by Megan Haskell
At the end of the month, I’ll be participating in an author reading and book signing at A Stones Throw Winery in San Juan Capistrano. As I prepare for the event, I thought it would be a good time to share my top tips for surviving an outdoor event. So here you go.
1. Wear a hat.
If you’re as fair skinned as I am, outdoor events can be brutal. A good wide-brimmed straw hat can be a savior. Not only does it keep the sun off your face and sweat out of your eyes, it’s also a perfect disguise for the nerves.
2. Bring swag.
People love freebies. Bookmarks, pens, postcards, whatever you’ve got, they’ll take it. Draw them in. Hook them. Then get them to sign up for your mailing list.
3. Don’t forget a mailing list sign-up sheet.
A live event is a perfect place to get people interested in your work. If you’re doing a reading, it’s even easier. But no matter what, when somebody picks up your swag, you can ask what they like to read. Give your elevator pitch or logline. Sell a book if you can, but get an email on your list. Build a relationship and develop a true fan for life.
4. Apply sunblock. Liberally.
Did I mention I’m pasty? I should probably own stock in a sunblock company.
5. Choose your words wisely.
When doing a reading, be careful which scene you choose to read. Pick something with conflict and drama. End on a hook. Engage your audience. Make them want to talk to you afterward. Then see #2 and #3.
6. Carry the essentials.
Obviously, don’t forget to bring books for sale and a pen for signing, plus the swag we talked about earlier. But there are plenty of other things you should bring along. Table decorations and display stands are a good start. You also want to make sure you offer as many ways to take peoples money as possible. By that, I mean figure out a way to take cash or credit. Don’t leave someone empty handed because (like me) they don’t carry cash. I use the Square reader for taking credit card payments, but I think PayPal offers a similar service. Remember the extra cash for change, too!
7. Consider an umbrella or an easy-up.
Shade is good. Even if you know the layout of the event, you might not know exactly where the sun is going to be, and when. If you have access to a pop-up tent or easy-up, it’s a great idea to bring it along. Also…see #1 & #4.
8. Bribe a friend to come along with you.
If nothing else, having someone there for support can calm your nerves and make socializing a little easier, especially for us introverts. But it’s even better to bribe them to work the table for you during the reading or take care of the financial transactions while you’re signing. In my experience, good bribes include wine and chocolate.
When you’re doing a reading, your throat is going to dry out and you’ll get hoarse. Make sure you have water on hand. Take a few sips before you start, then every couple of pages to keep the reading smooth and sonorous.
10. Have Fun!
Whatever you do, have a good time! Let the praise flow over and through you as you interact with fans. Smile, shake hands, and laugh. You’ll be great!
If you’re free Sunday afternoon, August 27th, from 2 – 5pm, I hope you’ll join me and award-winning thriller author Matt Coyle at A Stone’s Throw Winery in San Juan Capistrano. Not only will we both be reading, selling, and signing, Greta will be singing in her duo Eclectic Blends, the wine will be flowing, and there will even be food trucks on site if you need to nosh.
Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! I’m the author of the Amazon best selling series,The Sanyare Chronicles, and Program Director of O.C. Writers. You can find me on my website at www.meganhaskell.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
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