Friday, June 17, 2016

Sharing the Author Experience

This week I had the pleasure of attending Dorothea Benton Frank's speaking and signing sponsored by one of our indie bookstores, Watermark Books. Approximately fifty people attended, mostly women. Drinks were available for purchase and it was hosted at an outside venue called Abode, a venue I've never been to before. Brightly colored sunglasses were given to the first dozen to come in the door, and photos were taken of us with them on. When Dottie came in she went up and down the aisles and greated many of us, hugging a few she remembered from previous encounters or friends from way back. Instead of telling us about her newest book "All Summer Long," she shared some of the quirky experiences she has had on her current six-week book tour, followed by answering our many questions. She was funny, gracious and delightful and with seventeen novels worth of experience she had a lot to share.

What did I learn from this experience? 

  • Be your true self in front of an audience. People will recognize ingenuous author behavior. And if you're a little nervous they will understand.
  • Talk about what the readers want to hear. Ask them.
  • "Listen" to questions and answer the best you can. If you don't know, be honest.
  • Dare to be human and laugh at your own mistakes or foibles. We all have them, you know. 
  • Smile. People will smile back and feel special.
  • Laugh when things are funny, but never at someone else's expense.
  • Make eye contact with various audience members all around the room. Again, this makes the audience members feel special.
  • Ask questions of the readers, too. What was your favorite part? Who was your favorite character? etc. 
  • Relax. Reminise. Be relatable. 
  • Share a little bit of yourself. The names of authors you enjoy, your favorite books growing up. 
  • Be entertaining. If the audience enjoys your stories and discussion they will no doubt enjoy your book. 
  • Network. There are other authors, book buyers and sellers in the audience. They are readers, too. Be enthusiastic and enjoy yourself.
I'm going to try and use all of these the next time I'm talking to a group and I hope they come in handy for you.

Write on, my friends.

Bonnie (BD) Tharp is an award-winning author of women's fiction for FEISTY FAMILY VALUES and PATCHWORK FAMILY.  Also, the author of Kindle ebook short stories: THE CROSSROADS & EARL DIVINE.

I have a new Young Adult manuscript ready for an agent or publisher, whichever comes first. Wish me luck!


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Bonnie,

That all seems like excellent advice. It's wonderful when there are local bookstores that encourage authors to speak. Writing is such a solitary occupation. We all need to interact with readers and network with other writers.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Hi Jacqui. Indeed networking with authors and readers is a critical component to success as an author. Thanks for the comment. Have a great weekend. ~Bonnie

Susan Oleksiw said...

I'm late to the post (no Internet for a while) but wanted to say how much I appreciate the reminders of how to be in front of an audience. Few of us find it easy to stand up and talk to a group of strangers, so your points will help a lot. Even after years of doing this, i'm glad to have more advice and suggestions.