Had a party. Didn't die of humiliation. I call that a win.
My author event at the library came and went. It was good. Yes, good. Good meaning I was so nervous, I stuttered and didn't look anyone in the eye. I was being overrun by loud kids, and cant watch the video without some severe cringe going on.
The turn out was good. I definitely had a lot of support and encouragement from not only the attendees, but from the library staff as well. It was obvious I didn't know what I was doing so everyone seemed to band around me and be incredibly supportive and I totally feel the love! So thank you to everyone who put up with my cringe worthy performance, you are all rock stars to me.
On another note, I did try to learn what to do and say beforehand. No one told me what to expect! I got help with what to bring, and little tiny details of what to have set up like how many books to take and swag to bring.
What I wasn't told is:
What to say. How to remember what to say.
When to start. How long to wait for stragglers to show up before I start talking.
That there would be a question and answer portion.
That being a radio DJ does NOT translate to being able to speak in public.
How long I should talk.
That children should not necessarily be there, at least mine shouldn't. Ha!
And much, much, more!
Some of this is from the face I didn't even know what to ask about before my event. I'd never been to one, let alone have my own.
So, for anyone thinking about doing an author event I'm going to share exactly what I did, what went wrong, what attendees can expect and can do to help the authors, and more. In the future, if I can get over my humiliation and do this again, I'll add more ideas as I go along.
It's good for anyone attending these events to remember, many authors are not social people. Take me for instance, I am kind of on the fence in between being a very outgoing person who loves meeting new people. Someone who can crack dumb jokes on the radio every week and be totally fine with it. I also have severe social anxiety. If it hits me in the middle of a social situation then I can completely break down. So, just keep in mind if you are attending one of these you are most likely going to a public event of an introvert who is holding their professionalism together as best as they can. Some introverts come off as aloof and many of us have resting "mean" face, or worse. So we may not be snobs or "mean" we are just really nervous to be out of our books and thrust into public. Haha. Maybe, hopefully, have a little grace. Even if you're taking time out of your busy day to support an author who needs to work on the public side of their craft a little bit more.
This isn't an excuse though. I don't believe in making excuses for bad behavior. I do try to be professional. I may have a radio show all about pranks and shenanigans, but there are many things in my private life I refrain from doing now that it could affect either of my careers in the book world, DJ world, or my volunteer efforts. Professionalism or lack thereof aside, I am trying to get better. This career choice, like any, has a bit of a learning curve, and for me that consists of learning to speak in public, getting over my insecurities, and having some decorum when representing myself, my books, and my publishers who took a chance on me. Along with coming to terms with the fact I have to learn all about marketing and things like this if I want to succeed. Success has no comfort zones. It took this kick in the gut to make me realize all of this.
Now on to what I did, learned, and what to do if you too are an author preparing for your first author event or live book launch party.
Things I should have done/learned beforehand:
* How to properly speak in public and hold myself while speaking in public.
* Practiced my entire speech before on my friends and family.
* How many books to take of each of my books, not just the main book the event was for.
* Found a personal photographer/videographer that knows my good angles so I don't end up looking like I have chins for days in all of my photos and videos.
* Not taken my children, even if they wanted to show their support for their Mommy. They ended up being a huge distraction and didn't understand they couldn't talk to me or play while I was working. They're used to having all access to me, and were excited they got to hang out in the library.
* Learned to keep the start time fluid so I didn't panic when we couldn't start at 3:30 on the dot.
* Greet everyone who shows up beforehand.
* Learn what I want to say when I sign a book.
Things that did happen:
* I set up a half hour before.
* I had two tables, one for me and my books and swag. One for cupcakes, plates, napkins, and water bottles.
* The first people to show up were strangers. I felt awkward when they sat down and I was just waiting for more people. I didn't really look at them or engage them because I was intimidated. I should have. They were really cool and I was bummed I didn't have more time just to chat with them when it was all over.
* We didn't start exactly on time because people were late. I was so nervous just waiting around. I should have taken it all in stride, and used that extra time to focus my children and all of the children.
* The children were loud. They were excited and playing. They talked over me a lot when I started. It made it hard to hear me even in the video.
* I started by introducing myself, it felt a little weird because most people there knew me. It shouldn't have. You have to learn how to describe yourself in life, it shouldn't be a big deal.
* Then I moved on to when I started seriously writing, my querying process, and when I got published. I kind of felt like I could have left that all out.
* I then discussed my two other books. Described them quickly and moved on. I probably could have left that out too. It felt like I was jumping around from subject to subject.
*Finally I got to the main event. I talked about Song Of Fire, the story line, the premise, and how long I've worked on it and how long of a series its going to be.
* Then I stumbled and didn't know what to say. I didn't learn how to close or move on into questions... I also didn't know there would be questions.
*So the questions came. I loved it! It gave the conversation direction and felt more like just chatting with friends. I could calm down, make a few silly jokes, and enjoy myself. That was my favorite part of the day. The library staff helped by asking plenty of questions. Some of the attendees even took notes on things I said which felt weird, but in a good way. It was just nice.
* Then the question stopped and without thinking I said "So are we done?" and under my breath I said "oh yay" hahahha I didn't mean it in a bad way it was more like a joke. Plenty of people heard and laughed. I was glad to be done. Then those that wanted to lined up and approached my table buying books and asking for signed ones.
*People took pictures and cleared out slowly. I was very calm by the end.
* We cleaned up and chatted with the librarian left. That was fun, she's a really neat person.
*Then we left and I saw the pictures. You know the music from those horror movies that played when someone stumbles on a horrifically gruesome scene and then screams. That's what played in my mind when I saw the photos and video. They were wretched. Not my photographer and videographer's fault at all! I was really having a bad face day haha, and they very obviously didn't know my good angles. ALWAYS teach your photographer your good angles. It wont help too much if you are just flat out not photogenic like me, but it will help some. It's better than getting your entire video done from the angle of under your double chins since I was looking down reading my cue cards the entire time it accentuated my chins. I looked like I was using those funny fun house snap chat filters. Haha. Lesson learned.
That's all I've got for now. I don't want to make this post too long. I plan to do a section all about Author Events as I learn and grow. For now use my experience as a cautionary tale.
If you're attending an event, cheer your author on, ask questions and engage them. Be excited for them.
If you're an author, take a breath, be professional, and enjoy it! It's your time to shine and it's over so fast!