Tuesday, September 09, 2008
PURPOSELY SAID - Dr. Linda F. Beed
Do You See What They See?
By Dr. Linda F. Beed
Growing up I was what my peers called an ‘I Spy’. According to my elders, I was too grown for my own good and my hard head was going to earn me a soft behind (whuppin’).
Since getting into grown folks business and that of those bigger than me could be painful, I developed a systematic way of getting the information I needed.
That system worked well. It garnered information from the most unlikely places and satisfied my need to know. Delighted at what I could learn, I developed my super-sleuth skills with intensity. Once I discovered purpose and accepted who I really am, it was easy for me to understand that my adolescent nosiness was the seedling of my research gene.
As I have sought to educate myself in this literary profession, my zeal for research has definitely been an asset. My observant nature causes me to study people and situations. Venturing out to conferences and book signing events to support peers opened my eyes as to what an author should be prepared for, how they should seek to engage, entertain and above all, respect those who have come out to see them. My observations have been carefully documented and revisited for the sake of encouragement; understanding and determination not to duplicate what would be offensive to the buying and reading public and people in general.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Expect the unexpected. There is no magic formula that says:
• Your books will arrive on time or at all
• Your host will be as personable as they were in their e-mails or telephone conversations
• The event venue is not a hole-in-the-wall in an unsavory part of town
• Only a handful of people, or maybe one or no one will attend the event
This list could go on forever, but I believe you understand the point I’ve made here.
HOW TO ENGAGE AND ENTERTAIN THE PEOPLE
I’ve been told I have to act right so I’ll reign in what I really want to say here. Well maybe.
People have taken time out of their schedule to support you, now is the time to act like you have some home-training. So here we go.
• I don’t care how many books you have sold—leave the diva-tude in your purse. There is nothing worse than an author acting as if they truly believe every word of the press release they wrote about themselves.
• Speak before being spoken to. For the moment, the book venue is YOUR house. People will remember how you treated them.
• Smile and act like you’re glad to see your readers. Before you launch into your presentation take the time to ask about them. Maybe even engage them with some type of an icebreaker.
RESPECT YOUR CURRENT AND POTENTIAL READERS
Given our personalities and the amount of medication or lack thereof, we may have an off day. Don’t take it out on those who are supporting you and those who decided to give you a try.
Book tours and conferences can be draining. On paper it sounds really glamorous. It can be, but make no mistake, much time and effort is expended prior to going on the road and definitely while you’re on the road. Word of mouth has great potential to build or malign your reputation. We should strive to be courteous in all situations.
• If only one or two or three people come to the event show them that you appreciate their presence. I was part of an event that had the potential for approximately fifty guests. Only twenty arrived. Instead of lamenting the numbers I turned it into a coup for those who came. The extra gifts I had for the anticipated crowd were used to fill their goody bags as we played some word games and had impromptu orations from some of the not-so-shy in the group.
• Do not be selective. In venues such as expos and conferences, people really are watching you. One of the worse examples of snobbery I witnessed caused me to gasp aloud, and I’m not easily shocked. I observed an author’s disinterest in two young readers who initially were beside themselves to meet them. Not only did they not greet the duo, they did not even feign a passing interest in their questions. What they did do was thrust the book at them and quote the retail price. To my surprise the book was thrown at the author with a loud declaration of “I will never read another book you write no matter how good people say it is.” Yikes!!!!!!!!!
• Fulfill your obligation to the host
If you accept an engagement, regardless of how tired you are you should keep your word.
a. Do not cancel at the last minute when there is no emergency. Your host has promoted your appearance and therefore your literary career, do the same for them.
b. If you have consented to speak and sign, then do it. Do not tell the crowd you’re too tired to keep your word.
The bottom line is this—We only have one name. It is up to us to determine what it will stand for.
Until next time, remember—Purposely Said words can destroy or create a life. - Linda!
Dr. Linda Beed is an educator, speaker, children’s minister and author of Business Unusual and co-moderator of BWChristianLit an online writing and mentor group. She is also review editor for KDgospel Media Magazine.
You can find her on the web at:
http://www.lindabeed.com/ / MySpace / On Assignment Reviews/R U Living On
- I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.
I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.
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