I’ll be going back to OK toward the end of October to attend the Red Dirt Book Festival, which will be held in Shawnee, OK, on Oct. 28-29. My plan is to hold book signings for The Old Buzzard while I’m in state, so I spent much of my trip back to Oklahoma this month for the OWFI conference trying to set ’em up for October. Sad to say, at this early point in the career, I’m not exactly a Smooth Operator.
Now, I’m a fairly articulate person, and I’m not particularly shy, but I do have some big handicaps to overcome when it comes to getting bookstores to fall all over themselves on my behalf. To wit: This is my first novel. Nobody ever heard of me. I did happen upon a useful technique for generating interest when I looked myself up on a Borders customer-use computer in Norman, OK, and pulled up all the prepub ordering information. I had it on the screen when I talked to the Community Relations person in that bookstore, and he was entirely accomodating. Unfortunately, none of the other bookstores I hit, Borders or no, had a customer-use computer.
However, the Oklahoma setting of my book served me well. I also learned quickly to provide the ordering information from my well-respected press, and to mine the favorable reviews and quotes for all they’re worth. Which, let me tell you, is a lot.
I called on two bookstores in Oklahoma City, three in Norman (where OU is located and where I lived for many years), one in Enid (where I have family), one in Stillwater (where I went to school at OSU back in the Ice Age), and three in Tulsa (where I was born and raised). I flaunted my local connections about shamelessly, which also seemed to make a difference. Every single CRC at every bookstore I called on in OK was entirely lovely and encouraging.
That said, I only set up two firm dates while I was there; one at Steve’s Books in Tulsa on Oct 21, and one at Full Circle Books in OKC on Oct 29 (see the Events page for complete information). These are my bookend dates, and I’ll try to set up all the other dates in between in such a way that I can make an efficient trip of it. Come late August/early September, I expect to be sitting at the telephone for hours with my bookstore business cards in hand, trying to get the CRCs to remember me so I can firm up signing dates.
And now, since I’ve returned, I’m trying to drum up some action here in my area. I look forward to the day when I will know exactly what I’m doing, or (my lips to God’s ears) when people actually contact me.