Most of our work as authors occurs in solitude, typing at a keyboard, jotting down notes, or working through editorial suggestions. It’s a bit of a departure from our “habitat,” then, when we’re asked to appear in public. Here are my survival skills for those occasions.
- Lower your expectations. As a debut author, your opportunities to speak in front of large crowds will probably be few and far between. Maybe you’ll attract a sizable audience at a conference or at your own launch party. But chances are that the majority of your book-related events will be for a much smaller crowd. Half a dozen book club members, perhaps, or a handful of bookstore patrons. It’s important to remember that small events can still be successful. Connecting with readers and letting them see that there’s a human being behind the book, has value. If readers really had a chance to talk with you and learn about your book, chances are they are more likely to tell someone else about it.
- Come caffeinated. Let’s face it. Standing in front of a group of people you don’t know and saying something intelligent takes energy. And if, like me, if you’ve worked a day job and wrangled a 2-year-old before arriving at your book event, you’ll probably be drained. I find that sipping a cup of coffee during my drive to the event helps give me the boost of enthusiasm I need.
- BYO Swag. These days, many publishers don’t have the budget to produce posters, bookmarks, buttons, or other freebies for a debut novel. Most authors I know make their own. Many Walgreens stores have a great same-day poster service, and they often have coupons for buy-one-get-one. Sites like VistaPrint often run great promotions for bookmarks or postcards in bulk. A small budget for printed materials can go a long way in advertising your event or having swag to give to attendees.