Monday, April 4, 2016

Spring Cleaning, i.e. Dusting Off the Author Props

It's spring cleaning time! No. Not what you're thinking. I'm truly no Suzy Homemaker, so the thrill of pulling out the sweeper, duster, polish, cleaners, sponges ... Yuk. Not even a hint of excitement there. Instead, I will gather my books, bookmarks, posters, book stands, fliers, sign-up sheets, my notes, and all author swag ... oh, and my roll-away suitcase to put said items into thus making it easy to transport the whole thing to my ... drum roll please ... AUTHOR EVENTS! Yes indeedy! I'm giddy just thinking about it. 

Spring is my time, my venue, the beginning of my yearly trek. Time to roll out the carpet and send my book babies out into the world of wonderful readers. I've come out of winter hibernation, yawning, sleepy eyed, and grumpy, but now I'm fully alert! 

So, ahem, I'd humbly like to share what experience has given me with regard to those glorious opportunities when authors may present their work, share their experiences in writing, in publishing, and a whole bunch of stuff readers want to know. It's not so hard really. Frightening? Yeah, it can be. Many writers are shy creatures. We hide behind our stories, or in them *grin*. It's much easier dealing with our characters, the ones we like to think we control -- what they do, say, feel. Oh, and they don't talk back! Well, most of the time. But it's not so hard. Discouraging? Well, yeah. It can be that, too. You may end up with only a couple visitors. Still, you talk to them, even if only one shows up! It's not so hard. In fact, it can be the best experience ever. Sharing what you love, talking about it to people who are truly interested, that's like the joy of Christmas, New Years, Easter, Fourth of July and all holidays put together! 

Now is the point when I say what works for me may work for you. Or not. Everyone is different. It's my nickle, so here goes:

*Think of what you'd like to talk about, (include a brief bio; readers love to know you as a regular person). Library signings give you this opportunity more so than at retail venues like bookstores and coffee shops or at multi-author events. In preparing for this, I might practice in front of the mirror. Yeah, I know, rather silly, but it helps me. Also, I try to list some possible questions people may ask. Here are a few:

    --- What inspired you to start writing?
    --- How did you come up with the idea for this book?
    --- Do you base your characters on any people in your life?
    --- How many books have you written?
    --- How do you feel about self-publishing vs. traditional?
    --- Do you have a favorite author?
    --- What are you writing now?

*And ALWAYS set aside time for guests to ask those questions.

*IF no one asks, here's where you say, "One question I often get asked is _______." And then answer it. (Classic teaching strategy I used in the classroom. It works great to kill the silence.)

*OR turn the tables on them and ask your guests questions. Who's your favorite author? Do any of you write or plan to pursue publishing a book or story? Just a couple examples.

*Consider reading a passage from your book, if there's time. (Again, this caters to library signings.) But please keep it short -- five minutes works for me. You don't want to see the guests' eyes glaze over, right? 

*Bring dollar bills. If you plan to sell your books and if people pay cash, you may need change.

*Remember to thank everyone for coming!

*Oh, and arrive early. You want to set up your space with all the pretty books, bookmarks, posters, book stands, fliers, sign-up sheets, author swag ... Yeah, you got this! Now, rock on, wonderful authors, and dig into your spring cleaning!

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