Lou Ellen Watts’ adventures promoting her book Sleeping in Dixie’s Feather Bed: Growing Up White in the Segregated South
Released October 2018.
Part 1 – October –December
My book, Sleeping in Dixie’s Feather Bed: Growing Up White in the Segregated South, had a successful launch at the Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin, Indiana last October. That was just the beginning. It was time to promote my message.
The very first place that I signed up for was at a very small Christian bookstore. I thought that this would be a good place for my initial talk. Everyone was very helpful and thoughtful but the traffic was not great. It was “good practice.”
National Small Business Night has always been very popular across the country, so I contacted the bookstore in my hometown. It is a small store and the owner put me in a corner at a small table next to the door. There was very little room to display posters or other items, but I was determined to make a good appearance. About 3:00 people started pouring in…people with children, older people, college people, single people, and groups of people. So, many people stopped to ask about the book and some eventually bought one. It was exciting to discuss the news events of the day that connected to my view of equality expressed in the book.
I was invited to participate in a Holiday Shopping event at the fair ground in Columbus, IN. Since the president of one of my writing groups organized it, I wanted to attend. I had been told to “think outside the box” and sell at Farmers Markets and craft shows, so my husband and I lugged books and other things to go over the black table cloth into one of the closed barns. There were about 6 authors there and maybe 20 crafters. My table was set up next to one which displayed homemade jewelry. CBD oil was set up in a table in back of me and on the other side of me was a lady selling homemade cookies. Since I am a very outgoing person I wandered around during slack time and talked with other authors. Some were very friendly but some were close -mouthed. I have been uncertain how Hoosiers would react to the book about my story of emerging into tolerance. Most of the buyers were more interested in the crafts rather than books, but several people were fascinated by my book. One lady bought 3 and wanted to know if the book was on Amazon. It wasn’t a very successful day in selling but I ate a lot of good homemade cookies, bought a gaudy bead necklace, and learned how CBD oil would be good for my bulldog.
One of the organizations that I belong to is the Daughters of the American Revolution. I was on the program at the DAR to give a talk about the book at the November meeting. The program chairman arranged for me to speak at the local library and invite the public. I arrived at 1:00 and found the room was not set up so my husband and I moved the chairs in an orderly way and looked for a podium to stand behind. There was none. At 1:30 12 members of my organization and one guest were seated and ready for my talk. Since I knew all of members, I decided to have all of them gather around in a semi-circle. This informal setting was most beneficial in that most of the audience felt connected and discussed the meaning of the book: how I learned to be more broad-minded about race and ethnicity, based on my own personal childhood. Everyone purchased a book and the one guest took my card and wanted to know if I would speak at a large Johnson County event the following year in September. I deemed the outcome of this meeting as successful.
I have been a member of Central Indiana Writers Association for many years and attend most of its meetings and events. Each year the group helps host an event at Garfield Park in Indianapolis. This year our program chairman was not able to sit at a table at the event and needed a volunteer to take her place. Of course, I volunteered. The other member and I set up a table with brochures and flyers advertising our organization. We also put out books by authors of the writers group, including mine. It was nice that the table was at the door, where people would stop and ask for directions. When they did that, we pointed out the brochures and books and I handed out my business cards and bookmarks and discussed my book. Several ladies gave me their cards and wanted to know if I would be interested in speaking to their organization. One never knows how things really do work out. And the word about the book was getting around and a good many had been sold.
Probably most important were conversations about how we as people learn attitudes on race: my own growing-up in three states, automatically picking up Jim Crow racial attitudes and stereotypes and being jolted out of my feather bed shell into new perspectives, became the taking-off point for conversations.
More to come….
Lou Ellen Watts’ book is available from Hawthorne. Click back to purchase it.