Your Author Event Was NOT a Failure

“One fails forward toward success.” — Charles F. Kettering

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I share the story of my meet-the-author library event for one purpose:

Don’t bemoan the poor response to your author event; look for the hidden successes. Click to tweet.

Act 1 – The Setup

 

I called a library. The event coordinator detailed impressive ways she promoted author events. She said the library was dedicated to helping authors. According to her suggestion, we set up a weekday date from 11AM to 1PM.

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Later, I delivered my press release content and book cover poster, which the coordinator displayed at the entrance. It would greet patrons for a month.

We checked whether my MacBook Air would work with their projector. Too iffy. I’d bring my large-screen desktop.

 

The head librarian said 4 to 12 attended these events. No surprise to me.

Act 2 – The Preparation

 

I wanted to add activities different from the normal ones. Of course, I’d wear my Cisney costume from Calculated Risk’s cover with yellow stickies dotting my suit.

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy

Cisney3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prepared and timed activities to fit a 90-minute period, leaving time to settle in and chat. Here’s the schedule titles:

1.  Doughnuts. Bring enough for participants and library staff.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2.  Writing journey with a twist: A String of Nevers. Perform my journey using catchy titles for each journey stage. Raise a NEVER sign each time I utter “never.”

3.  Story behind the story. Keep it to a few entertaining stories.

4.  Story tidbits. Tell about 12 story-related items from my story basket. End each blurb with an intriguing story question.

5.  Scene 1. Give a dramatic reading.

6.  Book Trailers. Ask for feedback on Calculated Risk’s two trailers.

7.  Q & A

8.  Bird of Paradise Napkin. Invite participants to fold a book-related napkin fold.

9.  Drawing. Give away a copy of Calculated Risk.

Act 3 – The Live Event

 

Sometimes, discussed promotion fails to happen. Such was true for this event. But I set up everything and was ready.

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By 11:00, no one had arrived.

At 11:15, I enjoyed a doughnut, telling God everything was fine, I trusted him no matter what.

At 11:25, I told the mortified-for-me coordinator we’d try again in the spring. I packed up.

A woman came in: “I hear you’ve packed up and will return in the spring.” We chatted. Another woman arrived disappointed I was leaving. So we went on with the show.

 

Successful Reviews

 

1.  For trusting God and refusing to lay blame for no attendees, God blessed me with two women.

2.  The two ladies are active in eight library book clubs. They told me to come back, and they’d promote the event using their connections. They recommended a bookstore where local authors do well in book signings. And they both bought a book.

3.  I’ll use my preparation for this event for future ones. Rehearsing to two women is far better than to my mirror. I’ll tweak my presentation, and I’ll be ready for the next event.

4.  The head librarian recommended the same bookstore the women did and supplied names of contacts.

5.  I had fun.

What blessings have you received from an author event?

The Best Way to Prepare to Speak at Live Author Events

“Creating a personal catalog of stories associated with various emotions is a useful resource.” — Nancy Duarte

 

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re an introvert like I am, you may dread people asking you questions at live author events. You may wonder what you could possibly say at these functions that would interest readers. You may not be gifted in pulling together concise, yet witty, answers in the presence of—gasp!—people.

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

Here’s what I learned was THE best activity that helped me in live events for Calculated Risk.

In prep for live author events, obtain as many guest interviews on others’ blogs as you can. Click to tweet.

Why?

1.  You’ll receive a full gamete of possible questions. So, you’ll encounter few surprises at live events.

Some blog interviewers request you choose a certain number of questions to answer from a myriad of questions. They’ll list the possible questions under such categories as: your book; your writing journey; your writing preferences; you as a writer; and you as a person.

2.  You can formulate your answers in the quiet of your writing space. You can write and rewrite them until they’re concise and witty.

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

3.  You’ll write the answers over and over for all your guest blog interviews. Some blogs want short answers. Some want long chatty answers. Every time you prepare your answers for a guest post, you’re learning the best way to answer questions. The answers are becoming ingrained in your brain. You feel more and more comfortable with the questions.

For example, after ten or so blog interviews you’ll now know the silliest, the most exotic, and the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done. Questions about these are commonly asked. If you’d never thought to identify these oddest moments in your life, you’d probably get flustered or silent at a live event when asked such questions. But now, after scanning your life for these moments off stage, you’re ready for that kind of question.

4.  You can keep all your guest blog interviews’ questions and answers handy in one place so you can review your answers in preparing for the live event.

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

How to get invited for blog guest interviews.

  1. Join email and other social media author loops. I belong to my agent’s yahoo group, my publisher’s author group, and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) main and regional groups. Request for guest bloggers come up on these loops all the time when bloggers are filling their interview schedules.
  1. Visit blogs that do interviews and contact the owners with a request to be interviewed.
  1. Apply to writing organizations and magazines for spotlights they offer in their publications. I applied for a spotlight on ACFW and received a spot January 12.                                        

Obtaining author interviews on blogs is easy when you belong to writer groups. Click to tweet.

What are the most unusual questions you’ve seen asked in interviews? Share them with us so we can add them to our cache of get-ready questions.