Delight Your Readers and Your Guests at Promotional Events with a Fun Activity

“Without promotion, something terrible happens…nothing!” —P. T. Barnum

by ARTG33K74

Many authors delight readers with recipes. Not a cook? How about a fun craft.

Delight your readers and guests at your events with a book-related craft. Click to tweet.

Why?

  • The activity offers your craft-loving readers who visit your website’s “For Readers” page free directions for something they like to do. They’ll return for more. Give them more. Just like the recipe idea.
  • Organizers of fairs know people like to participate in activities. So they provide face painting, games, and crafts. LEGO® is great at this idea at its LEGO® events. So for your events, offer a take-home craft for your guests.
  • A simple craft will draw people to your book-signing table.
  • Participants will have something to help them remember you and your book after they leave. They’ll have something to show others and talk about your book.

Important:

Your promotional craft should relate to something that’s in your book. Click to tweet. 

Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Example:

In Calculated Risk under the throes of being dumped by her boyfriend, Cisney rashly accepts Nick’s invitation, given in a moment of compassion, to spend Thanksgiving with his family. On Thanksgiving Day after receiving a new tablecloth, Nick’s mother asks Cisney to re-set the table to use the new tablecloth. Cisney folds the napkins into birds of paradise. To Nick’s chagrin, the folded napkins are a hit with his female relatives.

I learned to fold napkins into birds of paradise when I volunteered at Bible Study Fellowship headquarters in San Antonio during a training session. The fold was simple to do and dressed up the setting so nicely. I used them at home for a dinner gathering.

Napkin Step 8So in addition to using my personal experience in my story, something I talked about in a recent post, I use it as a promotional activity. I share the activity on my website with step-by-step photos. I’ll also have a table for napkin folding at promotional events.

Added Benefits

  • Three teens will host a table of folding birds of paradise at my book launch party. A perfect way to involve young ladies. Hopefully, they’ll enjoy helping guests fold the paper-napkin flowers. The teens will make extras that people who don’t want to fold napkins can take.
  • Guests will learn a way to dress up their table settings at home. I hope the birds of paradise will also help guests remember Calculated Risk after they leave the party.
  • I plan to offer the activity at my upcoming book signing. The folded birds of paradise will give me something to talk about with customers who stop by. This activity will be in addition to the giveaway basket of book-related goodies I talked about in a recent post. 

From the last book you read, what might be used for a craft to share with readers?

You Can Find the Creative Sweet Spot to Connect with Your Audience

“The sweet spot of every person lies at the intersection of our greatest strength and greatest passion.” —Ken Coleman

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Has your approach to engage an audience gone awry like a shanked golf ball that speeds away from the cup?

If so, finding the creative sweet spot in your activity will propel your desired result forward.

The sweet spot is the point that creates the most power for the least effort. To visualize this, try the following.

Suspend a golf putter between your forefinger and thumb. Then lightly tap the putterhead on either the toe or the heel. The putterhead turns slightly, but the putter doesn’t swing. Now, tap it where the manufacturer has marked the sweet spot between the toe and the heel. The putter swings like a pendulum, ready to send a ball forward.

3 Examples

1. Connecting with a preschool boy.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At Bible Study Fellowship, a volunteer sat on a chair. She asked a little boy about the car he played with during free play. The boy muttered something as he rolled his car on the rug with pre-printed roads.

She made a connection. But compare it with what I’ve used with preschool boys in several venues. I sit on the floor near the boy. I select another car and a police car. I make my first car speed and then take on the role of the policeman inside my police car. I speak what the policeman thinks and says and sound the police siren as my police car chases my speeding car.

In no time, we’re playing police-chase. Sometimes the boy likes to be the policeman, stopping my speeding car: “You were speeding. Speeding is bad. Here’s a ticket.” I dramatically plead my case, and sometimes I zoom off.

The sweet spot in this case is the dramatic story while entering the boy’s circle of play.

2. Connecting with readers.

inner voiceI wrote four “practice” novels. I received nibbles from editors, but the novels lacked one main thing. When I found it, I had two short stories published and landed a book contract. The sweet spot? Writer’s voice.

