Wednesday, May 4, 2022

IWSG May 2022, Best and Worst Writing Times, Notes from an Author Table, Invite to a Class



The IWSG is a place to vent concerns and give encouragement! Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this blog hop has grown to support writers all over the world with a website and social media pages. 
Many thanks to the co-hosts this month: Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

To join, go here: IWSG Sign Up

May 4 Optional Question - It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

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

Last week, I spent a week at an author table at a BBQ restaurant in my home city. The owner has a rotating group of authors who take the table for a week at a time, all the time. He's super supportive of local authors and artists. The space is by the window, right next to the exit door so customers have to walk by it, and there is a chalkboard on the other side of the table, visible to most in the restaurant. Here is what I rediscovered from my second time at the table in the last six months:
  1. 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.
  2. 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). 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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). 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. Trust the customer to ask the questions. 
  9. 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.
  10. 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. 
  11. 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. 
  12. 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. 
  13. 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. 
  14. Thank the venue. . 

Invite to a Class

You are invited to: 

The Writer’s Workshop Series, Four-Sentence Exercises to Boost Creativity and Sensory Description 
Friday, May 6, 2022
7:00 PM  8:00 PM (PDT - Seattle/LA Time)

In this class, writers will engage in listening, discussion, writing, and sharing to learn how to:

·       Create a micro-fiction story.

·       Utilize short writing exercises to hone their writing craft.

·       Increase their sensory descriptions beyond visual description.

Please note all virtual gatherings are live streamed on Facebook to amplify accessibility. 

Zoom link will be sent just prior to the start of festivities. 


I have a new author logo from the excellent creators at Miblart!

I received the final artwork a few days ago, so I haven't put it in all the right places yet, but I'll be dedicating post to the process of getting this logo done next week!


Wishing you all the best of writing times and life times! 


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks for sharing those wonderful notes, Tyrean! So many good ones! It's so tricky figuring out how to be approachable but not just sitting there, twiddling your thumbs, staring into space or at someone. And I like how you used the chalkboard.

M.J. Fifield said...

I love that one of the restaurant regulars read your work aloud. That's so great! (Though I would have been hiding UNDER the table if it had been me...)

Whenever I'm at a venue where I have an author table, I'm constantly not found at my table. I clearly have some work to do there.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Tyrean, yes, rejection letters are always a big low for us writers :(

Natalie Aguirre said...

It's awesome that a local restaurant lets you put out a table with your books. It would be hard to look busy while waiting for people to stop by. Thanks for your tips.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Madeline - You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

MJ - Thankfully, he read my work out loud after I had been there for a few hours, so I had acclimated a bit. :)

Rachna - yes, sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it's a kick in the pants.

Natalie - Yes, I'm thankful to the restaurant owner and all the authors of the area who make events like this happen.

H. R. Sinclair said...

That keep sales talk is like shop talk, keep it short and sweet.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

How many hours are you at the table? I'm a roamer, so staying put would be difficult for me.

Fundy Blue said...

What an interesting post, Tyrean. It's great to have someone sponsor authors by giving them a space in his restaurant. Your feedback on the event was great. Good luck with your class. I will be unable to participate, but I appreciate the invite. Take care!

Kim Elliott said...

Great ideas about how to look busy but not too busy at an author's table! Those days when writing seems too daunting to start are just plain evil. I keep reminding myself that procrastination is the enemy.

Tyrean Martinson said...

HR - exactly

Diane - I like to roam, too, but there isn't much space for that at the restaurant. Typically, the authors have 3-4 hours an evening to be at the table, if that works for them, and each author takes a week.

Fundy - Thanks!

Kim Elliott - Thank you! I know what you mean. Procrastination just makes it worse, but it's hard to remember that in the moment.

Damyanti Biswas said...

Ah, the struggles of procrastination is all too real.

Lori L. MacLaughlin said...

Thanks for all the great tips! It always works better for me to have something to do so I'm not just sitting and staring or fidgeting. Sometimes I cut out book cards and other times I make jewelry - sword charm necklaces that I hand out as free gifts for buying a book. Anything to keep me relaxed. Love the new logo!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tyrean - great ideas for your authorly table ... and then getting engagement through your input ... sparking drabbles about the event and attendees - love it. Good luck with your micro-fiction class ... sounds fun. Cheers Hilary

Chemist Ken said...

Sounds like you're really getting a lot out of that Author Table. And yay for the new author logo!

Yeah, I suspect marketing can lead to a lot of lows. :)

Shannon Lawrence said...

BBQ is my favorite, so I'd love to get to do a signing at a BBQ restaurant! It's cool they open up for that. Also, these are some great tips. I did learn that if I took some editing to do in a binder or a coloring book (horror-based, of course), that it helped. On the flipside, I engage more people if I stand at my table, rather than sitting. It's all so complicated in some ways!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Great tips, which would probably work in a variety of scenarios. And what a wonderful and relaxing opportunity to interact with readers. I love this idea so much!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I have the hardest time being quiet while people are reading the back of the cover. I don't want to stare at them hopefully. Or look bored on my phone. It's the most awkward time!!

I got here too late. I would have loved to have zoomed in on your class. Let me know if you do any more.

Love the new logo!!!!