Book marketing ideas from A to Z for Arizona’s centennial (Part 1)
Twelve or 15 years ago, I was watching a craft show on Home & Garden Television (HGTV). The host of the show was working on an Arizona-themed quilt at Disneyland or Disneyworld, and she stated quite matter-of-factly that Arizona became a state on February 14, 1910. Now I grew up in Phoenix, and one thing I remember through my years of Arizona history is our statehood day: February 14, 1912. That and the 5 Cs: cattle, citrus, climate, copper, and cotton. But I heard this woman – speaking from a Disney location – and immediately doubted myself. Funny how we can undermine our own knowledge when faced with the “authority” of a talking head on the TV machine, the booming voice of a radio personality, or the witty words of any hack with a newspaper column.
Well, it’s February 14, 2012, and Arizona turns 100. In recent years, we’ve seen our share of crazy political scandals, a burgeoning population, and the bottom fall out of our housing market. We’ve also got gorgeous winters, the Grand Canyon, and franchises of all four major league sports. Life in the desert certainly is interesting. Unfortunately, I tend to take my slow-paced Arizona life for granted until my East Coast friends and family visit and remind me.
With a state capitol that ranks as the sixth largest city in the nation, Arizona has her own Book Publishers’ and Authors’ associations – and self-publishing is a common phenomenon here. I’m going to stretch a bit with these next couple of posts to offer some book marketing ideas inspired by life in Arizona. They may or may not deal specifically with books about the 48th state.
A is for astronomy. As long as you’re outside the metro areas, Arizona offers some of the clearest night skies in the world, making it a dream location for astronomers. Home to Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff), Kit Peak National Observatory, and Mt. Graham International Observatory (both near Tucson), Arizona makes a great backdrop for astronomy books. And nearby gift shops would make a great place to sell them!
B is for bolo ties. Making a claim to be the world’s largest bolo tie store, The Old West Gallery is located in Phoenix and sells all manner of Western wear. It wouldn’t hurt to ask if they’d carry your book on Western wear – or at the very least host a book signing. Visit tech-inc.com for instructions on making your own bolo tie.
C is for Colorado River. Approximately 1,450 miles long, the Colorado River runs through seven U.S. states and two Mexican states, perhaps its most famous location being its route through the Grand Canyon. Tom Martin has a new book about the river due out in May 2012: Big Water, Little Boats: Moulty Fulmer and the First Grand Canyon Dory on the Last of the Wild Colorado. With no fewer than 60 events a year taking place along the Colorado River – many of which are a big tourist draw – if I were Tom, I’d be pitching my tent and setting up shop at as many as possible.
D is for Daylight Saving Time. Arizona is unique in that we don’t recognize Daylight Saving Time. There’s no “springing forward” or “falling back” in any Arizona household. You’d think that would make things easier – but, in fact, the opposite is true, because the second we need to connect with someone outside the state, we have to keep track of not only their time zone, but whether DST is in effect or not. When I worked in New York, my friends thought I was nuts to ask what the time difference was to the West Coast right now. “It’s always 3 hours!” they’d insist. Ah, yes, but not for Arizona. I’ve long thought we should just split the difference on the half-hour and end this infernal clock-changing nonsense altogether. David Prerau has written a book about DST called Seize the Daylight. I’ hoping he schedules big events for the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.
E is for Echo Canyon. The Echo Canyon Trail and Recreation Area are located on Camelback Mountain, right in the center of Phoenix. A challenging hike, this 3.3 mile trail takes you through a lush, riparian canyon with a small creek crossing. The only – yet reverberating – complaint about this hiking trail is the paucity of parking. No matter what your book topic or where in the country you hold your signings, make sure your venue has enough accessible parking for all. You’d hate “I couldn’t find a place to park” to be the reason people didn’t attend.
