My special guest today is Canadian author Tracy Krauss who shares a recent experience with a book signing.
I’m still walking on air after a very successful Author Reading and Book Signing event held (March 24) at the Beaverlodge Public Library in Beaverlodge, Alberta, Canada.
(Yes, there really is a place called Beaverlodge!) There was a nice sized crowd – small enough to be intimate, but large enough to stroke my ego just a wee bit. We started the evening with me sharing a few things about myself, my journey into publication and a brief synopsis of my published work. Then I read from MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER, and ended the formal part of the session by fielding questions. I must say, the folks from Beaverlodge had some very intelligent and thought provoking questions. Afterward, there were refreshments and a book signing session.
So what makes an event like this a success? First of all, I would say planning. I really cannot take credit for this end of things, since head librarian Shelly Longson and her staff did ALL the work. The space for the reading and question and answer time was well laid out, comfortable and intimate and there was a separate area for signing and refreshments. Beautiful!
Second, there was sufficient advertising before the event. Again, Shelly did most of this, but there was enough ‘buzz’ on Facebook and through local media to bring people out. Without at least a few folks in the audience, a reading can be very awkward indeed! She also arranged for local media to attend the event, which serves as great post event publicity.
Third, (and this is where MY part of the process comes in) I did a little bit of research beforehand as to what makes a successful reading. One of the things I discovered was ‘too short’ is better than ‘too long’. The last thing you want to do is bore your audience. I chose the second half of Chapter One to read aloud, which I did after a short set up for the scene. Even if your audience asks for more, it is probably best to keep it short. Stick to your plan for the reading and don’t get sucked into ‘one more chapter’.
Introduce yourself, but keep it light. People want to know something about you before you start to read, but keep too many details from overtaking the reading portion. You can always expand on these points later during the question and answer time.
Speaking of questions, it’s a good idea to think of possible answers to the standard questions before hand. What was your inspiration for this novel? How long did it take you to write it? Which character do you identify with the most? Of course, you can’t possibly anticipate every question, but anything you can do to prepare is worthwhile.
Be authentic. I write ‘edgy inspirational’ fiction. What does this mean exactly? It means that my work has a strong Christian element. People need to know that up front so they don’t feel duped – especially in a public setting like the one I was in last night. On the other side of the coin, readers need to know that my work is considered somewhat ‘edgy’. My characters are not perfect and they find themselves in real life and sometimes questionable circumstances. One very good question came from a woman who asked if I would prefer my books be placed in the ‘Inspirational’ section or the regular stacks. I said ‘regular stacks’ because I don’t want to segregate my writing into this smaller niche. I’m pushing for less of this type of ghettoization, but perhaps this is a topic for another day!
Which brings me to the next point. Humor also goes a long way. I like to keep things light and allow the audience to laugh with me. (Not saying I’m a standup comic or anything, but just don’t take yourself too seriously. Nobody likes a snob!)
Finally, don’t apologize. For many of us, we find it difficult to ‘blow our own horn’ and this whole promotion business can be very uncomfortable, to say the least. However, keep in mind that the people who come out to see and hear you are genuinely interested in what you have to say. Confidence without arrogance goes a long way. Yes, I am a published author and I am proud of it. I feel that my writing stands up in terms of quality, content and entertainment value, so why be ashamed?
Thanks again to Shelly and the staff of the Beaverlodge Library. If you have never participated in an event like this (either as a presenter or in the audience) may I encourage you to do so. What have been your experiences at this type of promotional event?