Tomorrow I’m off to Staten Island, NY – my old hometown – for the #TNTNYC2022 event. It’s my first time at this event and from what I’ve been reading and viewing online and on FB, it’s a raucous, fun, and busy few days.
After doing so many booksignings and author events over the years, I’ve seen a lot of varying behaviors from authors that sometimes make me cringe, sometimes make me smile, and sometimes allows me to learn from.
Case in point. This is an event where the author is promoting herself and her books. In layman’s terms – sales! You want people to discover you as an author and, hopefully, buy your book, love it, tell all their friends to get it too, and then preorder all your upcoming ones and read all your backlist ones.
That’s the goal.
To do that the author has to be engaging, willing to step out of her comfort zone to meet new people, and basically, put herself “out there.”
SInce writing is, for the most part, a solitary endeavor, many authors are not really “people” people. I’ve frequently seen authors at signings sit behind their tables, looking down at their phones, or gazing about at the other tables, readers, etc, never making eye contact or even smiling at people walking by their own table. They look uncomfortable, anxious, and – in my opinion – rude. Like they don’t have the wherewithal to be there, be present, and engage.
How do you expect to sell books? Granted, some writers are bestselling authors and people already know their name and come to these kinds of events simply to meet them and get a signed copy of the lastest book. Yippie for them.
I’m not that author.
Seven years in and I’m still building my brand, my writing reputation, and my readership, so I have to do whatever it takes for that to happen.
That includes being the first to talk to someone passing by my table, saying good morning, or how are you doing? What do you like to read? Nine times out of ten the person doesn’t read what I write, but at least I’ve made the effort to find out about her. Maybe her mom reads my kinds of books and that sparks the idea to buy one for her as a present.
Since Covid hit people have tended to hermit themselves – understandable, right? Prior to the pandemic I spent all my days home alone writing, never seeing people on a daily or even weekly basis, and working at my craft. I was one of those writers who had no difficulty with being quarantined, LOL, since I was a hermit anyway. I wrote a lot. A LOT. But when the restrictions were lifted I needed to sell those books and events like TNTNYC are the perfect venue to do so.
So I stepped out of my house, put on my big-girl author panties and engaged with people I don’t know inorder to sell my books.
Is it hard? Hell yeah. I’d rather be home in my jammies with my glasses on and no makeup on my face, then dressed and putting the PEGGY on for the public. But I do it, despite the nerves bounding inside me.
I am not a natural born salesperson. I would never have been hired by a circus to be the barker, the out-front man to lure people in. What I do have a gift for is making people laugh, so I use that wierd sense of humor to pull people in, make them feel comfortable talking to me about any topic, and then hoping they will want to read one of my books after that.
If you are a reader/book buyer at these kinds of events you are looking for several things:
~new authors to read/meet/and get to know
You are not looking for sullen or sad looking authors to talk to or try to bring out of their shell.
On the other hand, readers also don’t want an author to hound them. I never outright say BUY MY BOOK! As I’ve said, I’ll ask what they read, then either say, I write that or I don’t. And then I take it a step further and ask if they know anyone who reads the kinds of books I write – steamy romcoms, romantic suspense, smalltown, friends to lovers, and sometimes sweet romances. That’s a big list. And usually they discover that they do, indeed, read something like I write.
It’s all in the pitch, the sale, and the engagement.
Oh, and the visuals. This is my standup banner that I bring with me. Vibrant color and my brand. It’s an eyecatcher to be sure.
Another thing I find absolutley rude/annoying/irritating is authors who sit behind their table and never come out from behind it.
I rarely ever sit down. When I do it’s usually inroder to autograph a book because doing so standing is hard for me. I am always, always, standing. Either in front of my table, next to my banner, or behind it.
Was does sitting behavior annoy me so much? For one thing because the author is putting a physical barrier between them and the person stopping by their table. For another, it’s simply rude to have people talk “down” to you. Stand up! Put yourself on equal footing with the reader.
When someone comes to your house to visit do you stay seated in a chair, let them make their own way into the house and then never rise to greet them? If you do, I’m never coming to visit you.
It’s the same at booksignings. Get up. Stand up. Shake someone’s hand, or accept a hug. Let them take a picture with you. Be nice and open not rude and closed off.
I feel like I’ve been lecturing, and maybe I have. BUt sometimes it pays to say the things that people (Authors) don’t want to hear.
So, lecture over. I am going to pack all my stuff – books, swag, preorders, and that banner!
See you at #TNTNYC2022. I’ll be the curly haired, bottle blonde standing and talking in front of her table with the big, loud, Pink banner!!!