Last Saturday I walked a few blocks from my house (stopping along the way at the local homeless shelter to give them most of the 20 cucumbers I had picked that day!) to the Italian Family Festa sponsored by our local Italian American Heritage Society. When I published Free Gondola Ride in 2003, I did a few events with the Society, selling my book or giving talks (which I hope to do again as part of their “Meet the Author” series).
The plan on Saturday was to go up to the nice people in the booths and ask if I could leave a few flyers for my forthcoming book, a walking guide to Venice. It’s an Italian festival, and I particularly thought I’d hit the vendors of Italian things–license plates that read “Italian Stallion;” the wooden ravioli rolling pin; stack and stacks of photos of Venice and Tuscany; olive oil; Venetian masks; t-shirts that say “Kiss me I’m Italian;” and other such fun things. Various crooners sang endless versions of “That’s Amore” so that it was entrenched in my brain for the next 12 hours.
But I immediately knew my plan was a mistake. I had a little purse full of golden flyers that said, “Be Seduced by Casanova.” Okay, I know that’s cheesey, but it jumps off the page, right? So we walked by the first row of booths, and I never got the courage to step up (and neither did RJ). So we went to the wine booth instead for a cup of courage.
The next booth was filled with photos of Venice and Burano, and as we stood there admiring them, the proprietor asked us, “So what is your favorite place in Italy?” I almost blurted out, “Don’t you already know that it’s Venice?” But then I remembered that she doesn’t know me. So we started chatting and then RJ pulled out a flyer and then Pamela, for that was her name, proceeded to give me a lesson in Marketing 101.
“Remember, you can’t sell anything to anyone that they don’t want to buy,” she said. “It’s all about sharing. Share what you love with them, and many of them will want to buy it.” Pamela had been in marketing for 20 years and knew a thing or two.
“But I get embarrassed,” I said, and Pamela’s adorable soon-to-be daughter-in-law Rosie piped up, “Me too!” So I pointed to my nearly-empty cup of courage and said I had hoped it would help.
Pamela replied, “Okay, then be embarrassed, that’s okay, but get over it and talk to people anyway.” So this became the plan to hand out the rest of the flyers.
At one point RJ and I walked around behind the booths looking for rocks so we could hold down flyers on the dining tables. No rocks. Some people were happy to put out flyers, while others sighed when I asked. The smiling festval volunteers each sent me to the other booths–the check in booth, the information booth, the volunteer booth, the raffle booth. The wine tasting grove was a good spot–we met an effusive couple who shook my hand three times and told me twice that they had been to Venice. I handed out nearly all the 100 flyers. It’s a start.
Now I need a book! The manuscript has been sent to a nuclear scientist for formatting. (Smashwords has something they call the “nuclear process” to strip all formatting so the manuscript is readable by all e-reader formats.) So I think the e-book will be available in a couple weeks. But RJ had a good point–If I do readings or events, won’t it be weird to not have a paper copy to show people? Hmmm. I’m sure you’ll see more about this to come.
Shameless self-promotion is not my forte. Agent, where are you???