"Finding the proper key, that's the trick of them.
Everywhere another door."
--Richard Maltby Jr. & David Shire, "Doors" (Closer than Ever)
Last Friday, I got to do perhaps the most unique author event I've done so far. Capitalizing on the adult coloring craze, the library near my parents' home in Cinnaminson, NJ has started a monthly event called "Colorful Conversations." It's an emerging program, drawing (no pun intended) first timers like me along with repeat visitors and offering the librarian who came up with it lots of opportunities to experiment with content. The coloring happens at every session; what happens surrounding it changes from month to month.
This event, like so many others I've done, met my primary qualification: it had the potential to be fun.
And it delivered.
As the featured guest, I spoke briefly about the stories behind my books (a topic I selected) and then I got to color, too, as we all chatted, first about books and writing and then about whatever came up. It was low-key (okay, it helped that my family made up half the audience) and I got to introduce my work to a whole new audience.
Like it or not (and many don't), authors have to promote their work. And, since most of us lack the money, resources and dedicated promotion time of, say, John Grisham or James Patterson, finding a way to get our books out there that goes beyond screaming, "Buy my book!" from the rooftops can be a challenge. And, since screaming, "Buy my book!" from the rooftops is incredibly annoying and tends to drive people away, we need to find better avenues. We need to do what we do best: get creative.
I'm one of the lucky ones. I enjoy promotion. But, that's mostly because I've decided that if an event doesn't have the potential to be fun, I'm not doing it. When I'm not having a good time, my audience isn't either. Fun events don't guarantee sales, but they create connections, and, if we're really lucky, wonderful memories as well.
So, the next time you see an author at a bookstore or event, smile at her. If you're really brave, go up and say hello. Ask him about his book. If you start to feel overwhelmed by a sales pitch, steer the conversation back to process -- how long it took to write the book, which character was most fun to write (if it's a novel), whose books serve as inspirations. Just chat. Although we'll appreciate it if you buy a book, there's no law that says striking up a conversation with an author means you're required to make a purchase.
Just have fun. And, if the book sounds good, maybe tell a friend about it.