I was at the ACFW National Conference this past September. The first thing I did upon arrival was head to the bookstore to see what was available. I had very specific criteria: it had to be weird and/or I had to know the author or at least have heard of them. Emphasis on the former. I found a few interesting books but Shade was not one of them.
Later on, I bumped into John Olson. I told him I was a bit disappointed I couldn't find a copy of his book in the store. He told me that they hadn't arrived yet, that they would be available the next day, but that there were only going to be six copies.
The next morning, as soon as the opening session was done, I bolted out of the ballroom and made a mad dash to the store. Sure enough, the clerks were setting out the stack of six books. I launched myself into the fray and was one of the lucky few to get a copy. And for the rest of the conference, I could smile smugly as I overheard people complain that they wanted a copy but the store had sold out.
Okay, so maybe I ratcheted up the dramatic tension there a little. I'm a storyteller at heart. But why was I so anxious to get my hands on it?
It all has to do with anticipation. Perhaps I should explain.
Two years earlier, at a different ACFW National Conference, I had the privilege of meeting John Olson for the first time. He taught the speculative fiction track and I shared a meal or two with him. In the midst of chatting, he told us all about a story he had written. A story about vampires. Apparently when one of his friends read the story and then had to sleep with the lights on. He told us about how an agent (he gives the name in his Acknowledgements; consider this another enticement to go and buy the book yourself) told him he wouldn't touch the story with a ten foot pole.
Needless to say, I was intrigued. A Christian vampire story? That strong of a reaction from two different people? I had to see this book for myself. When I saw John Olson mention that Shade was coming out on his Facebook profile, I sent him a message to ask him if it was that book. Sure enough, it was.
I bring this up because I think there's a valuable lesson for us author-types. Buzz can really build your book.
Look at what's happened with The Shack. Here's a book that, for good or ill, has built a lot of buzz around itself. People are sharing this thing with all sorts of different people. The buzz sustains sales, keeps it in the public eye, and garners more readers. Just this past weekend, someone asked me if I had read it yet. I haven't. But I'm planning to just so I can see what the buzz is about.
In a smaller way, that's what happened with Shade and me. I looked forward to getting my hands on the book, not necessarily because I enjoy vampire stories (I didn't enjoy the last one I read all that much) but because I had to see what it was all about. It worked on me.
So how do we generate that buzz for our own books? Darned if I know. This blog tour certainly helps. But beyond that, I can't really say for certain. All we can do is keep plugging away and hope that we strike upon it.
Oh, and one last note. One of the five other hands reaching in to snatch up a copy of Shade at the Conference as the aforementioned friend of John Olson's, the one who slept with his lights on. Needless to say, that brought a smile to my face.
Go and see what the other tourists have to say:
CSFF Blog Tour
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here