Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seek and you shall Find -Thanks to the sponsors!

Corporate sponsorship is a great way to get your books into the hands of your reading fans.

Venture Credit Union has a special relationship with SERVOL LIfe Centre in Chaguanas. When I visited Venture's Head Office with my "Bag of Books", I found there was enthusiasm to expose and enrich the Servol students to my work as a children's book author as a part of their Career Guidance program. Through Venture's generosity I was able to hand each teen a copy of an Island Fiction title, (why give them a children's book when IF was hot off the press?!).

I encouraged them to read then swap, purchase others at RIK stores and/ or ask for IF! titles at their neighborhood libraries so they could cover all six!

I have been able to tour the length and breadth of Trinidad with my own children's books through the kind sponsorship of Nestle Trinidad in 2006 and 2007 during which time they pre-purchased 1,000 books which I distributed as gifts to the children after my read aloud/ meet-the-author sessions. Even though I had initially sought an opportunity to continue this work, I opted to purchase and present IF this time and not my own books, and with good reason. I have found over the last ten years that serving a broader interest and meeting the needs of the opportunity at hand, go much further than just grabbing at any immediate cash benefits. The professional exposure is key and pays off in terms of career building.

Many authors think that writing a book, then getting it published if you're lucky or talented enough is the end of it. I think, if you wanta to connect with your readers, do a little research about the business of books and come to appreciate the realities of the market place. You will understand without need of lecture or explanation just how helpful it is to "parent" your work along the way.

I recommend looking to our most natural, organic connections for networking corporate sponsors. Make the decision about what you want to accomplish, get your feet on the street starting where you are - either geographically, intuitively or network wise. Rather than reaching for something, build and spread outwards from one connection to another:

1. Scan your neighborhood and local news for businesses who are already serving your target audience.
2. Don't let pride get in the way - approach family and friends who may be able to help. Just do so without expectation. A natural easy fit is far more lucrative and expansive in the long run.
3. Find confidence in what you have to offer - I do not see this as asking favors. If you do, I encourage you to re-evaluate your work, your presence in the cultural landscape and recognize the gift you, and only you and your story can bring. It is in that sense a duty to make this effort on your own behalf.
4. Be willing to do pro bono sessions, (but discern when this feels appropriate). As you refine your presentation and see what works, the heat your activities make will stir up other opportunities before too long.
5. Be willing to budget some of your own 'give aways' during the year - Use them wisely and the circulation will pay off.

And last but not least _ Share your success stories and ideas with other IF! authors - I am finding that community builds creative careers far better than competition. Log on to each other's sites, blogs, connect on face book etc. Just one hour a week even will stimulate the energy to fulfill your sales goals.

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