First-time novelists steel themselves for the painful silence that comes from being ignored. Bill’s armor didn’t prepare him for a Savannah visit that was a ticker-tape parade in every respect but the ticker-tape.
The elegant lady draped in Spanish moss was as languorous as her name and at the same time suffused with the gritty determination of the river that flowed past. Whew. Okay, we got that sentence over with. Bill and Jill celebrated their twenty-second anniversary in the William Kehoe House, one of the stops on the historic city tour. They had only to crawl through a window in their room to reach their fine verandah, which looked down on Columbia Square. They chose not to rent a car and instead spent days exploring on foot the city’s squares and tree-lined streets.
After the talk, Bill and Jill returned to their book-signing zone. Another line formed for copies of the novel. Steve Cooper, the new CIO of the Department of Homeland Security, worked his cell phone in the line, but still picked up his copy of the book. Bill’s note thanked him for taking on such a daunting job. Vendors from the show swarmed to get copies for their colleagues who had left. Three vendors picked up copies for their CEOs. Bill took satisfaction in penning a note to Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, thanking Ellison for his work on behalf of privacy. Bill had in mind a comment Ellison had once made, something along the lines of, “You don’t have any privacy. Get used to it.” The vendors had taken a liking to Bill for putting in a good word for their products that he knew and liked. One vendor said response at their booth had been lackluster until Bill explained the merits of their product—after his talk, curious officials queued up at the vendor’s booth. Bill had intended only to give the vendors fair credit for their good work. The vendors seemed instead to view this as a new partnership. One presented Bill with a leather journal signed by the vendor’s booth-people. Another gave him a pen that doubled as a laser pointer. From another came a glitzy mug. Bill’s brother John is in the bicycle industry, where such trade show gifts are called “schwag.”
For a week after the conference, Bill’s Amazon sale rank hovered
around 35,000, not materially different from the week leading up to the
conference. Bill then sent an individual email note to every attendee
from the Summit. His note informed each that a sanitized version of his
slides (absent copyright-protected images) had been posted on the Summit
web site. The note also offered Bill’s services as a speaker on
cyberterrorism and noted that forty percent discounts were available on
bulk buys of the novel. Bill also sent email notes to senior managers
in his company informing them of customers he’d briefed at the Summit.
Finally, he arranged for his company to post on the corporation’s
internal web site a news story of his success at the Summit. Probably
because of the email campaign and news story, a burst of sales lowered
Bill’s sales rank to 6,500 for several days before the rank eased
back up to 30,000. Other follow-ups included an offer (accepted) to do
another conference keynote and a number of other possible speaking engagements.
Best were notes from CIOs who read and enjoyed the book. One posted a
from the book on his personal web site. Overall, a fine experience.