Authors talk at length about their experiences writing a novel, seeking publication, getting published, etc., but few discuss their first book events.
Mine was a week ago (2/21) at the geekiest coffeehouse in Seattle, Wayward Coffeehouse.
I am continually amazed at the support of friends and acquaintances in my writing journey. One week later, and I’m still in a state of shock and completely humbled by the entire event. Yet there were definitely some learning experiences in the evening!
So without further delay, here it is–
My Top 10 Things I Learned from My 1st Book Signing.
- You will be nervous. I mean it. I’ve taught 800+ students in one room. I’ve taught 80+ teachers in one room before as well–colleagues whose opinions I cared about–but nothing prepared me for reading my own work out loud to people I wanted to impress.
- You will need to practice. I’m great at reading stories out loud–to students–but this was different. Even though I practiced, I needed to slow down a bit more and ensure people could hear the transitions from one character to another in dialogue. I’m not theatrical and thus, don’t do different voices. I’m not monotone, but I need to be more aware that the audience isn’t reading along with me.
- You will need to triple check that you have everything. Make a list. I didn’t. I thought I had everything and missed a print out page. Luckily, I had my book with me so I opened it up and continued reading. Another tip is to print your excerpts on paper. Messing with bulky books at a book reading is a pain. Or use an eBook copy.
- You will need to drink plenty of fluids. Between practice and greetings folks, by the time I got to the reading portion, my throat was parched.
- You may be awed. Seeing 30+ people in a line, all waiting to buy an autographed copy of my book was unreal. I’m used to being in the line waiting for another author.
- You will need to eat a mild meal before hand. My event was at 8pm, and we had guests in town. Beforehand, we went to Lunchbox Laboratories for dinner. This place has an amazing veggie burger, but about 50% of the time, I get food poisoning. I lucked out, but that was a gamble. On retrospect, I should’ve had something mild instead.
- You may be surprised. I had a friend fly up from Texas, which I knew about. What I didn’t know was that my best friend from 6th grade was driving up with her husband. I hadn’t seen her in 20+ years. It was quite the surprise, and it wasn’t the only one. People I didn’t think really cared about my book release showed up. People can and will surprise you.
- You will need confidence. I’m an introvert by nature, but I’m excellent at faking it in public speaking. Despite this, my stomach twisted in knots when the room was silent…until I remembered that they were supposed to be. They were listening! Be confident in your work and your audience.
- You will need to over-prepare. I had 50 people RSVP, which did not include members of the general public who may have decided to come based on event calendar listings in various media or fliers at Wayward itself. Yes, I left that evening with copies of my book left (though not that many!), but it was better for that to occur than for me to have brought 20 and run out. Because I didn’t have it at a book store, I controlled how many copies were purchased. Bookstores tend to underestimate, which I think is foolish given that they can return copies.
- You will need to be yourself. When I realized that I was missing a page, I handled it as I would anything, which is to say with fluttering comedy and general cussing. I was me. The audience laughed with me (instead of at me), and we moved past it without issue.
BONUS: Don’t break your wrist before hand! 😉
Next time will go more smoothly. I’ll be more practiced and aware. The event was amazing, but as with anything, there’s always room for improvement.
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