I had my first signing a couple weeks ago. It was at BYU Idaho Bookstore. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about signings, especially first signings.
But I liked it.
I’m sure it helped that I was warned ahead of time not to just sit behind the desk and wait for people to come, but be up and about, meeting people. I think that helped a lot.
I’m not a naturally outgoing person, and it takes a lot of worked up energy to get the guts to approach people, but I do enjoy talking with people. I enjoy social events.
I’ve mentioned before how much I hate advertising (passionately), and I know there is a certain amount of necessity about it, something of a necessary evil.
So I came up with a method that puts my mind at ease and helps me step a little out of my comfort zone. I don’t know for sure yet how effective it is, but I’m certain it’s going to prove to be a good approach for me personally. It’s simply this: whenever I have an author event, whether it be a signing, a launch party, a marketing conference, or writing conference, it is a social event. Whatever the intent of the event itself, in my mind, it’s just a social event. I try to keep other guidelines in the back of my mind to help shape who I approach, and when, but if I keep my primary objective as meeting and visiting with people, it makes a HUGE difference in my confidence and approachability.
About 15 years ago I worked at an obscure warehouse sorting obscure items from obscure grocery stores. I didn’t much enjoy the work, but I had some good friends to work with. One man was a very pleasant Arapaho guy who was kind and friendly with everyone, and because he was so kind to everyone, he was really easy to talk to. We became good friends, and one day he said, “My goal in life is to meet as many people as I can.” That was it. That was his life goal. Not, “become the most popular person,” or “become a role model,” or “become a great influence in many lives.” His goal was simply to meet as many people as he could.
What a great goal! I’ve thought about that so many times. What if your goal was to just get to know as many people as you can and try (as much as possible) to become friends with them all? That doesn’t require a certain level of prestige or success. It implies being kind and talking to people. That’s it.
Becoming an author has provided opportunities to meet so many people, and make friends I never would have otherwise met. Whether anything of so-called “success” comes out of it all, I can already say it’s been wonderful to meet so many wonderful people and get a small taste of who they are.
That’s why I try to think of every author event as simply a social event. People are really cool. Even if–and maybe especially if they have different views than me. Hearing others talk about what matters to them is so motivating and fun. It worked great at the signing, and it worked great at my launch party. Then, if they ask about me or my book, I try hard to focus on the stuff I’m passionate about, because it was passion that got me to write the book, and people want to sense that passion while reading. But that’s only if someone asks me–I don’t throw it at them. Most people I converse with end up asking sooner or later. I’m still new at this, so I can’t say it’s done wonders for me, but it has helped loosen me up in situations that might otherwise feel awkward or unnatural.
So if you are like me, and have trouble pushing your product, try simply socializing at author events, and see what happens. You may find it quite enjoyable. More likely than not, those who visit with you will want to know more about what you have once they feel your genuine interest in them. But if they don’t, it’s okay–you met someone new and had a great time talking with them.
After all, in the end it really is about people, isn’t it?