Archive for February 2009

An Author Event…Done Right

February 24, 2009

Last night I attended Christopher Moore’s packed-house event at Wordsmiths. Like anybody in the industry, I’ve attended an event or three, but this one was a standout. Uh, literally. There were people standing in the vestibule of the store and spilling out onto the square. The only people who got to sit had the foresight to come in and stake out a section of floor an hour or two in advance. As I was standing there listening (because there was noplace left from which a person could see the man; Tim Frederick of Baby Got Books was kind enough to let me briefly stick my head in front of him so I could *glimpse* Christopher Moore Authorguy) it occurred to me that there are a great many things Mr. Moore does *right*, and that it might be worth sharing them here.

Moore doesn’t give readings. Well, technically, he did read some stuff, but it was a little humorous essay he wrote in one of the hotel rooms he’s occupied lately. Mostly he just talks; it’s more like watching a stand-up comic than attending an author event, because as one would expect of Christopher Moore, it’s all very funny. And he hands out swag (GREAT swag: Christopher Moore FOOL promotional hats) to people who get the quiz questions right. (Did I not mention the quiz? It’s a Books by Chris Moore trivia quiz.) And he takes questions and gives entertaining answers. I stood (stood! at the end of a long day) for an HOUR and never wondered how long I’d been standing, even though I couldn’t see much of anything.

Now, I’m not suggesting all you authors start putting together your standup routines before your book tours. Unless you’re a humorist, it probably wouldn’t go all that well. (“Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”) But I do think it’s worthwhile to think about what your fans, yes all three of those diehards who will show up at your next bookstore event, would enjoy.

Each author is a one-of-a-kind with his own particular strengths and weaknesses. Each work attracts a particular set of fans. What do you do well? If you give a good reading, by all means do one at your event. (But don’t read too long. Five minutes is almost always plenty, and you are probably not the exception to that rule.) If you don’t, well, you probably need to work on that–but you might also think about what value you bring to your fans that might be shared in a bookstore event setting. (And please, if there really are only three fans there, get down off the stage and just talk to them. You look silly up there in that situation.) Most importantly, PREPARE. You’re putting on a show; try to make it a good one. Practicing your show in advance wouldn’t hurt–not least because, when things don’t go the way you expect, you’ll be comfortable enough to gracefully depart from your mental script.

Fans come to author events, more often than not at the end of a long day full of their own responsibilities, to feel a sense of connection with the author, to experience something special. Oh, and they probably want to get their books signed. But a significant percentage of event attendees are *potential* fans who have wandered in by mistake or been dragged to the event by someone else. They probably won’t buy the book that night; but if you show them an enjoyable time, they may later. In either case, the last thing they want is to see you stand there with your face in your own book, mumbling through page after page of prose for which they lack sufficient context to care (I don’t care how great the passage on page 142 is. No one who hasn’t already read the book will get it.) and then wait passively for them to ask you to sign their book. It is your job to do more.

Entertain if you can. Hand out swag if you can get some. But whatever you do, bring the people at your events something special, something they won’t get anywhere else: a sense of connection with you.

Now THIS is a shopping list

February 23, 2009

Originally uploaded by nicobanana

courtesy Lucy Swope.

The Top Ten Misconceptions About Anointed

February 22, 2009

One of the things I enjoy most about Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO, which we launched last night at Wordsmiths, is hearing all the crazy misconceived ideas people have about the book. As one small part of all the silliness that went on there, I presented our Top Ten Misconceptions About Anointed list, which I thought I’d share with you here. (Mostly because I don’t have a recording of the AWESOME debate event, “I’m Right. You’re Stupid.” presented by Russ Marshalek, publicist extraordinaire, and Joe Davich, Assistant Director for the Georgia Center for the Book (Hey, Joe, you’ve got to look at a blog now!!)–and moderated by the Impartial and Supremely Talented Zach Steele.)

