Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for October: 10/5 Carolina Crimes: Rock, Roll and Ruin 10/12 Alicia Beckman, Blind Faith 10/19 J. Woollcott, A Nice Place To Die 10/26 Carol J. Perry, High Spirits

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

I’ve attended a few bookstore events since Cabin Fever’s publication last month. I’d love to say I was overwhelmed with the positive response, but that’s not the case. I can attribute the lack of success to a variety of causes, although my being unknown is likely the major factor.

Timing can be everything. For example, at one bookstore my event was a Saturday afternoon (normally a decent time). However it conflicted with a wonderful farmers market/artists booth sale/classic car show held at the central town square on a beautiful spring day. Worse, the bookstore had a launch party for a local author’s “food book” that evening, which involved not only the bookstore but many other merchants in the town. How many people are going to go to two book events in a day?

Having exactly no one show up at that signing was disappointing. I recently spoke with CJ Lyons, who said she rarely does bookstore signings anymore because they are not worth her time. She then added an important caveat, “unless you are just trying to build relationships with booksellers.”

Exactly. Most people who read my books really enjoy them. Goodreads and Amazon reviews of my books have been favorable (On Goodreads Bad Policy ratings average 4.55 and Cabin Fever currently averages 4.88. For Amazon the ratings are 4.75 and 4.78.)

The key to my success is to have people read the books – at least people who like page-turning mystery/thrillers. For that I need proponents and, until I have legions of fans, for that I need independent booksellers.

At each signing I introduce myself and my books to someone who can sell them. Unfortunately, I am not alone in this endeavor and independent booksellers are inundated with people vying for their time. All I can do is continue to try and appreciate every bookstore that allows me to appear in their venue.

So, thank you all independent bookstores—those who already know me and those who will learn of me later. I’m rooting for your success and hoping we share a prosperous future.

~ Jim


E. B. Davis said...

You're doing a great job, Jim. At Malice, Jim participated in the Malice-Go-Round, which is an event where two authors are paired and each have a few minutes to introduce their books to each table of conference attendees. After they finish at one table they do it again at the next. This goes on for about an hour and a half. I was at Table 10. I'm not sure how many tables there were, but it has to take great endurance. Gloria Alden also participated in the Go-Round. Jim was paired with Krista Davis. (Gloria--with Judy Hogan) They did a great job, and both could be heard--a plus! Sunday Jim will participate in a panel, which I plan to attend.

Jim Jackson said...

Thanks Elaine. I had the pleasure of sitting at Hank Phillipi Ryan's table when she won her Agatha for best contemporary mystery.

So exciting and also sitting at the table was Jenny Milchmann -- winner of the Mary Higgins Clark award for Cover of Snow. (Hank won last year for The Other Woman.)

Such Fun!

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, you're so right about the importance of independent bookstores. I've done events with over 200 attending and events with only four people. I always try to give them my best, no matter what. the bookstore staff appreciate that, I know, as do those few who take the time to attend. I have seen on BookScan that, no matter how many or how few books I sell at a reading/signing, my books continue to sell well in that locale for several weeks after the event. I attribute that to the booksellers and any publicity that they did for the event.

I know a number of NYT besteselling authors like CJ Lyons who choose not to do many events or book tours any longer. But they all did them while getting to that point. I suspect that, if I were a NYTBS, I might find them wasteful of my time also, but as someone trying to build a fanbase as you are, I think they're a critical part of the process.

KM Rockwood said...

Just have to keep slugging away. Your books are wonderful (I've read them both) but it's a matter of getting them into the public eye, and it's slow going at first. But that's where the persistence (or is it stubborness?) comes in to play.