Donald Maass says in Writing the Breakout Novel, “By voice, I think they mean not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches an author’s oeuvre.”

After learning other aspects of the craft, I finally had fun and let my inner personality and attitude come through in my writing. Ta-da. My voice.

 3. Connecting with young male prisoners.

nativityWhen I joined a prison ministry, I felt something was missing in the verbal messages.

For the Christmas lesson, I brought in a large nativity scene, and as I told the story of Jesus’ birth, I arranged different scenes from the pieces: Mary, Joseph, an angel, a stable, animals, infant Jesus, and shepherds. After the story, a wide-eyed young man approached me and wanted to know more.

The sweet spot was the drama of my visual scenes.

Like a golfer uses his putterhead’s sweet spot to send his golf ball to the cup, you can find something creative to move your audience.

What have been sweet spots in your activities?

The Secret Ingredient to Engaging Your Audience

“Communicating an idea juxtaposed with its polar opposite creates energy. Moving back and forth between the contradictory poles encourages full engagement from the audience.” —Nancy Duarte

Hot Dog and Chopsticks

You step back from your creative work and, no matter how hard you rationalize its appeal, you know in your heart something is missing. The ingredient that takes it from dull to fascinating.

Most of us know the secret ingredient already. Then why don’t we use it? I’ll address reasons why we overlook the secret ingredient after I give you some examples of how it’s been employed.

Secret Ingredient: CONTRAST.

Musical Instrument Keyboard KeysExample 1: My favorite rhythm activity with preschoolers is freeze dance. In Bible Study Fellowship and Sunday school, we danced to music pieces on the small keyboard I carried. Then I’d punch the stop button. The children froze arms, legs, and face expressions. I tried to catch them in a stumbling stop or moving when silence dropped. They enjoyed the dancing, the anticipation, and avoiding getting caught.

The freeze dance provides these contrasts:

  • freely moving bodies vs. rigid frozen bodies
  • doing our own thing vs. obeying the rule to stop
  • anticipation vs. fun result

When we solely put on music and let them dance with scarves, the children didn’t stay engaged very long. Unless they used their scarves as whips (creating their own contrast).

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Image courtesy of Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Example 2: If you sat in a waiting room with a blue wall in front of you, how long would you stare at the wall with interest? Now, say the wall was white with a foot-by-foot blue square painted on it. Would your eye wander to that blue square now and then? Would you wonder why someone painted a blue square on the white wall? Might you imagine what you would have put on the wall instead of the blue square? Or what you’d add to the blue square?

The contrast of blue and white, big and small, and the why and why not of the blue square creates more interest than a solid blue wall. That’s why artists use light and dark, shadows and highlights.

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Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Example 3: Would you sit through a movie or play where the actors constantly shouted? Or issued nonstop dramatic emotion—always whining or always blubbering or always laughing? Actors and storytellers know sprinkling subtle and dramatic emotions, shouts and whispers, and movement and stillness engages their audiences.

??????????????????????????Too much of anything gets old and audiences lose interest.

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Example 4: And for me, the greatest contrast of all: Creator and created. If the Bible were only about humans and their sinful natures and fleeting brief lives on earth, our future would be hopeless. But the Bible reveals the nature of the almighty Creator who sent His Son to earth to save us from our sins, give us eternal life in His kingdom, and make us whole.

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Why doesn’t a writer, an artist, or presenter use contrasts? Here’s reasons that came to my mind:

  • He does, but uses less than polar contrasts. The contrasts fall short of appearing different to the audience. The actor reduces his screams to shouts.
  • He fails to put the contrasts he sees in his mind into his work. This is a common problem of novice writers. They imagine a scene and its emotions but fall short of transferring what they’ve created in their minds to the page.
  • He uses an experience in his personal life. His emotional struggles with the experience convince him to avoid one side of the contrast. Contrasting costs too much pain.
  • He thinks the one element that intrigues him is sufficient to attract his audience. He forgets his passion must be related to the audience. Contrasting that element to its opposite helps the audience see his viewpoint.

Can you share an example of how you’ve contrasted elements in your creative work?

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