to consider the full power of maternal devotion.

My mother was so excited about my book that she not only bought a carton full to give out to anyone who might read it; she also didn’t hesitate to tell everyone she met about it. I had used a local historic home, the John Wornall House, as the inspiration for my heroine’s farm house, so my mother marched in and told the director all about my book. The director was thrilled, and the upshot was an invitation to speak and sign books at a Valentine’s Day evening soiree at the Wornall House.

My mother also got me a referral to a lovely woman who owns an interior design and gift shop in Weston. The shop owner was very excited about carrying a book set in her town and invited me to do a signing at a special monthly Saturday tourist event sponsored by the merchants’ association. I had a great time meeting locals who were interested in the history of their town and tourists who were visiting the local B&B’s and shops for Valentine’s Day.

My second book is set in the Ozark Mountains, and I don’t have any connections there. I wanted to find a way to capitalize on the setting again, so I designed a flyer with a picture of the cover, a blurb, and purchase information. I sent it, along with a polite, friendly letter to every merchant who might carry books in the Lake of the Ozarks region, as well as Branson. Both areas draw large numbers of tourists in the summer and fall, and my book has a gorgeous autumn cover, so I suggested a romance novel set in the local area might make a lovely souvenir.

I don’t know yet if this effort will bring any sales, but it’s another example of thinking outside the box promo-wise. These days, whether we’re published with a large New York house, or a small indie press, authors have to apply as much creativity to promotion as to writing. We might as well try to have a little fun with it.


Thank you, Alison! Readers, tune in tomorrow for a glimpse into Alison's latest release, A Man Like That! Until then, she invites readers to visit her on the web at www.alisonhenderson.com!

11 comments:

Jannine Gallant said...

Isn't it wonderful how our relatives are our biggest fans. My grandma bought a bunch of my books and mailed them to everyone she knows (whether they wanted one or not! LOL) Let us know how your creative marketing plan pans out!

Karyn Good said...

Thanks for the promotion suggestions and the reminder that, along with social media, you can find creative way to market your book locally, too!

Lilly Gayle said...

It's great having family support. And book signings in places other than book stores are often more fun and less intimidating. My first book signing was at a wine tasting. Now, that was fun. lol!

Alison H. said...

Hi, Jannine. A few of my mailers have come back as undeliverable, so maybe it would have been a good idea to call the stores to verify they're still in business. Live and learn. We'll see about the rest.

Alison H. said...

A few of my mailers have come back undeliverable. It probably would have been a good idea to call the stores to make sure they're still in business. Live and learn. We'll see how the rest pan out.

Jody Vitek said...

What great ideas for getting yourself out there. Of course, having family and friends to help is always a plus. Maybe some day I can put your tatics to work.

Alison H. said...

Hi, Jody! Thanks for stopping by. With all the work you're putting into your writing, it's only a matter of time.

Laura Breck said...

Um, can I hire your mom as my publicist??? Great blog, Alison!

Alison H. said...

Laura, I think it would make a great second career for her! At eighty-one she's fearless about spreading the word to one and all.

Clover Autrey said...

Go mom! We all need mothers like yours to promote for us.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Great ideas, Alison. And can I hire your mother?