Writer by Day, Karaoke King by Night

KaraokeIt’s a Saturday night at independent bookstore Brookline Booksmith and the latest author event is about to begin. The chairs have been arranged. The book signing table has been set up. But before the author, Rob Sheffield, talks about his book, the people attending– in the order in which they signed up–grab a microphone, flip through a booklet of lyrics, and belt out their favorite tunes. Turn Around Bright Eyes, is Sheffield’s story of how he started a new life as a young widower spending nights in New York City karaoke bars. Karaoke played a big part in his emotional journey and led to him meeting his second wife. Karaoke also plays a big part in his book launch, getting readers to come to his events and plunk down the price of a Saturday night dinner to buy his book. 

It’s a clever marketing tool, taking a theme from your written work and making it a vehicle to generate sales. I’m sure plenty of karaoke lovers show up at his events who hadn’t heard of Sheffield before. Some of them probably don’t even read very much. What a great way to build an audience.Gone are the days when authors stood stiffly at podiums, wore drab, rumpled suits with elbow patches, or uninspired pantsuit and blouse/shirt combos to deliver flat presentations.

Authors and publishers are realizing that getting the buying public to pay attention, in this day of flashy video games and fast-paced social networking, requires creative thinking.Cookbook authors have been catching on lately. At Trident Booksellers and Café in Boston’s Back Bay, for example, the author of EATS: Enjoy All the Seconds, has a September 15th engagement to not only talk about her book, but to give a “free” cooking demonstration, billed as an event to ensure that readers will never be faced with tossing away the healthiest foods again. I doubt if all those in attendance, dining on balsamic strawberries and carrot and cumin fritters, will eat and run before making a pit stop at the cash register.This has me thinking.

My novel in progress features an African drummer. I’m making a mental note to book African drummers to do a demo or mini class when I eventually launch my book. I’m curious to know if anyone else has been to a nontraditional book event or hosted one. What other approaches are authors and publishers, and publicists using these days to get a reader’s attention?

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About lisabraxton

Lisa Braxton, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and her Master of Science degree in Journalism at Northwestern University. She is the immediate past president of the Women’s National Book Association/Boston Chapter and an Emmy-nominated journalist. She is a former television news anchor and reporter and spent her television career at stations in Champaign, Illinois, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and Hartford, Connecticut. She is also a former newspaper reporter and radio reporter. She currently lives in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Lisa has been published in numerous literary journals, including Snake Nation Review, Foliate Oak, and Meetinghouse: A Journal of New England Fiction, Clockhouse Review, and Literary Brushstrokes.
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