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Sunday, 23 January 2011

Tips for a memorable book signing event

Original content appears in the Pittsburgh Examiner

This past week, I had the delightful opportunity to read about some recent book signing, both in the Pittsburgh area and other parts of the country. While they weren't huge, million-selling events, each was memorable in its own way, and it's likely part of those were based on how each writer presented themselves.

Authors can have the most well-written, bestselling, and mention worthy books in the world, yet such success can be marred if said authors develop a "diva" attitude or come across to their public as gracious. Reading about the aforementioned book signing events reminded me of a feature I'd read about three months ago, which covered both professional and not-so-nice behaviors of writers who made appearances for their respective book signings.

One was about a celebrity who was staying at Trump Tower, close to the venue they were scheduled for an appearance to promote their latest book. I couldn't help but become appalled at the celebrity's behavior when reports from their assistants revealed information about the line and crowd size. Since both weren't sufficient to the celebrity's liking, they had their manager call the venue and inform the organizers about being stuck on the expressway and, as a result, the celebrity was unable to make their scheduled appearance.

Needless to say, this poor excuse did not fare well with those attending the event when it was found out the celebrity canceled at the last minute. In addition to returning the products they'd bought to be signed, customers had some less-than-flattering comments about the celebrity.

On the other end of the spectrum, hearing about a colleague's book signing this past weekend. She'd revealed that despite low attendance, one person who did appear at her book signing offered her a speaking engagement opportunity for March. I'd like to think both her approachable attitude and enthusiasm about her book during her signing event, and the speaking engagement offer was the end result. I doubt she'd been offered a speaking engagement date if she'd behaved like the aforementioned celebrity.

Whether there's three or three hundred people in attendance for your book signing, the most important factor is to put forward your best self. There's also a chance that an appearance may not be set at a venue with the most ideal atmosphere; in any case, it's best not to complain about the undesirable conditions, especially if you're an independent or even brand-new author. Not many writers shouldn't expect "red carpet" treatment, unless the author is also a celebrity.

Bookstores aren't the only places for your event either. Some writers have held theirs in office buildings where they'd worked, one took place in a styling salon, some held readings at their local libraries, another in the lobby of a small hotel, and yet another author made an appearance during a charity benefit where a small portion of proceeds from book sales went to the charitable organization.

An appearance booked at Motel Six with only five people attending, the Evian bottled water is absent from your table, which is located near a back exit, are no reasons to complain, but to make the best of what is offered. You'll not only be amazed by the final results (such as the speaking engagement offer mentioned earlier), but also earn a reputation of being easy to work with and flexible, as the biggest death knell for anyone's writing career is presenting a "diva" impression.

Success isn't always measured by enormous attendance or even book sales - in the end, the true success begins with you and your presentation to the public.

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