Just yesterday, I did my first book talk (in a bookstore) EVER. For first-time authors, doing a book talk can be utterly terrifying, and many things can go wrong. So here’s what I have learnt, and hopefully, it’ll be useful to you when you plan for your book talk or Meet-The-Author sessions in a bookstore in future.
My Top 10 Tips:
#1: Ensure you have your friends come by to ‘fill up’ those seats that have been prepared!
There will usually be about 10 foldable plastic chairs provided by Kinokuniya. Ensure you have invited enough friends to come by. Some may fall ill, forget to turn up, or have other commitments on the day itself, so ensure you get the word out to as many people as possible. Or you’ll find yourself speaking to some empty plastic chairs during your session. 😉
#2: Do something to attract the ‘crowd’ in Kinokuniya
Before my session began, a flipchart stand had been set up (because of my request), and I wrote on it “How To Make $MONEY$ From BLOGGING”. It was a surefire way to get some eyeballs, and have some people hang around to wait for me to share about these money-making ways.
At some point during my session, I realized the entire area was packed… so many people were just standing around listening to me. It was indeed a “WOW” moment.
I did my ‘research’ by attending a prior Meet-The-Author session held by a novelist. She had friends come sing Peranakan songs, and another friend prepare achar and pineapple tarts. I thought it was a fantastic idea! You can think along those lines and hand out balloons to children or food to the bookstore patrons (or something) to have them come over and hear you speak. 😉
#3: Ensure your ‘host’ or ’emcee’ turns up. My ’emcee’ turned up late – I have no idea what time he arrived, but it was later than the time we had agreed upon. So I got another friend to take over the emcee-ing role and we went ahead with the session.
Send a car for your emcee or meet the person for lunch prior to the session or just find someone reliable.
#4: Have a list of questions for your emcee to ask you, as the usual ‘bookstore crowd’ is unlikely to volunteer their questions during Q&A. So have your emcee ask you some questions first.
#5: Get an emcee who can ‘warm up’ the crowd. Unlike the people you meet at a party, or networking event, the people in a bookstore are usually rather reserved, content to go about their own business or bury their nose in a book, so find someone adept at making people laugh and get ready for a good time.
#6: Expect that something unexpected could happen.
A lady suddenly began speaking rather loudly at the back, to my horror. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but a friend later told me that she was upset someone was taking photos during my session and apparently blocking her view, so she was scolding him.
Erm… people in Singapore are definitely not an emotionless bunch. They are actually very stressed up. So be prepared to handle some unexpected situations. 😀
#7: You don’t have to worry about bringing stationery.
Kinokuniya provided everything from flipchart markers to pens for my autograph-signing session.
Just come prepared with something to share.
#8: The bookstore manager will present you with a token of their appreciation for your time. So do not be taken by surprise.
I’d already known it’ll happen so I had a gift ready for her and her staff. 🙂
Whatever you do, make sure you turn up for the session, because the bookstore has already done some ‘marketing’ about your event! An Internet Marketer, whose book was launched about the same time as mine (his book cover has a plane in it. You know who) and I was told that he had not turned up at his session because he had other money-making plans elsewhere. It’ll probably be tough if he wants to speak at Kino again in future. 😉
#9: Attend another author’s book talk or Meet-The-Author session (at the same venue) to understand the event flow and learn about crowd management, how to engage your audience, etc.
#10: Nothing can substitute practice and being prepared.
Do a visualization exercise: ‘run through’ the whole session in your head. Visualize how it will all pan out.
Come prepared to share something of value to your audience. Some of them may have never heard of you or your new book. So go ‘wow’ them! 🙂
Good Luck, my fellow author! 🙂