1. Anointed has not been banned in Boston—but we’re working on it.
2. Zach did not pay me to publish it.
3. In fact, as you may have read in Baby Got Books, he thinks I’m going to pay *him*.
4. The character of Kelly is not based on Zach’s wife. To my knowledge Alice has never had roundtable discussions with the voices in her head. Her voices are much more interesting than Kelly’s anyway.
5. Zach is not an atheist. He just thinks God is funnier than Morgan Freeman.
6. Jesus did not pose for the cover art, but we do have a release to use his likeness.
7. Zach was not stoned when he wrote Billy Christ, but Billy has refused to comment on his state of mind during those scenes.
8. Reading this book will not send you straight to hell, but it may make you think.
9. My husband did not try to have me committed when I picked up this book–but he did take over Mercury Retrograde’s finances.
10. We have not been sued by any church organizations, but we did receive a letter of support from the Church of Scientology.

Feelin’ the Love

February 20, 2009

This week the lit blog Baby Got Books is, as BGB host Tim Frederick puts it, “throwing objectivity to the wind and having a love fest” in honor of Zachary Steele‘s Anointed, which we’re launching this weekend at Wordsmiths in Decatur. He graciously invited me to write today’s post, so I wrote a little love letter to small press publishing.

Scroll right down after you finish reading my post for Russ Marshalek‘s hilarious interview with Zach, which is the post following mine. Tim says it best: those two should have their own reality show.

The funniest thing I’ve read all day

February 19, 2009

Russ Marshalek interviews Zachary Steele about Anointed on Baby Got Books.

There is no point in my trying to describe. Go read.

Finally, some cogent thoughts on the role of the ebook

February 19, 2009

From today’s Shelf Awareness.

Alas, I would have posted a link, but the link I’ve got points to my Gmail account. That won’t help anybody. So here is the text, and if you don’t already read Shelf Awareness, do yourself a favor and check it out.

E-books: Attractive to Some Readers All the Time

Robert T. Mize, owner of Hidden Secrets Book Covers, Albuquerque, N.M., offers an unusual perspective on e-books:

Hidden Secrets Book Covers manufactures cloth covers for paperback and hardcover books and for the Sony Reader II and Kindle I. I have been a vendor at the regional independent booksellers association trade shows, several Romantic Times conventions and the international sci-fi convention last August. Three years ago only a few people at the Romantic Times convention mentioned e-books. The next year there were maybe a dozen. Last year dozens were interested, and there was incredible interest at the sci-fi convention. All of the interest was in Kindle covers. I have yet to sell a Sony cover.

I do not agree with the comparison of e-books to the music business. I suspect that e-books will take around 15% of the new book market in the next two years, but I doubt that it will have taken 50% in 10 years.

Readers express interest in e-books for several specific reasons:

Commuters and frequent fliers like the compact nature of the e-reader. They don’t have to fuss with folding a newspaper or magazine. If they finish reading something, they can quickly download something else with a Kindle.

People who read a book a day or more like the ability to store multiple books in a tiny space. These are the people who go on vacation with one suitcase that has 35 lbs. of books. They also don’t have to worry about what to do with all of the books after they read them. If they want to keep a book for reference, they can store it on an e-book memory card.

For readers with medical problems like arthritis, M/S, carpal tunnel syndrome, lost limbs, and neck and back problems, the e-book is a godsend. The changeable font sizes can help many readers with vision problems.

Techno-junkies love new gadgets like e-books.

Textbooks are where e-books should dominate the market. In school, what would you have given for the ability to search any keyword in the textbook and be able find all passages immediately and be able to highlight sections and find them immediately? Purchasing one e-reader in elementary school that will work through high school is not unreasonable, and e-textbook packages could be put together and sold for various courses without the school or professor being locked in to a single textbook for several years.

Far more readers love curling up with a book. They also don’t want to risk ruining an e-reader poolside, boating, at the beach, in the bathtub or anywhere else around water. They love sharing a great book with friends, and giving books as a gift.

Bookstores are very different from music stores. At music stores, you went to get what you had already heard or your favorite artist’s newest album. At bookstores, you go to see what is available by both your favorite writers and other writers whom you have never heard of and to see books of local interest. A well-informed staff is of little use in a music store and rarely available at corporate chains. The well-informed staff is the greatest competitive advantage that independent bookstores have. Those bookstores who capitalize on handselling are the ones who will survive.