Friday, June 22, 2012

Adding to my List of Fears (as if I need more...)


I'm afraid of spiders, closed-in places I can't easily get out of, flying (mostly because it involves being in a closed-in place I can't get out of), and department store fitting rooms.

(Okay, that last one isn't exactly a fear, per se, but they do make me cringe.)

And now I can add something else: book signings. More precisely, my first book signing, which has been scheduled by lovely publicist at Tor. (Click here for details.)

So, I'm suppose to read an excerpt, take questions from the audience, and then sign books.

EEK!

Okay, first of all, the excerpt. Which part of the book? How many pages? For God's sake, will I be able to find a long enough stretch without either bad words or, um, compromising situations???

*deep breath*

But let's say I figure that out, rehearse the crap out of it, and manage to get through the reading without stumbling too badly. (I mean, I'm supposed to be an actress. I can do this, right? RIGHT??)

There's still the question part. 

What if nobody asks a question? Or what if somebody asks one that takes me off-guard, and I stare blankly, mouth open like a fish gasping for water, and, yannoh, generally look like an idiot?

*another deep breath*

All right, I can plant family members strategically throughout the store ahead of the signing, and have them wander over and ask prearranged questions at the appropriate time, I suppose. I do have a large family in the area. Surely all those Christmas Eve parties we've thrown for the whole clan count for something, right? They'll show and do their duty.

Finally, the actual signing.

What if nobody buys my book? (The aforesaid family members have already pre-ordered, so I can't expect them to.) What if nobody wants me to sign???

Or *gulp* what if some kind souls do? I don't know about you, but, anymore, the small muscles in my hands are a lot more attuned to typing than to holding a pen. After about two signatures my penmanship turns to crapola. I could possibly permanently disfigure the books the kind souls are buying!

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.

If you'd like to read a someone more normal post I am over at The Debutante Ball today, it being Friday and all. We're talking about fathers this week, and my dad was pretty special. Also, funny. Click here to see what I mean. (It involves ketchup and babies. If that's an incentive...)


So tell me, on this fine Friday, what are you afraid of?

22 comments:

abby mumford said...

you should hire ciel to be you during the signing so you can observe the first one and then you're all set for all subsequent signings.

then again, the you in a parallel universe has already had multiple signings, so take some advice from her. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Relax! Book signings are fun.

After doing hundreds and attending many author events where people read from their books, here's my one piece of advice - keep it short. Stop long before people's eyes glaze over. (Which is somewhere around the 10 minute mark.)

Carol Kilgore said...

The reading part would freak me out because I am the world's worst actor. You, however, will excel and questions will flow and books will be sold. Trust me :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

A tip -- and a confession.

First the tip: Bring an extra copy of your book with you. Then, if you get nervous and mess up the personalization on the book, you can whip out your spare, sign that one, and take the messed up one home. (Happened to me once)

Second, the confession: Only 1 person came to my first signing, and she already had a copy of the book. The signing had been scheduled at a tiny independent store in Philadelphia an hour and a half from my home. I knew nobody in the area, but a friend from the internet happened to be visiting Philly and she made a point of stopping by the store. It was during a torrential downpour in a neighborhood where everybody walks. There was not a single other customer all night.

You can imagine how I felt. But my second signing was a collaborative event with more experienced authors Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin, and when I confessed what happened at my first one, they said, "Eh, that happens all the time. Don't take it personally." They also mentioned that the connections you make with book store owners can be way more important than the number of books sold.

I really appreciated their kindness, and I've since had the chance to pass their wisdom along to other first time signers ... including you. :)

Debbie Haupt said...

Linda, whew, take a bag to breathe into :), then relax because we're more afraid of you than you are of us.
and I'll know you'll do fine, now excuse me I'm off to Tor to see if you'll be anywhere in my neck of the woods.

Deb

Delia said...

The best book signing I've attended was with Joe Hill, a horror author, who was signing copies of his book Horns. It was a curse-y kind of book, so he brought a pair of light-up devil horns and would turn them on when he was about to read a passage that contained anything one might find offensive. (They went on a lot.) He also brought five or six pairs of extra horns and gave them away as an incentive to the first five or six to ask a question. It was fun (and a clever way to get the questions rolling).

I've never done a reading (obvs), but my advice is: keep the reading short and free of spoilers; bad handwriting is easily overlooked if you doodle next to it; and if it's a small independent (next time), bring cupcakes for the employees. Okay, that last one is because I know the employees in my local independent, but really, it couldn't hurt. ;) Oh, and try not to worry. The book was super fun and you'll do awesome.

Also, spiders suck.

Patty Blount said...

Deep breaths, Linda! We can muddle through this together.

First, don't strive for good penmanship. In fact, I'm told it's best if your autograph is NOT your signature, for identity-theft purposes. Make a squiqqly L and G and the rest doesn't need to be legible.

