by John F. Harnish
Reader's Digest CyberSmiles
An author was coming to my local bookstore to discuss her novel set in Appalachia. The main character was “a strong-willed heroine fighting to survive the hardships of the times.” When I went to the reading, I was disappointed to learn the writer had canceled her appearance. The reason? She didn't want to drive in the rain.
--Contributed to the “Life in These United States” section by Diane Marshall.
The above appeared in an older issue of Reader’s Digest, but the subject is still vital for today.
This was supposed to be humorous, but there’s no humor in the frustration Diane felt. Certainly the bookstore manager was very disappointed, and mostly likely will have serious reservations about scheduling another author from that publishing house. If the author was self-published, the bookstore manager will have second thoughts about scheduling an in-store for the next self-published author seeking to do a book signing.
I remember a rainy, cold evening in September of 2003 in western Pennsylvania when I was scheduled to give a talk to local authors in a bookstore about the benefits of publishing. The store was in a strip mall about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. Walking quickly across the almost empty rain soaked parking lot, I was thinking that the weather wasn’t fit for man or beast to be venturing out. Mostly likely, no one would show up, but I arrived about an hour early so the manager knew that I’d made it.
At 7PM, customers began to emerge from within the aisles to gather at my small display in the front of the store. Four brave souls had ventured out in the foul weather to hear my talk –plus the store manager and another store employee made six. Now, I always try to give my all when I’m talking with a group of interested authors – and it doesn’t matter if there are 6 or 60 or 600 –they deserve the best presentation that’s possible. All things considered, the worse the conditions are, the better you need to be. As a result of that presentation six people very impressed with the sincerity and good efforts I put forth.
When you’re scheduled to do a bookstore event, it’s important that you make the appearance and do a great job presenting not only your book, but providing value-added information as well. By giving your audience helpful information and a take-home message, in addition to “please buy my book,” you, as the author, are coming across as someone who cares for the well-being of your listeners.
Photo courtesy of Bev Lloyd-Roberts.