Annapolis, Tee Shirts and Tartar Sauce

8-year-old Ernie Arrizi snags a Bella bookmark.

Perched 27 miles from Washington, where eye contact is hard because everyone’s peering into a Blackberry, sits historic, laid back Annapolis. Though Annapolis once served as the nation’s capital, the pace today seems deliberately unhurried. People come strolling up the street with dogs and kids in tow. They browse and chat.

There is time to listen to a self-published author explain his story.

I learned this recently outside Hard Bean, a quaint waterfront bookstore and coffee shop where I set up to plant a small flag for Bella in Maryland’s capital city. The day again reminded me that to have any chance of success, self-published authors must utilize a strategy that mixes high and low tech, in short, Tee Shirts and Twitter.

Yes, technology has radically altered the publishing landscape. Writers can reach millions of prospective readers without the aid of traditional agents and publishing houses. And there is a kind of frontier justice in the fact that real people – if you can connect with them – will decide if your book is worth reading.

Face to face trumps Facebook at Hard Bean.

But the connection is oh-so-fragile. Folks are busy; they’re dealing with jobs, bosses, a million entertainment choices, and of course the afore-mentioned kids and dogs. While some of your Tweets and posts will hit the mark, many will fall well short of the mark.

That’s why Facebook isn’t enough. Get out and add some face-to-face to the mix. Look that guy in the eye and slip your custom bookmark into his hand as you shake it. He stopped because something interested him. He wants to know more about you and your story. Tweet away, and I don’t mean on the computer.

Though it seems obvious, it will do you well to remember to be pleasant, enthusiastic and interesting. Above all, smile and remain optimistic. The serene Annapolis waterfront in view, I thought during my day at Hard Bean of Zig Ziglar, who said, “An optimist is someone who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him.”



12 Comments so far »

  1. Eva Coppersmith said,

    Wrote on June 7, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

    Nice post Steve.Thos eof us who follow on FB and Twitter do enjoy the contact though very much. At least I do.


    stevepiacente Reply:

    It’s true you can reach lots of people through social media, Eva. My question is how many are you really touching…


  2. Jenny Milchman said,

    Wrote on June 8, 2011 @ 12:14 am

    think the net has opened up a whole world of fantastic social options and connections, but you are right–nothing quite takes the place of face to face. When my novel comes out, probably in early 2013, I plan to criss cross the country, visiting friends, booksellers, and book club leaders I’ve been lucky enough to get to know over the years (you included, I hope)! I am so excited to see these people that it almost beats excitement over the book 🙂

    Nice post, and I be it’s a moment that little boy remembers for a long, long time. Possibly even when he’s an author.


    stevepiacente Reply:

    Thanks, Jenny, and be assured we will host a party for you in Rockville, MD when your book hits the street.


  3. CARL BROOKINS said,

    Wrote on June 9, 2011 @ 3:45 am

    So important. I feel sad for the authors who seem to be incessantly searching for the one marketing technique that will almost guarantee their success. That’s Diogenes searching for the honest man. One must constantly adapt, change use a little of this some more of that. All of the technology, the contacts, they all help.


    stevepiacente Reply:

    Couldn’t agree more, Carl. The challenge, I think, is in properly parsing your time, energy and resources…


  4. David Prosser said,

    Wrote on June 9, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    Well said Steve. Unfortunately I can’t do the face to face publicity that gets the books sold so I have to rely on Facebook, Twitter and press releases. It never sells as I’d like. I’ve just released my third book and am being asked to do a fourth in the run which I’m considering.So, people will have o consider me the mystery man when it comes to the selling and I hope that being pleasant online will prove to be enough for now.
    Love the quote about Moby Dick !


    stevepiacente Reply:

    I understand, David. I guess I’d advise being as open and personable as possible online. I have about six videos up on our YouTube channel – – where I try to talk about things besides the story. One’s about dedicating the book to my mom, who unfortunately is suffering from Alzheimer’s down in Florida.


  5. Jennifer Perry said,

    Wrote on June 15, 2011 @ 12:32 am

    Great post, Steve. When I’ve finished reading Bella I’d love to begin our interview! thanks.


    stevepiacente Reply:

    Thanks, Jennifer, and I’m happy to do the interview whenever you’re ready!


  6. KJ Kron said,

    Wrote on June 15, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

    I’m getting ready to release my book and am a little nervous about the face-to-face. Not in a shy kind of way but in a – will-anybody-show-up kind of way. Takes guts and it seems to work. Best of luck, KJ


    stevepiacente Reply:

    Hey, KJ, thanks for your note and congrats on the book. Keep watching this space. I’m going to put up a post soon that might be helpful.


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