Saturday, November 12, 2016

Selling Books, One-on-One

Scott D Parker

Last Saturday, I conducted my first author talk/reading. I was one of three featured artist for the event, the others being my wife, Vanessa, and her jewelry art, and JZ Selewach and her encaustic artwork.

Here’s a picture that Yolanda Pope, good friend of the SugarLand Art Center and Gallery, took and sent to me. Frankly, it looks a little like I’m conducting some sort of orchestra or trying to describe just how big a fish I caught. I think many folks talk with their hands and I am certainly in that category.

Going into the author talk, I determine to do a combination of biography and reading. Basically, I told my story for the audience. All but a few knew nothing about me going in, so I wanted to introduce myself, explain how I got there, the trials and tribulations of writing stories and publishing them, and talk about ULTERIOR OBJECTIVES, the new novel published this month.

Back in 2011, I did something I had never done before: I acted in a play. I followed that up the next couple of years with other plays, all of which were at church. The point is that I learned that I have a comfort level when talking in front of people. I never knew I had that, but it has proven to be a good trait to have not only as a professional fiction writer but also in my day job as a technical writer. All of this is to say I felt pretty comfortable giving the talk last Saturday. True, the first couple of minutes were a little nervous because, let’s be honest, everyone has a little bit of stage fright, but I settled in quickly and, from what I could tell, made a good presentation. Then I did a short reading and, almost as soon as it started, it was over.

Then I got the thrill that all writers enjoy which is to sign of my books that had just sold. I talked to every person that wanted to talk to me, whether it they wanted to ask me additional questions about the writing process or, in the case of a fellow gallery member, how to actually go about writing her own book. All in all it was a fantastic experience.

For the first time, I realized that personal contact, the one-on-one experience, can be a key factor in convincing future readers to try me out as a writer. I know that this concept is blindingly obvious for other writers ahead of me in this profession, but this was the first time for me. Something clicked. It was very empowering, and I hope to have many occasions to do it again in the future.

How about y’all other veteran writers? Have y’all had success with author events? How about in non-traditional events, where traditional means bookstores or libraries?

1 comment:

Holly West said...

Hey Scott,

Glad to hear your first event went well! I've never participated in one by myself, so kudos to you. Through readings and moderating and participating on panels, I've gained a bit of confidence in my public speaking, but there's always that niggling fear of failure in the background. I like to think it keeps me on my toes.

And your wife's jewelry is lovely!