OK, so I wasn’t quite finished. I *thought* I was, but the more I thought about it–because I’m right in the middle of Book Signing Season here–the more ideas I have about this. So here’s another one that might be useful~~
If you’re anything like I am and really find it difficult to sit for a couple hours not doing much of anything, you might want to think about setting up signings that aren’t really signings but are talks, or maybe demos (I mentioned that last time).
There are all kinds of talks you might consider, discussing the possibilities with your host to figure out what would work best for the amount of time you have, the number of people who might show up, and the size and lay-out of the space. Sometimes it just won’t work–there’s not enough space, it’s too noisy, there’s no one time when enough people would be present to make it worth while.
I’ve done short talks and long ones, panel discussions and Q&A. There are other possibilities, as well–do some creative thinking and see what you can come up with. If your book is about crafting for profit, think about a presentation that offers financial advice–maybe you know someone who’s an expert who would be happy to work with you to do that. If your book is about making jewelry, perhaps a demo would work well.
~~Short talks–I’ve done these at Stamp Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, and at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina. Some people like to read from their books, and this is fine. I like to talk, so I’d much rather tell what the book is about and then answer questions. What are your strengths? What things would you rather avoid? If being put on the spot by people asking for details makes you quake, then a more structured talk might work better for you.
~~Longer talks. I did a presentation about Living the Creative Life at the Google offices in Santa Monica, California, which they recorded and uploaded here. They have all kinds of people come to various of their offices–authors, celebrities, politicians. For something like this, you’re going to want to do more preparation–you don’t want to run out of things to say when there’s still half an hour to go. Make some notes. Maybe a PowerPoint (or equivalent) presentation–think of the things they do at the TED talks, with visuals to keep your audience interested.
Maybe you want to do practice videos, where you go through the talk in front of a video camera and watch yourself (yikes!) to adjust your voice–speed, pacing, volume, etc.
~~Panel discussions–these are my favorites. I’ve done these at TenSeconds Studio in Ft. Worth, with Michael DeMeng and James Michael Starr for Living the Creative Life, for the Book Artists Guild in Santa Fe, with Gail Reike, also for Living the Creative Life, and at The Ink Pad in New York City with Wendy Hale Davis and Melanie Testa, for Creative Time and Space.
Although Melly wasn’t one of the contributors, I knew she’d fit right in, talking about her fabulous journal and how she uses it in her work, and she generously agreed to join us. If you’re going to be somewhere with any of the contributors to your book or with people who would fit in perfectly, I heartily recommend setting up a panel discussion. You can narrow the focus to something specific and let everyone know ahead of time what you’re going to talk about. Give everyone time to introduce themselves and tell what they do. Then have them address the topic and open it up for questions. At several of these, the questions could have gone of for hours–people were excited and enthusiastic and thrilled to have a chance to talk to other people about the things that matter to them.
In short, there are all kinds of ways to personalize your book signing. At its core, it’s about getting people to buy your books, sure. But it can be so much more–entertaining, informative, fascinating. So when someone asks if you’d like to do a signing, think about all the ways you can make it fun for everyone involved. Good luck!
(I’ll let you know if I think of anything else~~)
Ricë also blog at The Voodoo Cafe.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS