A Story of Twitterly Friendship and Brilliant Book Marketing

How to Meet Your Author-Crush: Invite Her to Your City

I met Jennifer Miller on the Internet.

The backstory: I’d been revising and querying a YA novel, so I was studying YA novelists and stalking a few of my favorites on Twitter, when I saw this FB post by my friend Sean Cole:

I didn’t know of Jen Miller, but clicked the video (a trailer for THE YEAR OF THE GADFLY), which turned out to be the coolest, cleverest book trailer I’ve ever seen.

Marketing. Genius. That’s the moment I decided that I wanted to meet Jen and, hopefully, get a little bit of that brilliance on me. At the very least, I thought, this seems like a person who’d be intensely fun to have cocktails with one day.

Problem: She lives in Brooklyn. So I tweeted at her.

And she replied.

The Twitter chatter didn’t end there. Soon we were cooking up a scheme to get her to Nashville to promote her book. In a time of dwindling funding from publishers for plush book tours, creative marketing (and funding) is essential. So we brainstormed how to reach potential fans here: students, book clubs, teens. I started e-introducing her to Nashville literary types she needed to know. And I invited her to crash at Halcyon House for a long weekend.

Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, @propjen (a most excellent Twitter handle beloved of all fans of “The Wire,” BTW) was cooking up schemes of her own. Not to mention, cookies.

Book Marketing, Lesson 2

“Novelade”—appealing term, fantastic idea. But how many authors would actually do this: set up a sidewalk stand on a smoking-hot Brooklyn summer day, bake cookies to give away, and sell novels to passers-by?

A lemonade stand for books, basically.

It’s hard work, after all; and it requires a certain flexibility of ego, a personality relatively free of puffery and self-importance, and replete with good humor. (Can you see Franzen relaxing and having that much fun with anything?)

Here’s the thing: @propjen says she’s sold more books at “Novelade” than at some bookstore events. Even better, she gets press coverage for her creative marketing ideas. And because she’s a journalist, she finds plenty of opportunities to market herself in print.

When @propjen started tweeting about her novelade stand last summer, my author-crush on her grew ever deeper.

The end of this story: @propjen is taking Novelade on the road—first stop, Nashville. Check her out on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 11-2 in front of Imogene+Willie on 12th Avenue South. Say hello. Eat a cookie. And on Saturday night (6:30-?), Halcyon House throws her a party, in which book lovers and wine drinkers converge, sip, nosh, and (hopefully) buy a few copies of her excellent novel, THE YEAR OF THE GADFLY. Join us if you dare!

The Moral

Why befriend authors a thousand miles away, invite them to your home, and shout about their work through your megaphone, you ask?

Why the #&!! not do that? Here’s my philosophy: Reaching out to artists whose work you enjoy is never the wrong thing to do. It’s win-win to connect with smart, energetic, creative people, every single time. And if I learned anything at all from the amazing Hal Humphreys, it’s that you can never have too many brilliant folks in your metaphorical (and actual) address book. Not because you need or want anything from them necessarily, but because life’s more interesting when you fill it with fascinating people doing innovative things. They seed your brain with ideas and crackling energy. And whether you mean to or not, you wind up getting some of their brilliance on you…and who knows where that might lead?

Where befriending cool people led most recently  #Cambodia

8 thoughts on “A Story of Twitterly Friendship and Brilliant Book Marketing

  1. Connect with all the interesting people you can meet; love it, live it, share it.  There are plenty of slumpy intellects and vapid people, but if you fill your life with the vivacious lot you will always tend towards the positive and trend others towards the same.  Whether one sees a providential path or agnostic void, there are people to encounter and both( all )lives can be enriched by the contact.  Why should one ever meet a stranger?  Once you have met them they are only a stranger if one of the interacting parties keep them in that restained classification.  While there are some cultures that value privacy and others that even value deception for their gain, so many people truly enjoy being part of the human race when they are allowed to be.   We limit ourselves to other’s expectations and demands.  Opening up does leave one vunurable but open to pain and gain that others miss.   I’m in Brasil again for three weeks and they love me here!  My over-the-top personallity suits many here.  They are a vivacious bunch and love anyone that will open up to them.  Think of Southern hospitality without the syruppy pretenciousness mixed with unconstrained Catholic Yankees and a good helping of Southern CA pizzaz plus a little mix of western grit.    My Gringo colleagues only want to stay in Rio but I’m comfortable in so many of the towns that I now have ‘friends’ scattered across the country and can usually scare up a tour guide or dinner quest wherever I roam.    The dicotomy of their economy is absolutely in your face wherever you wander in Brasil.  Abject poverty surrounds a Masarati driving down a paralelepipedo( cobble stone road )and they don’t break stride.  Too much to jabber on about.    I am really enjoying your current series, Great writing Kim.

  2. This seems like a great way to stick it to The (publishing) Man.

    If there is indeed a (publishing) The Man to whom it may be stuck. I assume there is, but I can’t be sure. Anyway, great job.

  3. Meeting internet friends is THE BEST! I took a leap of faith a few years ago and met four fellow bloggers in California. We all stayed at one woman’s home and went to Disneyland. It was amazing and the friendship lives on. Met again last year in Arizona. I’m hoping for another in Asheville soooooooon!
    I wish I was there to help support! Have a great time!

  4. I don’t feel called to write a book, but I would love to market one this way. How very excellent! And I would open my humble guest bedroom to any author with this sense of adventure and fun. Maybe there’s a publisher’s list I can get on to make that happen.

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