Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Putting in the Time, Effort, and Miles

At the beginning of July, Dale (my grandfather-in-law who I’m writing the biography about) visited us and helped me with the chapters I’d already finished. While he was here, we discussed the need to go to the town he was born in and visit his ranch so I could get photos. Since he lives in Arizona, we had to figure out details of when he could come back. We decided the best time would be September.

Since I didn’t have my calendar with me (I always leave it at work), I had to take a photo of it to send to my husband so he could figure out what weekend was going to work the best. His first remark after seeing my schedule was, “Wow! You’re gone a lot in September.”

And I had to do my best to hold back my snicker. September is nowhere near as busy as July has been.

But he did have a point: I have been traveling a lot—more than I have in the past—and I have several more trips coming up before the end of the year. I even have some scheduled for next year already. Some of them in Wyoming, some across the country.

I’m looking forward to all of my engagements. I always have so much fun when I get out, but it does get tiring. It means I have to take time away from my job, which pays my bills. I’m away from my family and my dogs.

So why do I do it?

There’s several reasons why. Part of it is to increase book sales, but this is a small part. For most of my appearances, the only books I bring are my own that I use for display purposes. I’ve missed out on a few sales because I didn’t have any to sell, but the point of me doing my workshops and presentations isn’t solely to make sales. It’s to get me out there. It’s to give me a chance to talk about what I’m passionate about. Sales are just the cream on top.

And not every workshop/presentation ends with a chance to sell my books. However, some of the best words I’ve heard after giving my speech are, “I’ll have to check out your books.”

In fact, I heard this exact phrase after doing my presentation in Basin. It was said by some parents who attended the workshop with their kids, and it totally made my day.

The biggest reason why I travel and do these appearances is for branding. As an author, you’ve probably heard this about a million times. You brand yourself, not your work. By being an expert in certain subjects and sharing my knowledge with audiences, I’m branding myself. In most instances, I’m branding myself as a zombie or slasher film expert, and I love every minute of it.

Doing these presentations gives me a chance to talk about so much more than the book. I’m not limited to the words I’ve put on the page, but I get to talk about my passions and obsessions. I get to geek out. I get to express my excitement over research or gush about what I learned while writing. I get to network with people who share my passions. I get to be inspired by those at the workshops.

The travel can be difficult. Unfortunately, I live in the least populated state in the nation, so the distance between my town and where I give presentations can be vast. I’ve driven 6 hours before to do a 1-hour presentation. For the conferences I’m attending, I have to drive 2 hours to the airport, then fly for however long it takes me to get to my destination. Again, all of this for a short presentation.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth putting in the time and miles for people to know who I am. Even if they don’t buy my books, hopefully they’ll remember what I talked about. Hopefully I’ll inspire them to go out and find their own answers or write their own books. Hopefully I’ll teach them something new.

The world isn’t going to come to me, I have to go to the world. It’s scary putting myself out there, especially because that means I open myself up to criticism. But there’s also a chance something wonderful and amazing can happen, and I’m willing to take a risk to see what that is.