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!
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?