2 Simple Keys to Survive a Book Event

bull's eyeAre you shy? Are you an introvert? If so, you understand the horror that is public speaking. As a child you pretended to study the book on your desk so the teacher wouldn’t call on you in class (even though you already knew the answer). You stammered or stuttered or sweated your way through the dreaded oral presentation – and you still do.

I am one of those writers who would happily spend my days holed up in my dark, cozy cave, stories streaming from my fingers onto the keyboard, only coming out for chocolate and Mountain Dew. That’s my idea of a perfect writing life. No public speaking for me. No selling myself. But if a writer’s goal is to be published, she must satisfy some requirements and re-enter the light every now and then.

One of those requirements is a book event – in the case of my first one of a few weeks ago, that meant a discussion, a reading, and a book signing. (Just so you know, merely thinking of doing another one makes my hands shake and my stomach turn.)

I had done my research and knew how to prepare for the practical aspects of it: make notes and study what to say, bake goodies to share (brownies and cake), gather pens (for signing, just in case), as well as a bottle of water, bookmarks and business cards. I even showered and put on clean clothes – living in a cave can leave one dusty and rumpled.

But how does a shy, introverted cave-dwelling writer stand up in front of a group of strangers and sell herself and her book? The answer is…she doesn’t!

In my search for peace in this process, for a way to make it through the horror, I discovered two simple keys to survive a book event:

1.  Don’t make it about yourself: Make it about the audience.

If you were in the audience, what would you want to know about a book and its author? Keep this in mind as you plan the talk.

  • Include a brief introduction about yourself, where you’re from, how or why you started on your writing journey. The audience is made up of regular people (just like you, right?) and they want to identify with you.
  • Talk about why you wrote this particular book. Out of all the stories you could have written, why did this one grab hold of you and not let go? Don’t be afraid to show your passion for the project.
  • Many readers are also writers or they aspire to be. Explain what your process was like as you wrote this book – your day-to-day routine, research, the cycle of editing, your challenges and victories, how you put it all together. (My audience was especially interested in the fact that I color-coded the chapter outline of This New Mountain, cut it in sections, and laid the pieces out on the floor to decide what chapters went where.)
  • In choosing what to read, what excerpt most exemplifies your writing but would also most hold the audience’s attention? Whatever you decide, keep it short.

2.  Don’t make it about selling your book: It’s as simple as that.

  • Selling a book would be great, but focusing on that could turn you into one of those sleazy car salesmen. You know, the ones with the fake smiles who circle round and round like vultures. Don’t go there, don’t even try – giving yourself permission to let go of this is enough to make a shy introvert dance in the streets (not really).

If I were to summarize what I learned from my first book event, it would be to respect your audience. Two simple keys helped shift my focus from myself to those who really mattered – the people who took the time out of their day to drive across town to hear an unknown author speak. And that made all the difference in my ability to handle the situation.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with public speaking. What is your advice to get past the “horror” of it all?

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Book Event for This New Mountain

I’d like to invite you to a book event taking place tomorrow, June 13, at Bookworks in Albuquerque at 7:00 pm.

TNMcoversPrivate investigator AJ Jackson and I will discuss her memoir This New Mountain. I’ll be reading from the book and AJ will answer all those questions you’ve always wanted to ask a private eye. There will be cake and some nifty new bookmarks to take home…so come on by and say hi.

We hope to see you there!

Lots of Breaking News

We just received news that This New Mountain, a memoir of AJ Jackson, was chosen as a finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the biography category. Winners will be announced on November 16, 2012 at the 6th Annual Awards Banquet to be held in Albuquerque. We’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Rhythm of My Heart by Frances Fanning (another book released by our publisher, Casa de Snapdragon Publishing) was also chosen as a finalist – in the first book category.

Thank you Casa de Snapdragon for your hard work, and for all you do, for your authors.

Today, September 28, 2012:

If you get a chance, come on by and say “hey!” to AJ and I at our book signing for This New Mountain. We’ll be at Hastings Books on the southeast corner of Lomas and Juan Tabo from 5:00-8:00 pm.

Next Signing:

October 19, 2012 • 5:00-8:00 pm • Hastings Books, 6001 Lomas Blvd NE (Lomas/San Pedro store, 505-266-1363)

Coming Up in January, 2013:

  • A book signing at Moby Dickens Bookshop in Taos
  • A book event at Bookworks in Albuquerque

Hope to see you soon.

Our First Book Signing

l to r: AJ, Cate, and Janet Brennan (Managing Editor at Casa de Snapdragon Publishing)

We had our first book signing for This New Mountain on Friday, August 24th. It was great to have so many friends and family come by to support us. Some well-wishers bought books for themselves or as gifts for others, some came to have their previously purchased books signed, while others just dropped by to say hi and chat. Thank you to all who came and cheered us on – you helped the hours fly by and chased away our nervousness with your friendly faces.

In case anyone missed this book signing, we’re scheduled for another one on Friday, September 28th from 5:00-8:00 pm at the Hastings on Juan Tabo (southeast corner of Lomas and Juan Tabo). Hope to see you there next month.

Thanks again!

Breaking News: Book Signings

The first book signings for This New Mountain have been scheduled in Albuquerque:

  • August 24, 2012 • 5-8:00 pm • Hastings Books (Wyoming store, 505-299-7750)
  • September 28, 2012 • 5-8:00 pm • Hastings Books (Juan Tabo store, 505-296-6107)

If you’ve already bought the book (thank you!) but haven’t had it signed yet, come on by — AJ and I will take care of it for you. And if you’re in the neighborhood and just want to stop by and say hi, we’d love to chat.

Hope to see you there.