“I got a rejection the other day,” Corey LaBissoniere tells me, and the three of us – Corey, his mom Tammy and I – snicker. We are sitting in the Portage Lake District Library community room on the Houghton, Michigan waterfront basking in a substantial audience turnout for another “Land of Enchantas” presentation and book-signing event. The Young Adult fantasy novel was picked up by Martin Sisters Publishing (http://www.martinsisterspublishing.com/?page_id=2255) and went to press in April 2013.
It’s a thrill to have it on my Kindle, but impossible to autograph in that form. Corey, bless his heart, regularly checks on my querying progress for my own novel “Loop Dee Doo.” He knows it takes 70 to 80 submissions to nab a decent agent or publisher. That means I’ve scores more queries, partials and fulls ahead of me. Does that sound whiny? I’m trying to not whine. The submission process isn’t going to change because I grow weary of adjusting specifications. This agent wants a one-page synopsis. That publisher wants a three-page outline. Some require a short bio. Others want an elevator pitch or back-jacket copy. I’m very grateful for QueryTracker (http://www.querytracker.net/) which I only recently began using. Much more efficient than writing down all the dates and info on the calendar or in a notebook.
Corey kept his initial synopsis — a summary of the book from beginning to end without any cliffhangers or teasers — and a query letter in a template that he quickly altered to address individual publishers by name. Clearly he knows the difference between stickler and fussbudget. Suspect my queries are taking longer because I’m endlessly tweaking and futzing in an effort to customize. Lesson learned: Find ways to pump out queries faster.
My major experience with book signings is watching them on TV or reading about them in books, so I was curious to see how my young friend would engage his audience and delighted that an audience showed up. Around the scheduled start time Corey looked at the eight people in the room and calmly said “We’ll wait a few more minutes” while I reminded myself that no-to-low turnouts are part of the marketing scene. Not the case for our hometown guy! In 15 minutes the room filled. It helped that clever library program coordinator Chris Alquist had scheduled the event to coincide with regular meeting of a group of young writers working in the YA genre.
Corey was endearing and entertaining, using humor to his advantage and freely admitting when he was struggling for the right words or sweating. A laptop slide show projected a general outline including a biography, books he’s been reading and the arc of the “Land of Enchantas” storyline. After a short description of each character, “I’ve been all of them at one time or another,” Corey encouraged us to go to his website and vote for our favorite: Sally, Ryan, John or Mel.
Everybody laughed when Corey’s girlfriend Chandra volunteered that her favorite character is Gusto, a brave, skillful and loveable flying carpet. And Corey learned something from his readers. We call the carpet “Goose-tow.” Corey pronounces it “Gust-Oh.”
Another audience member asked how he got the name “Enchantas.” “It rhymes with Atlantis,” he said.
Corey didn’t read any passages from the book, which breaks the common format. No one seemed to mind. The audience of 40 or queued up after the 15-to-20 minute program, ready to buy the book or get their copies signed as Tammy and Chandra manned the sales table.
In helping to bring Corey’s book to market I’ve learned concepts to apply to my work. Aside from that is the simple, satisfying reward of watching this young man who once struggled for expression come into his own.
For all our fellow book marketers and those still on the query trail out there in Authorland here’s my latest cool find, a comprehensive listing covering the spectrum of promotional outreach:
Have you had book signings, readings or given other authorly presentations? How did it go? What was your format? What would you do differently? Advice appreciated!