Thoughts On My Book Tour
Thanks so much to The Qwillery for having me on the blog! When Sally asked me several months ago, I floated the idea of doing my blog post for the month *after* Ironskin came out. Why? Because October was dedicated to book tour, and I thought it would be fun to share thoughts on that.
So I got to go to a couple stops in my home state of Kansas (the Oak Park Barnes & Noble in KC, and The Raven in Lawrence), the Cedar Hills Powell's in Portland, the University Bookstore in Seattle, and Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach (L.A. area.)
First? It was awesome. I know authors sometimes say that touring isn't all it's cracked up to be, and I'm sure that this can be totally true. I was lucky enough to not have any disasters befall me. So I had an incredibly wonderful time.
What did I learn?
1. Invite your friends!
I posted about the events everywhere I could think of, including Facebook, Goodreads, my blog, Twitter, etc, etc. I additionally invited many of my friends directly. So the majority of folks that
came were friends and acquaintances. In Lawrence I got to see my third grade teacher, in Seattle I saw several former Clarion West classmates, and in L.A. I saw a couple friends from high school! It
was like a traveling reunion! I was thrilled that everyone came out to support me. And then additionally, every stop had people I did not know, and I was so very happy to meet the potential-fans and already-fans that came out for my reading. The tour turned out to be really great, but it would have been smaller crowds if I hadn't done the legwork.
2. Think like an actor.
I'm different than many writers in that I happen to love getting up in front of a crowd and reading from my book and answering questions. My mom said that probably my (extensive) theatre (geek) background was helpful. And that is totally true! I've got a handle on basic speaking skills. So, here's a couple tips for those reading your work in public for the first time:
- Your main goal is to make the audience comfortable. (Your story selection can make them uncomfortable, but you and your delivery should not!) So avoid self-denigrating remarks ("this isn't very good, but..." "this is the first time I've read this, so...") and always choose a selection you feel comfortable reading. You don't have to read the section with the histrionic fight, or the hardcore intimacy. Play to your strengths. Let the audience know they're in good hands.
- Make sure your story is printed out and easy to read. If you read off of a laptop, we'll be more concerned that you're about to drop it (see: making the audience comfortable). Additionally you'll have to worry about power issues. Peter Honigstock at Powell's told me that they lost power during a YA event a few months ago, and had to finish it up in the dark.
I actually have a flash fiction podcast called Toasted Cake (toastedcake.com) and starting with episode 41, I've been sharing little story narration tips after every story. So if you want some more thoughts on pacing, funny voices, and not looking nervous, check out those recent episodes!
3. Think like a carnie.
I also work as a face painter. Which means that companies will hire me - say for a corporate picnic – to do free face painting for the kids. Which also means, subtextually – help us make our picnic a fun and comfortable place to be. So I found while at these book tour events I actually had an "event background" to draw on – that I had more experience than I expected making sure people were having fun. I would never have thought of myself as a party host type person (which can be a good model to follow) but then, I did have experience to draw from after all. YMMV here, but I like saying Hi to everyone before the event starts, and meeting as many of the folks I don't know as I can, and introducing people to each other, so we're starting to have a good time even before the reading begins. (Imagine here what your best friend would do—you know, the one that's so good at throwing parties. Pretend to be her.) Sometimes you might start to feel shy, but this is when the event planner mentality should kick in. If you feel overwhelmed because it's an event that's focused on you...stop
thinking of it that way. Think of it as a event all about the bookstore, and you're hired to help them have a fun time tonight. It's a funny mental trick, but it can be helpful!
Thanks so much to The Qwillery for having me today to talk about my book tour for Ironskin. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful to you, whether you're going on book tour, reading at open mic night, or even gearing up to do a presentation at work!
Oh, and PS - this didn't occur to me till my very last stop, but here's the other bonus about being a face painter – you can ask me to draw something random in your book, and I will totally do it. (A girl
in LA asked for a kitten with tentacles.) So come see me next time I'm in your town, and I will draw in your book, too!
Tor, October 2, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.
It's the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain -- the ironskin.
When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation" -- a child born during the Great War -- Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.
Teaching the unruly Dorie suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn't expect to fall for the girl's father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.
Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life -- and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.
|Photo by Caroline M. Yoachim|
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