Baseball and Book Launches
Welcome to Friday Rambles. I’d like to start by saying you have my husband to blame thank for this particular post. : )
In nineteen days, pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training. OMG, it’s almost baseball season!!! Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a Texas Rangers fan since before I knew the difference between a strike and a ball. Summer vacations were pretty simple back then. We had family in Texas, so we’d pack up the Oldsmobile and head south to Dallas. We’d spend a few days with my Grandma and Grandpa, another day or two with my Granny, visit various aunts, uncles and cousins, then head into the “big city” to stay at a hotel. Gasp – a real hotel, with the miniature bars of soap, baby shampoo bottles and housekeeping banging at the door before we’d had a chance to get out of bed. For those few days we did two things: went to Six Flags to ride roller coasters, and visited Arlington Stadium. Bliss.When the Rangers organization built The Ballpark at Arlington, going to our first game there was like a pilgrimage to a holy land. I had a friend take a picture of me on my knees in front of the home plate entrance. It was a religious experience, let me tell you.
Now, we have half-season tickets. We go out there with my kids, or my dad, or even—gasp—with a few adult friends for date night. We know all the mid-inning gimmicks (Kids Steal-a-Base, singing Yellow Rose of Texas, Kiss Cam, Flex Cam, and, my favorite—the sport of kings…The Dot Race). Baseball is summer to me.
Now, you’re probably asking what the heck this trip down memory lane has to do with book launches? That’s easy—launching a book is a lot like preparing for a baseball season:
- Practice The first step is to hone your writing. This starts long before you even think about playing in the majors or publishing a book. You work on your craft. You get coaching. You try out for teams (or contests, as it were). You get feedback to see if you have what it takes to make it in a tough market with difficult odds for success.
- Training Let’s say you make the team (or decide to publish a book). Then the real work starts. Spring Training is exactly like readying a book for publication. You edit to polish your work so that it shines. You make tweaks to ensure better success. You chance your stance or the way you throw or re-write your ending to make your work tighter. It’s a necessary step.
- Marketing So the Rangers’ season tickets guy starts calling me in December. First game isn’t until the first week of April, and the last game only ended in October. Yet, there he was, asking what plan I wanted this year, and trying to upsell (this year, it worked). It’s the same thing with a book launch. To receive good exposure you need to contact book bloggers, come up with an eye-catching, professional-looking cover, have an updated website and build an online social media presence. Books aren’t “If I write it, they will come.” Writers have to search for readers, and it’s hard work. Starting early, like my season ticket guy, is the trick to success there.
- Selling Your Product The Texas Rangers had more sellouts and sold more tickets than nearly any team in the MLB last year. There were two reasons. 1) The front office had worked really hard to put together a team of strong talent who could win games. But not just that—they put together a team that was free from egos (except for Josh Hamilton, but he’s with the Angels now, so that’s their problem). Young, hungry guys out there ready to prove themselves every single day. It was super-fun to watch them play—they took real joy and pride in their work. 2) The Rangers’ marketing team worked overtime. Promotions, a family atmosphere at the stadium (they even had “bring your dog” night!) and relatively inexpensive tickets for a major sporting event (bleacher seats were $10—try to find a $10 seat in Yankee Stadium…you can’t do it) brought the fans running. To launch a book well you have to price it right, show it off and even give away books and other swag to draw readers in.
- Quality When the Texas Rangers were the butt of most jokes in the American League (longest running franchise without a single play-off game win), they couldn’t give away tickets to the games. But when that front office went after young, cheap talent and poured resources into developing them, they started to win. In fact, they made it to back-to-back World Series (don’t talk to me about the infamous “game-6” against the Cards. I’m still bitter). And that’s when they started packing the stadium. The same holds true for a book launch. Put together a well-written, well-edited, visually-appealing (both cover and interior formatting) novel, and readers will talk about your book with other readers. Word of mouth is the most powerful sales tool out there.
My first set of Rangers’ tickets are for April 6 against the Angels. I can smell the nachos already. J My first book (MA: Monster Hunter) launched in August of 2012, and the second launched in December 2012 (MA: Blade’s Edge). Now, while the Rangers are battling for the pennant, I’ll be wrestling with the manuscript currently known as Matt Archer 3, getting it ready for its own debut in July. Looks like the boys of summer and I will both be busy training this spring.
So, what’s your favorite sports’ movie? I waffle between Major League and The Replacements. I love a good underdog tale.