F is for Four Corners. Four Corners Monument is the only place in the United States where four states (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado) meet at one point. Did you know the Frommer’s travel guide company has moved into eBooks? According to their website, “Frommer’s ShortCuts give you exactly what you need for your trip to The Four Corners Region, Arizona – and no more.” And look, ma, no Amazon!
G is for golf. Desert … golf mecca. It’s not a logical leap, so you might be surprised to know that the Phoenix area alone boasts more than 100 golf courses, several dozen of them located that sunny vacation destination known as Scottsdale. While a number of books deal specifically with Arizona golfing (like Arizona’s Greatest Golf Courses by Bill Huffman and Golf in Scottsdale by Joan Fudala), more than 300 mention it at least in passing. If you’ve got a golf book and you’re not holding signings and events at golf clubs around Arizona, you’re missing a HUGE market.
H is for haboob. A haboob is a giant wall of dust that results from a microburst. Images of the things resemble scenes from a horror movie, and they are NO fun to drive in.
The word “haboob” derives from the Arabic word habb, meaning “wind.” These walls of dust that can reach 5,000 feet high might look like an incredibly rare occurrence, but in this desert environment, the phenomenon is not all that uncommon. Stellar reviewer Cathy, of the Kittling: Books blog, worked the 2011 haboob into her weekly links roundup for July 8, 2011. Are you working current events into your blog?
I is for Intel. If you’ve worked on a computer in the last 30 years, chances are good that you’ve used an Intel product. The company builds semiconductor chips and the processors used in most personal computers. Intel’s Chandler, Ariz. site is its second largest in the world, and the 11th largest employer in Arizona. Intel has its own publishing company, Intel Press, complete with articles about various technical topics. Its website is worth a look, if only to see the kinds of books a big company puts its name on and to check out its categorization and structure.
J is for Joshua Forest Parkway. My favorite album of all time, U2’s The Joshua Tree, was named for this native Arizona plant. In 1992, the Arizona Department of Transportation designated Route 93 the Joshua Forest Parkway, which runs for 53.5 miles, from just north of Arizona State Route 71 to the tiny town of Wikieup.
According to an Arizona Highways article, Joshua trees are “reminiscent of the baobab trees made famous in [Antoine de] Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, and if your imagination is active, you might see a little blond boy emerge from the trees with a dog and a well-protected flower in hand.” If you ever find yourself needing inspiration, this is a wonderful place to visit.
K is for Ks – as in strikeouts in the Cactus League. With more than 150 baseball books published in 2011, America’s pastime is a topic for innumerable authors. Arizona’s Cactus League is the spring training home to half the MLB teams. Any baseball author – whether a Casey Award winner or not – should certainly set a goal for signings and events in bookstores near the spring training facilities, both in Arizona and in Florida.
L is for Local First Arizona. Local First Arizona is a nonprofit organization that works to strengthen local communities and economies by supporting, maintaining, and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout Arizona. Bookstore and publishing-related members of Local First Arizona include:
Poisoned Pen Mystery Bookstore It’s more than a bookstore; it’s an experience.
Bookworms Bookstore LDS Books and Supplies
Changing Hands Bookstore A community gathering place with a neighborhood bakery & cafe.
Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee Coffee, books, revolution!
Books and Blessings Bookstore and spiritual boutique
Bards Books For booklovers, by booklovers!
Five Star Publications, Inc. A resource for every author and publisher since 1985.
Student Book Center We go to great lengths to ensure students are getting the lowest price.
Antigone Books Tucson’s solar-powered bookstore.
Mostly Books Your local independent bookstore.
Whether your state has a “Local First” kind of program or not, you might want to do everything you can to establish good relationships with your local book proprietors. They need you – and you need them.
M is for Mining. Gold, silver, and other ores have been mined in Arizona for more than a century, but the state’s real claim to fame is copper. As recently as 2007, more than 60 percent of all copper mined in the United States came from Arizona. I don’t know anything about their policies, but if I’d written a recent book about mining, one of my first calls would be to the Arizona Mining Association’s PR liaison – as well as the same for all other states with mining associations.
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