Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ten Tips for a Successful Author Appearance

Deb Vanasse at book festival

Once your book has launched, how do you make sure it continues to get noticed? One way is to make author appearances. I’ve not actually kept count, but my guess is that I’ve made over a hundred.

Here, ten tips for a successful author appearance:

·         If you’re going to solicit opportunities for appearances, make sure you have a specific program to offer, one that dovetails nicely with the goals and audience of the venue.
·         Be clear about the length of your program and what it will entail. Attention spans are short. In terms of audience satisfaction, less is oftentimes more.
·         If possible, coordinate with a single contact person at the venue. Ask about anticipated audience numbers and demographics. Make any equipment needs clear. For groups of larger than thirty, I generally ask for a microphone.
·         Program fees will vary with the venue and the extent to which the author is known. If there’s an opportunity to have your books available for sale, that may compensate for there being no program fee.
·         If you’re bringing books for sale, make sure to give the coordinator a list of titles and prices in advance. You might also ask about preparing a flyer that can be circulated in advance—especially effective for school programs.
·         Ask the program coordinator about how the program will be promoted. Using social media, piggyback your own promotional efforts onto theirs.
·         If you’re not entirely familiar with your program, rehearse beforehand. If reading is involved, your practice should include making eye contact with the audience.
·         Public speaking is one of the top all-time fears. Fear conquering tricks include looking slightly above the faces instead of directly at them. Engaging the audience with gestures and a small amount of movement across the stage can also help to put you at ease. If you’re overly nervous, join Toastmasters so you can practice speaking with confidence.
·         If sales are allowed, don’t hawk your books. Mention them no more than twice, at the beginning and end of the program. Greet people from your sales table, but don’t accost them. And don’t haul multiple boxes of books into the venue. For all but the most popular authors, what you can carry yourself, in a single load, is probably plenty. You can always keep an extra box in the car in case you run low.
·         Bring business cards, bookmarks, postcards—anything to help the audience remember who you are. If appropriate for the audience, provide an opportunity to sign up for your e-newsletter.