Hi everyone and thanks for the encouragement during the trying times of the past few weeks. I am truly grateful for the community that regularly gathers on this blog.
This week, we have the pleasure of welcoming author Irene Ternier Gordon as a guest blogger. I am grateful to call Irene a long-time friend and a frequent commenter on this blog. Irene is a former teacher librarian who has authored seven books about Canadian history. She’s kind enough to give us some tips on how we can look beyond the obvious for opportunities to sell books and promote our expertise.
Look for Opportunities to Promote Your Expertise
by Irene Ternier Gordon
How many of you are aware of the Via Rail “On Board Entertainment” Program? I just learned about it last spring and was surprised to learn that it included people such as storytellers in addition to musicians. Since many Via Rail travellers are from outside of Canada, performers are expected to focus on Canadian material.
I am the author of seven non-fiction books on Canadian history specializing in the fur trade era; therefore I thought Via Rail might be interested in my telling stories from one or more of my books, which are written in the form of adventure stories. They signed me up as an historian/storyteller to do presentations based on my fur trade book and on my history of the Red River Settlement and the Battle of Seven Oaks.
Irene Ternier Gordon giving a talk on Via Rail to an eager audience
The Via Rail contract stated that I was to travel from Winnipeg to Toronto and return, presenting three talks of about ¾ of an hour each way. Although you do not get paid, presenters receive board and room on the train. Presenters are also allowed to display their books, CDs, etc. for sale, but they are not to actively promote sales of them. I sold eight copies of my books.
I made a set of posters of the illustrations and maps from my books and used them to illustrate my talks. I also handed out copies of the maps (with my business card attached) to the audience. My first talk was given in an activity area, but all of the others were given in a dome car. The audience size varied from a low of six – two of whom didn’t speak English – to a high of perhaps 25. Many seemed very interested and asked lots of questions; others didn’t seem that interested but they were polite. Audience members ranged in age from four to over 80. When I complimented the four-year-old on how good an audience member she had been, she responded that it [my talk] was like a bedtime story but it was kind of long.
The facilities were not ideal. People who were not interested in your presentation may have already been there when you arrived and you could not ask them to leave. We did make an exception for a boy about 12 who was sound asleep, sprawled across seats for three people in the activity area. I hated to wake him up, but we needed the space and his sister was just delighted to do the honours.
The contact person for the Via Rail On Board Entertainment Program can be reached at email@example.com.
I would be interested in hearing from any other writers who have participated in this program and would be happy to answer any questions from people who might be interested in applying for it. You can also check out my website at www.ireneterniergordon.ca.
Thanks to Irene for this post. How about you? Have you participated in a program such as Via Rail’s On Board Entertainment program or a similar program that helped you promote your expertise to an audience you may not otherwise have reached? Please share your stories with us. Irene has offered to field questions and respond to comments until Sept 11th when she heads off to Scotland.
Please join us back here the week of September 17th, when we’ll have a new post and a new discussion.