Using “Out-of-the-Box” Creativity for Big Debut Win

It’s crucial for debut authors to make personal connections with their target audience to build buzz for that first release. Historical novelist Jeffrey Stayton wanted to make as many connections as possible; luckily he had an RV, a taste for adventure and willingness to hit the road! 

We knew a book tour would be the perfect way for Jeff to build a following for his gorgeous and gritty Civil War novel This Side of the River. An epic book deserves an epic tour! 

Books Forward designed a 20-stop book tour at venues and festivals across the country. The tour included Southern mega-fests like the Southern Independent Booksellers Association tradeshow and the venerable Southern Festival of Books, as well as plenty of independent bookstores. We also arranged for Jeff to speak at Civil War reenactment festivals and museums–the perfect place to connect with history buffs, who were warmly receptive to Jeff and his new novel.

As a former indie bookseller himself, Jeff knew the power of bookstores and also wanted to celebrate his fellow book community leaders. We set up a “Cheer for the Bookstore!” $250 Scholarship Contest, where indie bookstores nationwide could enter to win by telling us how they would benefit from the money. One of the highlights of the tour for Jeff was getting to stop in the winning stores and meet the booksellers in person! And we appreciated how Shelf Awareness celebrated Jeff’s goodwill.

Jeff also participated in unique promotions such as SIBA’s TRIO Project, which paired him with a musician and artist who each created an original song and piece of art based on his novel. The TRIO art installation was featured prominently at the tradeshow, before touring through the Southern states.

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