I’ve attended an annual Labor Day weekend rodeo in a very small town in southern Illinois for the past twelve years. For more than half those years I yearned to write a story set there. Last January my bookreleased.Second Chance Love, is about a San Antonio bull rider and a Chicago attorney who fall in love at the rodeo.
The town of Palestine, Illinois, where the rodeo takes place, is a very small town surrounded by corn and soybean fields. I knew no one there except for a few folks I’d met while sitting next to them in the stands, and I had no idea how I’d go about promoting my book and letting the people in Palestine know about it.Then a Divine appointment happened the same month my book released.
While attending a PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event, I met a couple from Palestine. I have no idea what the odds of that happening are, but they must be huge. After hearing about my book, the wife who goes by Karen, offered to help promote the story. Of course, I took her up on her offer.
A few weeks later, I heard from a woman at the town’s Chamber of Commerce office. Karen had given her a copy of the book, and she loved it. She gave it to the head of the rodeo committee, and they were considering introducing me during the three weekend rodeos over Labor Day weekend.
Labor Day was still months away, and things quieted down until this past summer when I heard from the coordinator of the street fair event. She invited to me sign my book at the street fair and planned to reserve a spot for me in front of her ice cream shop. I assured I had my own canopy (used when I attend an author fest event in my hometown), and would happily bring books to sell and sign. I then heard from the chairman of the rodeo who confirmed I’d be introduced at the beginning of all three rodeo events. Would I please send him my bio to be given to the rodeo announcer? A week before the rodeo, I head from a reporter from the Robinson, Illinois newspaper (a small town a few miles from Palestine). He planned to write an article about my book to go into a special rodeo section of the paper that week. By now I was plenty excited.
I found it hard to decide how many books to take. Experience had taught me to not expect every single person who stopped by my table to buy a book. Many people today don’t do much reading. I’ve learned from selling my books at craft fairs and other similar events, that books are in competition with television, online movies, games, and other entertainment.
As soon as I hit town on that Friday afternoon, I stopped by the Chamber office and was given a copy of the rodeo section of the paper. There was my picture and a long article with snippets from my telephone interview. That night was the first of the three rodeos, and I learned then I’d be walking out onto the arena floor alone. The rodeo announcer would stay behind the scenes on his horse, giving my intro. What took me by surprise was how he took that one-paragraph bio I’d sent and turned it into a thing of beauty. In his Texas drawl he made it friendly and folksy without embellishing. He even added a blurb about the storyline and encouraged people to stop by my canopy a signed copy of the book. While he spoke, the only thing I knew to do was wave in a queenly fashion and hold up a copy of the book. As I exited the arena (you can’t walk fast on that dirt!), the crowd applauded and I relaxed.One appearance down and two to go. Thankfully, I’d brought three different tops to wear. Jeans and boots were a given for all three events.
At the street fair, several people said they saw me introduced at the rodeo, and a few others mentioned the newspaper article. I sold about half of the books I brought with me and was pleased with that.
I learned more than one thing from the experience.
- People in small towns will go out of their way to make a person feel welcome and will work hard to help to promote a book that is set in their area.
- There is more than one way to promote a signing event. In my case it was word of mouth, newspaper publicity, and a special introduction done in a friendly way.
- Don’t go to any event expecting to sell out and don’t get hung up on that kind of expectation. Whatever you sell is a success.
- Relax and enjoy the moment, then take home the memories to be savored.
Have you had a unique experience while promoting one of your books? Please share!
Chicago lawyer Sydney Knight and Texas bull rider Jace McGowan have nothing in common but everything to lose when they are thrust together during a weekend rodeo in rural Illinois. Sydney is determined she’ll get Jace out of his contract and return to Chicago with her heart intact, but Jace is just as determined to help her see they are meant to be together. Can a city girl with roots deep in Chicago and a bull-riding rancher with roots deep in Texas give themselves a second-chance love?
Pamela S. Meyers lives in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Second Chance Love, and Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (a reissue of Love Finds You in Lake Geneva). Her novellas include: What Lies Ahead, in The Bucket List Dare collection, and If These Walls Could Talk, in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Midwestern spots for new story ideas.