Next, you're a funny lady. If no one asks a question, who says you can't just whip out an index card and ask yourself one? Make it a shtick! :)

As for what sections to read - here are two approaches. About 2 years ago, I went to NYC to hear Jeff Somers and Sean Ferrell read. Jeff read Chapter 4 from his book. Sean read Chapter 1.

Jeff prefaced his reading with a bit of humor. He told the audience pretty much NOTHING about what happened prior to chapter 4 and then said he felt sorry for us because Chapter 4 would clearly not make much sense.

I LOVED IT. It was hilarious.

When Sean read Chapter 1, it needed no preface and that's fine, too. We soon got immersed in the story.

My point? You own it and can make the event as funny or as serious as you wish.

Michelle Wolfson said...

Delia, I think that anecdote about what Joe Hill did to get people to ask questions is brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

I'm going to start suggesting that to all of my authors!!

Jessica said...

*EXCITED DANCE!* My advice? Have someone planted in the audience who will pick up your signal if you get stumped on a question (say, put your finger beside your nose or something.) Have the plant stumble into a nearby bookrack and overturn it, or maybe the book shelves, thereby starting a dominoe effect and causing mass chaos. If that fails, pull the fire alarm. Or eat a Twix bar. (works in the commercials)

But all that's just your emergency backup plan, because really? You're gonna do AWESOME and people will LOVE you. I know b/c *I* am an awesome judge of character and already think those two things about you.

*super big grin*

Jessica Lemmon said...

*EXCITED DANCE!* My advice? Have someone planted in the audience who will pick up your signal if you get stumped on a question (say, put your finger beside your nose or something.) Have the plant stumble into a nearby bookrack and overturn it, or maybe the book shelves, thereby starting a dominoe effect and causing mass chaos. If that fails, pull the fire alarm. Or eat a Twix bar. (works in the commercials)

But all that's just your emergency backup plan, because really? You're gonna do AWESOME and people will LOVE you. I know b/c *I* am an awesome judge of character and already think those two things about you.

*super big grin*

Deana said...

This exact thing! Yes, I do think ahead to the day my lovely agent will sell my book and then on to the ever so scary book signings. Good luck! I'm sure it will be wonderful:)

Kristina L. Martin said...

Okay, speech coach here. Pick your favorite 3 passages from book. Excerpt should be at least 3 minutes long but no more than 5 (use judgement). Practice reading the pieces using all those acting techniques. Especially pacing.

Have something to hand out, even if it's a bag of Hershey's kisses.

If there are few people, no worries. You'll have lots of time with employees who will remember you and that helps sell books. If you get a question that flusters you, take a sip of water before answering. Admit it if you don't know. You don't have to be an expert.

As for signature, create a list of 4-5 things you can use that seem personal. Keep it very simple & have each person spell their name even if you should know it.

Lastly, have fun. YOU'RE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!

Jen Stayrook said...

Oh, Linda, you're so adorable and wonderful and I heart you. I think you'll be fine. You're funny on the spot and you'd be surprised how many pickles you can get out of with humor.

Planting friends and family in the audience is a great idea. When I had presentations in college, I bribed (threatened) classmates to ask questions for that reason, but I think you'll be surprised how many people will ask questions without violence. ;-)

As for the handwriting, no one cares what it looks like. It's what it says that matters.

I WISH I STILL LIVED IN DC! I'd be first in line!

LD Masterson said...

Just keep reminding yourself you could be locked up in a tiny airplane with a really big spider. After that anything will look easy.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

You'll be fabulous. It wouldn't be normal if the first time wasn't a bit overwhelming and scary. <3

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

oh yay Delia's done with the book so I'm one closer to getting the ARC.
Would it be good advice to tell you to drink a glass of wine everytime you get nervous about the reading? Maybe not.
I have every confidence all will go well for you!

Patsy said...

After reading this I'm starting to get scared about my own signing! I'm glad I won't have to read anything out - just sit there smiling as people walk straight by me to buy other people's books.

Patsy said...

I got distracted by your blog ... I came over to say there's an award for you over at mine.

Beth said...

So I guess if I want a signed book I'll have to trek up your way, huh? [g]

Diana always said, keep it short and make it funny.

As to the signature being illegible...have you ever seen Orson Scott Card's book sig? I rest my case.

Al said...

Dropping my camera and breaking it. There is no way I could afford to replace it at the moment and I would just cry if I had to go back to my old one!

Missy Olive said...

I'm petrified of anything that creeps or crawls (spiders, snakes, etc).

I will not be scared at my book signing but I will be petrified to read it aloud.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Oh. Lord. Reading aloud. I can't do it. I mean, I can, but my voice shakes like crazy. Did a radio gig a couple of months ago and it was ridiculous. Especially because I can read anyone else's stuff just fine, and I can sit and shoot the crap off the top of my head no problem. It's just reading my own stuff that turns me into a quaker.

Hey, I know. Maybe the bookstore would let you pre-record your excerpt and then just play it!