Feel free to share your own experiences/insights. Or, tell me I’m just plain wrong.
1. You know the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?” Well, that’s true when it comes to your first book. Ideally, you want your first book to do well because you have a story to tell. Yet, there’s no telling how long it will take a publisher to accept your next manuscript.
2. There’s a prevailing theory that literary readings don’t sell books. Book reviews sell books. I don’t know how true this is, but once your book is published, send out review copies yourself. If your publisher has the means to do it, great. But most publishers are young upstarts with little resources for items such as postage. And, no one knows the local media better than you.
3. Send out advance copies as early as possible. Even three months in advance may be too late.
4. Set up readings five to six months in advance of the book’s release. This makes it easy to plan multiple readings, as well as helps in scheduling with booksellers.
5. Use your friends and relatives to help set up readings in other cities. For example, I have an aunt in Atlanta who has connections in her community. She may be able take the first step to coordinate an event. (Yes, I’ll be calling you soon, Aunt Mary.)
6. If you’re an unknown entity, a double bill will draw more people to your event. You don’t have to read with someone more established that you, but pick someone with community roots to fill those seats.
7. Be open-minded about the venues. Bookstores and colleges are great. But a reading for a book club at someone’s house with a Q&A after may net you more book sales, and grow your reputation.
8. I’m preaching to the choir here, but blogs and virtual book tours are still relatively new but just as effective as a book review in a print publication.