Monday, September 13, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom - How to Do a Book Signing

This post originally appeared at The Romance Studio Blog.

I'll be appearing at The Baltimore Book Festival on September 25th at 6:30 p.m. and I admit, I'm a bit excited. Appearing at a book festival makes me sound like such a serious, heavy-weight AUTHOR with a capital A, not just a part-time novelist. But I'm also kind of nervous. I'll be appearing with other members of the Maryland Romance Writers chapter of RWA and we'll be having a panel discussion about the state of contemporary romance. Of course, first I have to read from one of my works for about twenty minutes.

I felt kind of sick when they told me that. I can't imagine they really want me to read out loud from one of my own books for that length of time. Geez, that sounds like about 200 years in real time. Trying to choose a scene that will be interesting and entertaining without being incoherent when taken out of context will be quite a chore. And then I'll have to decide how to read it. Should I go for a straight reading in my own Lucy Van Pelt voice? Really, the resemblance is uncanny.

Somehow, I don't think me reading out loud in my Lucy voice will convey the essence of sexy, sophisticated romance and suspense I'm going for. Really, the ideal strategy would be to hire someone else to go to the festival and pretend to be me. Preferably a Shakespearean actress.

After the reading, there'll be a signing. I don't do very many book signings - unless you're already a huge name in fiction, it's rare to attract a large crowd. Most bookstore patrons try to avoid authors they don't know who are sitting in front of piles of books. The ones who don't avoid you tend to say perplexing things like, "Do you make a lot of money?" Or "Do you know Stephen King?" or "Do you know where the bathrooms are?"

The best way to do a reading or a book signing is to have a gimmick. I know one suspense author who is a former cop. He puts a police siren on the table and surrounds it with yellow caution tape so that it looks like a crime scene. People flock to the area out of morbid curiosity. My good friend Ann Whitaker has two adorable poodles in her book Dog Nanny, and two adorable poodles in real life. So she takes the dogs to signings with her. Audiences just love that. I may put a dog in my next book just so I can bring one with me to my signings. I have a cat, but I don't think he'd travel quite as well.

Here is how you DON'T want your book signing to go:

I hope lots of you will come out to The Baltimore Book Festival, but I hope you'll keep your shoes on your feet and your eggs at home!

Lynn Reynolds is the author of "chick noir" suspense novel Thirty-Nine Again, which RT Book Reviews called "a first-class mystery and a first-class read." Her next book, Love, Capri Style, is a sun-drenched, fun-filled contemporary romance set on the island of Capri. It should be coming out any day now, as soon as the publisher finds those lost galleys. Sigh. . .

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