Writes and Wrongs: Do You do Drive-bys?

Best-selling author Shiloh Walker pens this bi-weekly column of online advice for writers. Walker is a full-time author who is published in both e-book and traditional print formats. Now she shares her experience and advice to help aspiring and published authors figure out the "Writes and Wrongs" of the digital world.

Release day for an author is insane. Sometimes you’ve signings set up, sometimes not. Sometimes you’re doing contests, sometimes not. Sometimes you’re constantly checking your Amazon rankings…head desk…why do we do this….

One thing many of us do though on release day is spaz. What is spazzing? Well…it’s wigging out…constantly checking those Amazon rankings, biting your nails to the quick, doing Googles for reviews and wondering why haven’t I seen any reviews? Didn’t anybody like it? Crap…everybody hated it and nobody is ever going to read me again!

This is spazzing.

One way I try to cope with my spazzing is by doing drive-bys. It gets me out of the house, it keeps me from constantly checking the sales rankings…and…hey, it’s promo.

What are drive-bys?

It’s hitting your local bookstores and signing stock…drive-by signings!

You don’t have to set those up…and for the most part, booksellers like it when authors come in to sign their books. At least that’s been my experience.

When I do my drive-bys, I tend take some bookmarks and pens—the pens for the booksellers, because if you’ve ever worked at a store, then you know how often you lose a pen. The bookmarks are for them to place out for the readers. 

Armed with my bookmarks and pens, I hit the bookstores in my area…generally, I check the shelves to see if my new books are there and any of my older titles. I then head to the customer service desk and introduce myself… Hi, I’m Shiloh Walker, one of your local authors and I was just wanting to see if would be okay if I signed the stock you’ve got on the shelves…?

I also do this when I’m on vacation or work trips, hitting several bookstores en route. Back in October, I had to go to Michigan for the weekend and I ended hitting like fifteen different bookstores, in three different states. 

Something else I try to do when I’m in a bookstore, particularly if it’s one that seems romance friendly, I’ll get a business card…we’ll talk about why in a later post!

Doing drive-bys is one way to kind of get your name out there to your local booksellers, and it’s definitely a way to keep you from hanging over the keyboard and wondering…why…why…why aren’t I seeing any reviews…doesn’t anybody like me anymore…?

- Shiloh Walker

Check back for the next installment of Shiloh Walker's column in two weeks. Seeking more specific advice? You can ask the author any questions about the "writes and wrongs" of online behavior here. Your question might even get featured in an upcoming article. And of course, you can also follow the Shiloh Walker online daily at her website, on her Facebook page and via Twitter.