Nowadays, it’s clear that authors must do their own publicity. When you submit a book to an agent, many will actually ask about how big a social media presence a potential author has. And aside from mega-bestselling authors, there must be a relentless hustle of appearing on any podcast or at any conference that will have you.
Back then, there was some hope that one’s publisher would handle publicity. But truth be told, as a mid- list author, there was little more than putting out an initial press release and sending copies to the newspapers that were still doing book reviews. There’s obviously a lot less newspapers today and sadly even those surviving don’t do as many book reviews.
I was friendly with the Los Angeles mystery bookstore owners and did a big signing at The Scene of the Crime. There were several other authors and it was great fun commiserating. I wanted to support independent bookstores but would have done a signing at a kid’s lemonade stand if they would have allowed me. So I also got to know managers from the chain stores.
A couple of memorable moments:
Doing a signing at a Waldenbooks, I had about a dozen people come over to my table, and a half dozen sales. One of those who didn’t buy just came up and said, “You’re Mark Schorr?” I nodded. He nodded back and walked away. Both of us disappointed.
After my signing, the manager came up to me and said he was surprised. “The last signing we had, the line stretched all the way out the door.” Needless to say, I was crushed, and shamefacedly asked, “Oh, who was it?” “Raquel Welch.” For those too young to remember, she was at one point a reigning Hollywood sex symbol.
Raquel Welch, 1970s
Another signing was more exciting. It was in a mall in the heart of downtown, right across the street from police headquarters and the courts. I was signing a book, my attention on the inscription, when my arms were grabbed, I was shoved face down toward the table, and handcuffed. Two detectives I knew had surprised me. It got attention from the lunch time crowd and hopefully helped to move a few extra copies.