I attended an informative and entertaining workshop this week, “How to Book and Present an Author’s Program,” which was arranged by the Southern California Chapter of the Mystery Writers Association. The evening was put together by the Speakers Bureau, specifically by the talented Naomi Hirahara, who recently won an Edgar Award for her novel, SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN.
There was a great panel of speakers, including:
- Joan Hansen, who organizes fantastic literary events in Orange County
- Noel Alumit, author of TALKING TO THE MOON and facilitator of bookevents for Skylight Books
- Jorge Ribeiro, a Toastmaster International division governor and instructor of English at Cal State L.A. and Pasadena City College
After the panel presented tips and information about author’s programs, Patricia Smiley, who is the author of the Tucker Sinclair series (FALSE PROFITS), gave us a near-perfect demonstration of how to talk about one’s work in front of an audience. Darrell James, who won Honorable Mention in the 2006 Reader Views Literary Awards for BODY COUNT: A KILLER COLLECTION!, read from one of his works.
As someone who is about to launch a book in October, DYING TO BE THIN, I took away some valuable tips about making author’s presentations. Following are a few of them:
- Work with your contact ahead of the event to learn about the format, seating arrangements, and other logistics.
- Arrive early to get a sense of the venue.
- At the beginning of your presentation, acknowledge your host (this can be a library, bookstore, or conference).
- Personalize your presentation with anecdotes, and use humor as much as possible.
- Avoid “Um’s.”
- If you get nervous in front of an audience (and don’t we all!), use a lectern to keep your hands steady. If one is not available, consider investing in a portable music stand to take with you to presentations.
- Make eye contact with your audience.
- Come up with a “paper strategy” to avoid fumbling with notes.
And speaking of acknowledging one’s venue, many thanks to the Palms – Rancho Park Library and its gracious librarian, Maggie Johnson, for hosting us!
What about you? Do you have any special things you do to prepare for a successful author's event?