The Book Tour Diaries, Milwaukee
Dear So and So,
I can't tear myself away from this lovely town. I'm sitting in a booth at Comet on Farwell Street. Jennifer, the event coordinator at Harry Schwartz Books recommended it. They provide "slow food" and drinks. I picked a part some bacon cakes and am about to order a plate of home made chocolate chip cookies, baked to order, a la mode.
Where's that apple now, Mike? :-)
So I bet you are wondering how the event went at my favorite bookstore in my favorite town. Well, it was definitely the biggest event in the Midwest. Eight people came to Harry Schwartz on Downer, nine if you include Stacie, an employee at a different HS, and ten if you count Jennifer who stayed to listen.
The other attendees were Sandy, Paul Ann, Jenin, Patricia, Kelly, Rose, Rosemary, and Tony. I sat with them, most of us on one side of the room, and read some stories. Stacie is a big Laurie Notaro fan, so instead of closing with that one, I started with it. It was really a great crowd and the women that came were there because they saw the event blurb in the paper. This surprised Jennifer because usually there are regulars that come to most events, but this brought in some fresh faces. Again, the low attendance has nothing to do with the efforts of the store. Harry Schwartz books promotes their authors and events like no other bookstore I've ever experienced. Nancy Quinn kicks some major bootay. I was on a radio show, blurbed in the newspaper, on their website, in their front windows, and just check out the front door, wouldja?
The women in the audience were far more traveled than myself and discussed the current state of travel in Cairo. Of course I had to read Christine Michaud's story after that, and it got great laughs. I also read an excerpt of Tamara Sheward's story.
Jennifer insisted that it has nothing to do with the book, either, because the Leo Trio sells well and I signed more than thirty books for them to keep and spread out at their other stores. I believe them because once I called the store during the off (event) season and the staff member that answered the phone recognized me by name and told me how many copies of Sand sold that weekend without even looking at his computer.
Stacie really did her homework when she introduced me. She's a big fan of the books, had taken Larry's travel writing class in France, and surprised me with a prop direct from Larry himself.
It's clear to me that there's more that I can do to help increase attendance (and sales) for my favorite indie bookstores. I just have to get my own TV show, that's all. With a broader fan base, all good numbers will fall into place. I'll ask my manager to get on that. Check. Check one, two….
PS. The only thing for an author to do after a week in the Midwest with a grand total of 16 attendees