Ah, I've had good times and bad times. I hope I've already had the worst of times, and I hope I haven't had the best of times yet.
My writer highs come when I get some writing in, whether it's a line of poetry, a list of words, a paragraph, or 10,000 words. Each word counts.
I also love seeing my work in print online, in paperback, or just about anywhere.
My writer lows come on the days when writing just seems too daunting to start, or when I feel overwhelmed by all the marketing stuff, or the business side of things - like knowing I need to fix all the links in all of my e-books. I'm not a big fan of rejection letters, but I know those are part of the business so sometimes they are part of my lows and sometimes they spur me on to work harder.
Speaking of working harder, life, as always, is pretty busy, but I had an Author Table last week and I have a writing class online this week. If you would like to sign up for the latter, there might be spaces still available.
Notes from an Author Table
- Being present in the world is the most important part of sitting at an author table. People get to see me and know that I seem mostly sane and friendly. This is key to actually getting sales, whether they are there at the table or later online.
- Being engaged at the author table is the second most important part. If I have something I am doing, so I am not just staring down anyone who wants to approach the table or smiling maniacally (I do this when I'm nervous), people actually come talk to me. The important key here is having the right thing to do, so I can greet people, but also not overwhelm or look distracted. Tasks that work for me: writing in a journal (not a laptop, which looks "closed for business" to most people), drawing, and origami. Things I've seen other authors do: play cards, knit, talk to other people around them (if at a multiple table venue).
- I need to keep my gaze moving. I can't stare into space, stare at potential customers, read a book, or even look too long at any task I've given myself to look busy.
- Changing activity levels always helps. I can stand up, rummage around my book table - really, how many ways can I fiddle with my display? - sit, change chairs, take a short walk in the general area, or do some performance art by writing a poem or hint fiction story on a large chalkboard (this was available to me at the restaurant so I used it).
- Business cards are the best swag. I know they aren't really swag, but honestly, they are the thing that the second most interested customers pick up from my table. The top interested customers pick up a book.
- The second-best swag for me: tiny stories and poems on small pieces of paper for potential customers to take for free. These are all stories and poems I've had previously published.
- Remember, being present is the most important part. If I make live sales at the table, that's a bonus. If I hand out business cards, about half of the number that get picked up represent the number of sales I have online afterward.
- Trust the customer to ask the questions.
- Keep any "sale" talk to a minimum and keep it simple. "I write science fiction and fantasy with strong heroines and a touch of faith" is about enough. If people ask me about specific books or ask about a cover, then I can say more. If I say too much too quickly, sometimes they run.
- Long pauses while they look at my books are good. Dramatic effect does wonders for sales. Talking too much drives people away - at least for me.
- Having an "interest" item on the table that's visible from ten feet away is good. I bring my fencing foil or saber with me. I don't let kids pick it up, so I have to keep an eye on it, but it definitely draws customers to come and talk to me about it, which leads me to talk about my books and writing fight scenes.
- If someone won't take a book after they've paused and talked, try to get them to take a business card by offering it to them.
- Take advantage of my surroundings. I used the chalkboard visible to most of the restaurant to display some of my poetry - each day I wrote a new (previously published) poem on the board. It gained some attention from customers and gave me way to engage with them. One regular customer of the BBQ restaurant offered to read my work out loud with theatric hand gestures in a booming voice. I let him have at it and it was great.
- Thank the venue. .