Ever since The Old Buzzard Had It Coming was published last July, I’ve spent most of my time trying to get my name out there. Many years ago, in my rose-lipped youth, I handled public relations for the Lubbock City-County Library System. That was easy compared to this. In Lubbock, I had built in outlets for library publicity – local tv and radio stations and the Lubbock Avalanche Journal (one of the great American newspaper names, though how they came up with “avalanche” is a poser. There isn’t a hill within 200 miles of Lubbock, which is located on the llano estacado – the staked plains – so called because the early European explorers had to pound stakes in the ground at intervals so they could find their way back across the featureless terrain.)
But I digress.
I’m trying to promote myself to a bunch of supremely disinterested people all over this far-flung land. I’ve had some success in the Phoenix area since I’m a local, including two very nice newspaper articles. I’ve been lucky to have a number of local library appearances without having to work at it very much, due to my past as a librarian at Arizona State University and to my husband Don’s former career at Tempe Public Library. My upcoming appearance at Peoria (AZ) Public Libary and at the Arizona Library Association Annual Conference are both due to the good offices of a man named David Hunenberg, who worked for me at ASU in the dim and misty past. Now he’s a high muckimuck in the Peoria library system, and not only in a position, but of an inclination, to be of a great help to me now. This is a living example, Dear Reader, that what goes around comes around.
My first solo appearance was arranged for me by my friend Nan, who is in charge of publicity for Poisoned Pen Press. She set me up to speak before a group of P.E.O women. This was a relaxed and pleasant venue in a private home before a dozen extremely welcoming women, and a very good experience for me. The Press sold 23 books to 12 people at that event! On Sept. 12, I did a talk at Tempe Public Library, thanks to Don’s former compatriots Kim and Gail, and especially Adriennne, who put out a lot of nice publicity for me. Nine or so people showed up that Monday night. It was a most pleasant group. I had no idea what to expect. I’ve heard (and seen) even successful authors hold signings and talks at which one or two people show. I won’t be a bit surprised if all the rest of my signings are like that.
My first bookstore signing, aside from the launch, occurred at a Barnes & Noble two days after the feature about me appeared in the Arizona Republic. There were 35 people standing around waiting for me to show! Paul, the community relations manager for the bookstore, feared that he didn’t have enough books, so Don ran out and brought back 20 or so of my own copies just in case. Turned out we didn’t need them — the bookstore had 5 copies left when we finished. Don lugged my 20 books back out to the car and never complained once, bless his heart, even though his arms were pulled right out of their sockets.
I’ve been contacting every media outlet I can think of in Oklahoma in preparation for my October book tour (see the ‘Events’ page for my schedule). There will be a feature running in the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, though I don’t know when, and I just heard that the Tulsa Daily World will be doing a feature on me Sunday, Oct. 16, just six days before my appearance there. Getting the Oklahoma papers interested wasn’t too hard, since I’m a native and the book is very much set in Oklahoma.
It all goes to show that no experience in one’s life, however unlikely, is ever wasted. I did public relations for two years, thirty years ago, and I owned a business for a decade. Both taught me skills that I thought I’d never use again. Little did I know.