Launching, and being a Guerrilla Marketeer
It’s a lazy summer Sunday, perfect for lounging around dreamily. And I have been lounging around, but I don’t get to do it dreamily because I am working away feverishly on a multitude of projects. And it’s been an extremely busy week, with lots of Rook-related occurrences occurring.
To begin with, on Wednesday the wonderful owners and staff of the Dymocks bookstore (http://www.dymocks.com.au/) in Civic (which is the city centre area of Canberra) were kind enough to host the Australian launch of The Rook.
Now, I had been quite anticipatory about this, because ever since I shyly announced to the world that I had a book which was going to be published, the immediate response of many of my friends and acquaintances was to say brightly, “Invite me to the launch!’ And I didn’t know anything about launches. I’d never attended one. I suspect that they hadn’t either, but they seemed to have quite set ideas about what such things involved. And I didn’t quite dare ask, for fear of looking ignorant.
Thankfully, the Dymocks staff are well acquainted with book launches, and they were able to take me firmly in hand, and make sure that the event involved everything it needed to. They supplied the food, and the drink, and the multitudinous copies of The Rook. All I had to do was show up, say a few things, and sign whatever was thrust in front of me.
I was petrified.
The nerves started building up a couple of hours before the launch. It was becoming increasingly clear that this was going to be an Occasion. My parents would be there. Various friends were going to be there. Members of the public were going to be there. My glorious editor from HarperCollins Australia was going to be flying up from Sydney to attend. And I had to speak.
Now, I’m not a shy person, as anyone who has met me will attest. But this was going to be different. This was a life event, like a christening, or a wedding, or a birth (although I don’t know how many speeches get made at those.) And I was fully prepared to believe that some malignant muse would possess me, and I’d spew forth a selection of epithets and obscenities before collapsing in a seizure onto the cheese platter. Such a development couldn’t possibly good for sales.
But, in the minutes beforehand, I found myself feeling a lot better. People I knew kept flowing in, and I got to chat with them, and embrace them, and blush a little when they pointed out the book that had been shelved in various different locations around the store. My glorious editor, Anna Valdinger, stood up, and with her delicious English accent made a really nice speech, and then I got up, and saw all these faces, and it was all people I knew, and loved. And a couple of complete strangers who’d wandered in, but they were smiling at me as well. And I gave my little speech of thanks, and answered a few questions, and torches and pitchforks weren’t produced.
And then I commenced the signing. Lots of signing. The whole thing is a blur of little tailored messages for people, and the alarming evolution of my signature (over the course of the evening I developed an entirely new way of writing the letter ‘M’ that I am very pleased with.) Now, since I am left-handed, of course my hand was smeared liberally with ink, and I agonized a little that various people’s precious keepsakes would be smeared, but I consoled myself with the fact that they would at least be authentically smeared by the author, and that would probably add some value to it.
Afterwards I went out for dinner with Anna the Glorious Editor, and Jodi who is my earthly representative from HarperCollins Australia, and it was great. I fell into bed that evening, replete with very good Indian food, and satisfaction.
And then the next evening I got to do it all again at Impact Comics (www.impactcomics.com.au/web) , which is the comic-book shop that I patronize, and to which I have been coming since I was twelve and it was Impact Records and was contained in a different location. So, when I wandered in, and saw that they were handing out laminated Checquy security passes (which can later be used a magnets!) I almost had a nervous breakdown of joy. I was interviewed by Ryan K Lindsay, Renaissance Man (http://www.stinkbrown.org/), and then did yet more signing. Great evening.
Meanwhile, other cool things have been happening. Most recently, if you skitter on over to the fine website of Suvudu (located in the classy neighbourhood of http://sf-fantasy.suvudu.com/2012/01/new-release-interview-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley.html ), you will find an interview with me, in which I talk about various things, including the gestation of a sequel to The Rook.
Also, there have been some very nice reviews released upon the world. Parade Magazine (which, for the non-Americans among you, is a Sunday magazine that is distributed in more than 500 newspapers, and is the most widely read magazine in the USA) put forward The Rook as one of its Parade Picks!
Laura de Leon’s blog I’m Booking It gave her top ten reasons for liking The Rook at http://blog.imbookingit.com/2012/01/24/the-rook/ .
At http://thebooksmugglers.com/2012/01/book-review-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley.html , The Book Smuggler says (among other things) that ‘if you’re looking for the antidote to the same old, lackluster, run-of-the-mill UF, look no further. The Rook is awesome. I can only hope for more Myfanwy in the future.’
And also my hometown newspaper, the Canberra Times, featured a review of The Rook by Colin Steele, a man of letters who, for decades now, has figured prominently in my personal pantheon of heroes. And he finished his review by saying “The Rook is certainly cool.’
And life was good.
But the adventures don’t stop there. Yesterday, I engaged in a bit of guerrilla marketing, thought up by the aforementioned Glorious Editor. For those of you who haven’t read The Rook, it’s characterized by a series of letters that explain the world of the book. Anna’s idea was to print out a copy of the first letter from the book, on official-looking letterhead, and then leave them in places where people would find them. They’re already opened, and addressed ‘To You’, and it was thought that finding such a letter might pique people’s interest, and lead them to the book.
Anna had given me a couple of them while she was down in Canberra to make her speech at the launch, and I cautiously took a couple along to CanCon, which is the local annual gaming convention. I thought I’d place the envelopes cunningly, with all the suave insouciance of a Checquy agent. I hoped that someone would pick it up and look around, bewildered. Maybe they’d catch a fleeting glimpse of me in a crowd, my eyebrow raised, and that, when they chased me down, like that, I’d be gone.
Of course, it turned out less immediately cool than that.
To begin with, the place was crawling with people. And there were remarkably few places that one could just leave an envelope. I didn’t at all like the idea of sandwiching it between some of the stacked boardgames at the stalls. These were other people’s places of business, after all, and I don’t want to interfere with their livelihoods.
Then there were many, many tables, but all of those were taken up by people playing board games, or else they were covered in those vast, compelling replica landscapes that people build for their miniature soldiers to do combat on. I’ve always found those things fascinating, but I walk even more carefully around them than I do around museum exhibits. My hands will not bring themselves out of their pockets if there is a reproduction battlefield nearby, for fear that I will knock over a fortification, or inadvertently smear a tiny Napolean, or impale myself on a spire. So that was out.
The laser tag arena didn’t strike me as the sort of place where people would stop what they were doing to pick up an envelope. And if they did, I thought it might get handed in to the guy running it.
In the end, I casually sat down on a handy bench, smiled casually at the young lady who was sitting at the other end with her child, and then casually pretended to read my book while casually sliding the envelope onto the bench, and then casually sauntering away.
I was totally braced for a helpful call of ‘excuse me! You’ve casually left your envelope behind!’ In which case, I was either going to return shamefacedly, or pretend innocence and confusion (“that envelope? Why, it’s not mine. What does it have inside?”), or else bolt away, which I like to think would have added a touch of mystery to the whole thing, but might also have resulted in security getting called in.
But, no helpful calls came, and the convention was not evacuated because of a mysterious open envelope. I wandered around for half an hour, buzzing a little from my awesome deployment of guerilla marketing techniques, and then I casually wandered by the bench, only to see that the envelope was still there, untouched. Rather deflated, my friends and I left, but I do hope that someone picked it up eventually, and that is wasn’t just a member of the cleaning staff who threw it automatically into the garbage.