Hi, SEers! It’s “Mae Day” on Story Empire. I want to thank you for joining me for a post about author presentations. I’ve started doing a few in my area, and hope to do more in the future. The small number of invitations I’ve received thus far have come through networking. Someone heard me speak to Group A, recommended me to Group B, who recommended me to Group C. I’ve now reached the point where I’d like to start seeking out organizations, rather than waiting for invitations. It’s a whole new level of work and promotion but it is rewarding.
This was my most recent event. The venue did the web ad on the left. Isn’t it fabulous?
I’m by no means an expert—still a newbie—and, because I’m an introvert, I get extremely nervous before an event. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members I asked to say prayers that I didn’t screw up.
The event was held at a local historical society in my area. The venue was fabulous. An old home built in the 1800s, supposedly haunted. Thankfully, no ghosts appeared, but the event was sold out. No pressure, right?
Once again, I came prepared with swag bags.
Each bag contained:
A postcard for each of my books (teaser photo, tag and book cover on the front, blurb and my website on back)
An author bookmark
Two business cards
Several chocolate treats
An individually wrapped packet of tea (I chose lavender and Prince of Wales).
I also added something new I hadn’t done before, including a slip of paper with two lines—one for a name, the other for an email address. During the presentation, I mentioned my newsletter and invited people to sign up by turning the paper in at the end. I came prepared with a vintage box for people to drop them in. And because I worried not everyone would have a pen, I bought a box of stick pens ahead of time (60 for $5-something) and included a pen in each bag.
Did everyone sign up? No.
Did everyone buy books? No.
But based on the amount of books I sold, I made approximately $100 per hour. I was happy. I can’t live on that, but I made connections, had a blast, and got my name out in the community. Not a bad day of book sales.
In addition the venue was utterly gorgeous. Who wouldn’t want to speak here:
Every time I do one of these events, I learn and improve. This time around, in addition to my swag bags, I brought two 11″ x 17″ portfolios to illustrate my talking points. I had a total of 20 photographs I used throughout the presentation. If you haven’t done a presentation before, below are a few points I found helpful.
I spoke for approximately 50-60 minutes, broken out in three segments, starting with an introduction about myself. I followed that with two folktales from my home state, then focused the bulk of the presentation on the Mothman. I used visual photographs to illustrate key points throughout the presentation. The audience loved them! I keep the photos in two separate portfolios purchased off Amazon for approximately $27.00 each. Now, the presentation is ready to use over and over again. The different business cards in the front allowed me to keep track of which came first and which was second.
These will also stand on a tabletop or easel, but I preferred to hold them and move around to the different tables at the event.
KNOW YOUR MATERIAL
I’ve written three fictional books on the Mothman (my Point Pleasant Series) and can talk for hours about the legend. But I didn’t want to stutter, or hop from point to point without fluid logic. I spent several days cobbling material together in a time line that made sense, wrote a speech, then practiced my delivery over and over. Again and again.
Did I veer from it? You bet. Ad-libbing is part of making a presentation seem natural. I encouraged audience participation with leading questions. I added humor and asides in several spots that brought laughter (thank the stars). Most importantly, I knew my material. Even when I veered off course, I instinctively knew what came next. I’d drilled it into my head, and had photo prompts to remind me.
The prep paid off. After the presentation, I had multiple people tell me how much they enjoyed it. Three separate individuals told me I was “an amazing storyteller.” Consider me gobsmacked! Another told me she was a teacher and was riveted by my presentation. She liked that I didn’t stumble around using “um” or “uh” (that comes from practicing delivery to eliminate fumbling pauses). She told me I had an amazing voice and could listen to me “talk all day.” Stunned the heck out of me, especially because I was worried about losing my voice during the presentation. Talk about prayers being answered!
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
My presentation was for an historical society. I didn’t know what age/gender mix I was going to have—turns out I had everyone from teens to seniors, men and women both—but I knew they had an interest in history. Fortunately, folklore and urban legends fit perfectly into that niche.
I really have to applaud the organizers of the event who outdid themselves—not only for the amazing tea and menu, but also on the themed decorations. There were “moths” everywhere, framed photos of the Mothman on the walls, black leafless trees on the tables, even tiny Mothman figures sticking up from delectable cookies.
Would I do this again? Absolutely.
Will I be nervous again? Absolutely.
Will I ask for prayers again? Absolutely! Absolutely!
But I hope the more experience I gain, the easier these will become. If you have an opportunity, I encourage you to step up to the plate and give it a go. As an added bonus, I was able to send photos to my publisher for use in publicity. I closed the presentation with this photo of me and “my guy.” 🙂
Locally, I’m hoping this event will spur another as the last one did. Once I finish with my current book deadline, I may even start searching for new venues and organizations that feature guest speakers. Just, nothing too large—yet. 🙂
What are your thoughts about these types of presentations? Have you done any? Would you if the opportunity arose? I know a few followers of this blog who do these as a matter of routine. For myself, I hope they become easier with time.
Whatever your experience (or non-experience), I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Ready, set, go!