How I Approach Book-Signings

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?

Why Do You Blog?

Recently I was asked the question, “Why do you blog?”

I’ve thought a lot about that.

For me, blogging is a tool to do what I’ve already been doing, better. For most of my life I’ve been doing stuff like keeping a journal, recording piano and flute improv pieces, making funny tape recordings, drawing cartoons, writing articles and stories. Now I have a place I can put it all. Not only that, but I now have a means to share it, and organize it, and broadcast it.

I suppose I’m a bit of a mutt blogger. I don’t have one subject. I’m an author, musician, dad, (wannabe) comedian, photographer, (hobby) cook, and religious fanatic. I can’t, CAN’T keep to one topic. If I had time to keep 5 or 6 blogs I would (tried it – what a joke).

I’ve fought myself on this. Everything I read says keep a FOCUS. I’ve tried and failed over and over and over. So I’ve finally given up and decided: you know what? This is me. I want my blog to be the real me. I love doing so many things. If that ruins my SEO, so be it. I didn’t start blogging for search engines. I have websites that can deal with those. My blog is me.

My hope is that I can use my blog to connect with you.

So how about you? If you have a blog, why do you do it? What’s your motivation?

Tweet, Tweet

Has anyone found a good use for Twitter yet? Maybe I’ve just been doing it wrong, or not doing it enough, but I guess I just don’t get it. Oh, well.

I get the Facebook thing – totally. It’s awesome, but Twitter? I know it’s supposed to be about listening to others and sharing thought and such, but still…

I just got Tweet Deck on my computer, which makes it super easy to update almost all of my social networds at the same time, and it tells me what all my friends and contacts are saying in their updates within seconds of the update.

How do you use your Twitter account? Do you have a way that actually works well for you?

The Incrediblenet

The Incrediblenet

Isn’t the Internet amazing? From genealogy to gardening, from movies to email – the Internet has so many resources that it has made a great impact on our day to day living. While we must make necessary precautions to avoid the evil influences that can be found on this almost unlimited source of information, the good influences are more prevalent than ever before.

At least once a month, I discover a new website that absolutely impresses me. I’m sure many of you have the same experience. So let’s share what we’re finding. What are some websites or Internet resources that have really impressed you that other readers may not yet know about?

Here are two of mine:

Pandora.com
I don’t think I’ll ever go back to ordinary radio, so long as sites like Pandora exist. Pandora is an online radio station where you create your own stations (as many different stations as you want) from your favorite songs or artists. Once you type in a band or song, it will create a station based on that style, and then find other bands of the same style. As it plays songs, you can thumb up or thumb down the song to tell Pandora if you like it or not.
No matter what kind of music you listen to, it’s there. I have an LDS station, a contemporary rock station, a Celtic station, a piano solo station, an African traditional station, a country station, a soundtrack station, an oldies station, a native American station, an a cappella station, and about half a dozen other stations. I have friends with hip-hop stations, goth stations, and oh, I almost forgot, I even created a funny station. It’s really amazing. I can listen to it all day.

http://pandora.com/

Podcasting
I’ve known about the idea of the podcast for over a year now, but only in the past few months have I discovered that podcasting is its own entire realm of social media. You can find a podcast on any subject, and thanks to feed readers (such as Google Reader – which is built into every Gmail account), you can have a collection of dozens, even hundreds of regularly updated podcasts on your favorite subjects.
So why is this such a cool thing? Consider that you are interested in pottery. A rather obscure interest in terms of the Internet, don’t you think? Well there are a number of pottery podcasts. If you have a computer in your home, you can listen to your favorite pottery podcasts and hear interviews with some of the worlds greatest potters while you are doing the dishes or exercising.
If you have any kind of Internet handheld device, you can listen to your favorite podcasts while you drive, walk, or work. I listen to podcasts often at my job, because I sit at a computer for the majority of the time. My Google reader is automatically collecting podcasts on dozens of topics that I have chosen, such as the music business, gardening, humor, fiction stories, genealogy, writing, news, photography, science, and as of today, dogs. That’s probably only half of the topics I do, and in each topic, I have numerous podcasts.
If you don’t know where to start, either Google search “podcast directories” or simply “pottery podcast” or whatever topic interests you. Google is pretty good at finding stuff like that. While your at it, start your own podcast. How? Google the words “how to make your own podcast.” It’s really easy.

So how about you? Any sites or Internet resources that have really impressed you?