When I hear the word performance, it stimulates my imagination and relevance in my life. In hindsight, I guess I’ve performed in some way shape or form since birth. Taking my first steps, learning to talk and playing well with others. I remember suppressing tears of fear as I was walking to my first day of kindergarten. As the oldest daughter, I was the first to perform in many new venues.
As a newly published author, I knew I would face another performance—a public appearance at a bookstore. I knew I’d have to do it one day. The weekend before I was to vacation in San Francisco, I isolated myself, looking up Google advice on ‘how to perform at a book signing.’ My publisher had hinted they were trying to get me into a book store while I was on the west coast. As I jumped from website to website, my stomach nervously cringed. My inexperience raised questions faster than I could find the answers.
Ten days later, I was planning my reading/appearance at Green Apple Bookstore at 6th and Clement Street. My husband and I took a cab to preview the location and get direction from our contact, Nick. The reading room was amazing and intimate. It brought my performance terror down a notch. While my lunch gurgled in my stomach, I made a trip to Kinkos to print documents, including a blog I wanted to open with. I exhaled in an effort to get my nerves off the ledge as I dressed. I’d decided that I would always perform in my favorite red glitter stilettos. It helped me get in character—author.
I was surrounded by my travel buddies and some of their old friends. The cherry on top was the appearance of two audience members that attended voluntarily. Any script that I may have thought I’d prepared went out the window. It was relaxed, spontaneous and I loved the questions. What did I learn from my first book promotion?
- Have fun engaging with the readers! Accept the spotlight but share the stage with potential followers. I wanted my room to feel like they were sitting with me in my living room.
- Prepare but be flexible. To read or not to read? I felt the pulse of the room and used the reading materials I’d marked in my book, and had a website blog ready if I needed it.
- If this had not been so last minute, I would have used my social media more. One of my readers was an old acquaintance I met on a dive trip in 2005. She saw it on Facebook only a couple hours before the event. The other visitor was associated with my publisher and book coach. Subsequently, she followed me with a message on Twitter.
- Thank the organizer. I brought San Francisco’s Ghirardelli chocolate for the staff. I followed up with a thank you and tagged their bookstore in photos.
Having experienced my first book promotion performance, I now look forward to another. And, I will be wearing my glittery red heels!