Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Enjoy Your Author Event

Today I'll be speaking at a local library in Salt Lake, to the Senior's Group. I get 45 minutes to talk about "how I wrote my books, Farm Girl, my next book, and tips for any of them who might want to write a personal and family history."

Sounds like fun, right? Well, it isn't UNLESS I go with my own agenda which is: "tell stories, have fun, make friends, tell stories, talk about writing, give tips on writing from life, tell stories, give tips on writing one's history, tell stories."

End with a question- answer session. Done and done. Go home and change back into  pajamas work clothes.

Here's what I DO NOT want to do: "worry about book sales, try to convince people to buy my books, think about who will buy my books, wonder why no one wants to buy my books, agonize over the lack of sales at this or any other event."

There you have my very short list on how to enjoy your author event. You notice I didn't say "how to have a successful author event." Because that involves selling books, and that means I put too much pressure on myself, and that means misery and failure instead of enjoyment and avoidance of an entire pan of fudge brownies.

Oh, one more thing-- Include a drawing for a free book. Each person in attendance writes their name and email address on a card and drops it in a basket. The winner gets a free copy of your book, and you go home with everyone's email addresses for future promotion. But be sure and tell them you will use their information only to contact them about future events, or when your next book is available. (I have yet to do this. But I keep thinking about doing it, as it's a really good idea.)

 Please feel free to add your own excellent tips in the comments-- either from your experience at presenting or attending such events. (I'm a lost cause, but your good ideas might help someone else.)

33 comments:

  1. Just wish I could be there to hear your talk and give you support. Have fun.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  2. Oh gosh, I wish I could give you some advice! But no, no, I'd be worse than you. I wish I could attend!

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  3. Lots of luck Karen -- do the drawing thing! It's a great idea.

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  4. I haven't had an author event yet (sounds nervewracking) but I think your plan to focus on the PROCESS (telling stories, enjoying it) instead of the OUTCOME (selling books) is a sound one for managing your anxiety!

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  5. I like your approach and think it's a good one. I'd be more prone to buy a book from someone I enjoyed listening to..rather than someone who tried to hard-sell me. Good luck and have fun!

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  6. Great advice, Karen! I will definitely keep it in mind.

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  7. The free drawing is a great idea!
    That's great advice. I think people can tell if all you care about is selling your book vs just enjoying being there.

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  8. Perfect advice! I love the drawing for a free book idea--and I'm sure your audience will too. :)

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  9. From one lost cause to another, good luck, dear friend. This made me laugh out loud. I don't do these events any more because of everything you wrote about here.
    Karen

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  10. You know I've been to many author events and find the kids really are there to learn about the characters in the book, to get closer to them, get secret info on them that no one else has. FWIW, hope it's helpful.

    Have fun.

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  11. Oh, great advice. Thanks for the tips. I have a follow-up question though for future reference - is the QandA included in the 45 minute presentation or do you do that after the 45 minutes to make a full hour? Just wondering.

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  12. Karen, "from one lost cause to another" LOL! You really do get me don't you? Been there done that, right?

    PaulaKayMac, that's an awesome suggestion. I'll have to remember that one!

    Anne, I'm not sure but I'm planning on around 30 minutes and then take questions. Better to go shorter than longer.

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  13. We all want to sell books, but life is too short not to have fun doing it. When you have fun, it extends to your audience, and they, in turn, will be more willing to part with their hard-earned cash. You're on the right track.

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  14. It is always about personality. If the person doing the talk was inspiring then I presume the book will be too. That is when I'd buy it. I wouldn't care if they'd been talking about life, music or the price of food in the supermarkets these days.

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  15. I like the drawing idea; people always like to win things. I wish I could go and hear you speak! Any chance you'll be doing any book talks in Chicago anytime soon? :)

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  16. You sound like the kind of author I would feel really comfortable with at an event - friendly, approachable and not pushy. I don't anyone likes to be sold to! Have a great time, Karen.

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  17. Great advice - love the draw idea! :)

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  18. I love the free book giveaway idea! Practical and fun! Oh but you have to enjoy yourself first and foremost too.

    I hope it goes well - of course it will!!

    Take care
    x

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  19. I think you have the right attitude! I mean, we're writers, not market specialists and our personal marketing can only do so much and go so far. Just going to these events and being yourself is really the best you can do!

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  20. Your last idea is a really good idea. Have a draw. I think I would need your list of things to make me happy because doing a library thing would be difficult. Thank you for sharing this with us still in our "work clothes".

    CD

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  21. I hope you enjoy your author event.

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  22. I've not done an author event yet, so I'll just rely on your wonderful advice.

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  23. A refreshing take on an author event. Why shouldn't it be the way you want it?

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  24. Very helpful post! If I ever do get published and do an author event, this is good to keep in mind. Good luck at yours!

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  25. I'd be a basket case! It sounds to me like you have the perfect attitude about it all. I hope it was a fun event for you!

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  26. It sounds like you have a good method. My only advice is get those e-mail out to the addresses you've collected! I'll keep these tips in mind if/when I do an author event.

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  27. I hope it went well for you and that you enjoyed yourself. :)

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  28. Karen you are gas. You are the most reluctant sales person ever! First point is that your books are great - dont be shy about shouting about them and encouraging people to buy them After all buying a book is hardly a huge purchase in monetary terms!

    But I do love your advice about doing it your way.. Because for me (as an attendee at such events) its all about connecting with your audience and I am sure you are great at that!

    So enjoy and I hope YOU SELL LOADS! Lol

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  29. Barbara, Hahaha yes I AM the most reluctant sales person ever! Course it helped this time that this was an event where books weren't being sold, it was more of a community service type thing. So no real pressure.

    And yes it was fun and I did enjoy!

    Did I do the card/email idea? No, of course not. Lost cause indeed. I keep thinking of it and then don't do it for various reasons like a) I forget b) I don't have a suitable basket for passing around c) I'm taking too much stuff already d) I figure I'll just lose the email addresses anyway and then people will wonder why they never hear about my next book.

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  30. I think you're on the right track, not getting wrapped up in the sales. If people have fun, they will buy your book.

    I like the drawing idea. I think most people assume that puts them on your mailing list, but it's always a good idea to let them know up front.

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  31. Most excellent timing for me to read this post! I have an author event next week, and I'm SO happy to hear you say that it's okay to go with your own agenda and to let go any stress about sales. This whole promotion business for me has been all about doing what is enjoyable to me, and what I think will be enjoyable for my readers. Anything that is meant to be for the book will flow from there, right?

    For me what's fun is the music, the fashion, the craziness of the 1980s (the era of my book) so I'm throwing an 80s party! I swear, I'm more excited about the playlist I'm making and seeing what people show up wearing more than anything. So thanks for giving me "permission" to just go with it and not worry about the bottom line.

    But like you, I ALWAYS forget to do what I can at the events to get e-mails, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc. I think what I'm going to do is a reverse of your business card idea - I'm going to give them MY card w/ website & facebook page and hope, hope, hope that they'll have enough fun that night to want some more.

    Thanks so much for writing this!

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  32. You sound as if you have it all mapped out, enjoy and have fun.

    My friend ordered bookmarks and bits from Vista.com and gave them out. She got a few sales at Christmas because of them, and they were cheap to give away.

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