Are you wondering what to expect from your first event as an Author? I recently published my first book, LIGHT FROM A DARK NIGHT, and was invited to participate in a local author day event.
Prior to the big day I read a lot of articles and blogs on the subject. I found a lot of advice on book pricing and how to engage people as they passed by. Most articles were informative but they left out something very important.
HOT TIP: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!
Here’s my list of 10 things I was not prepared for and a hot tip for each one.
10. I did not expect to enjoy the other authors and their books.
I wondered how many other authors would be there but honestly didn’t give them much thought beyond that. Mainly because I was focused on getting things ready for my table and making sure the day would run smoothly at home.
Before my table was even set up we began talking to other authors. Those who’d arrived ahead of me were already walking around introducing themselves. We made friends and laughed a lot.
HOT TIP: EXPECT TO GET TO KNOW THOSE WHO HAVE TABLES NEAR YOU.
9. I did not expect to purchase books from other authors.
We bought several books in various genres and I found myself very interested in the passion each author had for what they’d written. Each of them seemed genuinely touched in the interest paid to their work.
HOT TIP: EXPECT TO PURCHASE BOOKS YOU HAD NO IDEA EXISTED BEFORE. (BRING EXTRA MONEY!)
8. I did not expect food would not be necessary.
My 11 year old daughter was my companion at our table for the day. I packed us a lunch because I knew she would be hungry and we could not leave the venue. What I did not expect was the enjoyment of communicating would be “food” enough for me. I did not feel hungry at all until a couple hours after my event.
HOT TIP: DO BRING WATER AND FOOD BUT EXPECT NOT TO EAT TOO MUCH AT YOUR EVENT. EXCITEMENT TRUMPS HUNGER.
7. I did not expect an emotional connection would occur between my topic of adoption and those stopping by the table.
Much of what we do as writers is solitary. While I can write with others around (namely my children) I don’t generally write with a group of people. I share some of my book ideas with a trusted friend who has become my writing “soul mate”. This friend is encouraging and will prompt me from time to time but she is not interested in doing what I do. She is truly a non-competitive sounding board.
Other than this friend I was pretty much alone with my work for three years. I was totally not prepared for an emotional reaction to my subject matter of adoption and myself as the story teller with potential readers. This is something we dream of while writing: to connect with those we are writing to.
HOT TIP: UNTIL YOU PUBLISH YOUR BOOK AND BEGIN COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR READERS YOU WILL HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH OF AN IMPACT YOUR BOOK WILL MAKE.
6. I did not expect the credibility Amazon gives authors.
I did not read this tip in any blog before my event. I had the idea to print my Amazon.com reviews which have all been 5 star. Every person passing my table whether they stopped to talk to me or not read those reviews. I heard them comment as they walked by, “Oh, look Amazon reviews”. These reviews gave me instant credibility.
HOT TIP: AMAZON IS POWERFUL AND A VERY USEFUL MARKETING TOOL. PRINT YOUR TOP 5 STAR REVIEWS AND PLACE PROMINENTLY ON YOUR TABLE.
5. I did not expect my writing journey to be of much interest to potential readers.
I did not read this tip on any blog site either but it made a big difference at my table. I brought along my first, second, and third (final version) book proofs. My initial cover design was very different than the final version and there was story behind this. They could also see how much I expanded chapters which made the final version of the book much thicker than the first proof.
Doing this gives you extra talking points whether they buy a book or not. Some people are just interested in the process behind things.
HOT TIP: BRING YOUR FIRST PROOFS! LET POTENTIAL AUTHORS AND CUSTOMERS SEE HOW MUCH EDITS AND SCRIBBLING THERE IS TO PROOFING AND EXPANDING YOUR BOOK BEFORE IT’S COMPLETE.
4. I did not expect to be tongue tied when trying to explain my book to potential buyers.
Every day for three years I thought about my book. I read it and re-read it. I edited, added and deleted words, sentences, paragraphs and even chapters. I dreamt of the day LIGHT FROM A DARK NIGHT would be published and of sitting behind a table autographing it. If anyone knows my book it’s me- right?
Well yes of course this is true. But when you have to quickly relay the subject of your book to others in one sentence – two at the most- this can be tricky. Especially if like me you feel the need to tailor this statement based on the person on the other side of the table. To be your most confident self I suggest being prepared with two different statements about your book so you won’t feel like a broken record saying the same thing over and over.
HOT TIP: PREPARE A ONE OR TWO SENTENCE EXPLANATION OF YOUR BOOK AHEAD OF TIME. PRACTICE SAYING IT IN THE MIRROR IF YOU WANT TO.
3. I was not prepared to write personal statements in the books I signed.
Many of the blogs written about signing books tell you to come up with your “signature” line which you’ll write in every book you sign. I came up with mine and thought it quite good until… I met two special ladies. As I began writing my signature line in one of the books I noticed my buyer tearing up. This line meant something to her and it was special. However, as I began signing the next book I felt compelled to write something else based on our conversation. What I wrote was meaningful to her and she hugged me.
Be as personal as you can. In this case two different women bought the same book but for different reasons. While you may not be able to tailor make every autograph you certainly can for those whom you spend some time talking to. Go with your inner gut.
HOT TIP: IF YOU SPEND TIME TALKING TO A BUYER AT YOUR BOOK SIGNING GO THE EXTRA STEP AND MAKE YOUR AUTOGRAPH SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR THEM.
2. I did not expect to have the best day of my life.
Okay as a qualifier this was the best day of my life aside from my wedding day and the births of our children. I did not know what to expect at my first author event but all of the above unexpected things turned my day into something really special. Author events, book signings and sales are nothing without other people. Family, friends and new found friends make all the difference in our lives.
I was not prepared to be so touched by friends who made a huge effort to show me support. It’s like the feeling we have at the funeral of a loved one. We look back over the day and are so thankful for those who showed up. We always remember those faces with fondness. And the best part of a book signing is no one has to die to make it great!
HOT TIP: BE PREPARED TO HAVE THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. WHETHER YOU HAVE A HUGE SALES DAY OR NOT LOOK BACK AND REMEMBER WHO MADE IT A GREAT DAY FOR YOU.
Number 1: I did not expect the impact an Author Day would have on my children.
Upon arriving home from the event my daughter got out her computer and began researching page count for children’s books. She was inspired by the other authors who had books for sale. Being around other writers awakened something in her and she saw firsthand how joyful it can be to have a dream of the heart fulfilled.
The next thing she did that night was create her own website. At the end of the night she had a really good start to her site. I was blown away by what she wrote in the “about me” section:
“Writing is my passion and my hobby. However, I am only an eleven year old, I am on my way to publishing my first children’s book. Through my process and journey of writing I began to realize how important the words “never give up”, “dream big”, and “encourage others to do the same” is so important in life if you want to succeed. I hope I can help your dreams become true by answering any questions or just encouraging people to never give up on their dream. God has a plan for us all weather we know it or not.”
Look past the grammar and spelling errors and you may see something special. The theme of my book is to “never give up on your dreams” which she heard me say many times throughout the day. It takes a lot to begin writing a book and to finish. At the author event she connected the words of never giving up with me – her mom. The greatest thing I didn’t expect was for a young girl to be influenced for life because of one day with her mom. Powerful stuff!
HOT TIP: BEING YOU – THE ONE WHO BEGAN AND FINISHED THE DREAM OF PUBLISHING A BOOK WILL INSPIRE THOSE AROUND YOU IN WAYS YOU NEVER EXPECTED!
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