Bookstore events are an invaluable way for authors to connect with their readers: both the customers who attend the event and the booksellers who help run them. A dynamic, engaging reading or discussion can turn a hesitant reader into a lifelong fan. You never know who will be in the audience: a journalist who wants to interview you, a book blogger who ends up writing about your book for a popular website, a woman who invites you to read in another reading series she runs. An event is one of the best ways to promote your book. --Michele Filgate, writer and former book store events coordinator.
Since I started working at Porter Square Books in 2004 I have seen hundreds of author events. Some were great, others painful, and most, somewhere in the middle. Perhaps the most frustrating of the events were those in which a brilliant author, read from their brilliant book in a boring, monotonous voice. Here was this great book that I wanted readers to discover, fall in love with, and, of course, buy from the store and yet none of the audience could hear the brilliance over the droning of the author. Furthermore, these authors (and their publishers) were spending the time, effort, and money, to visit stores, but their actual performances didn’t do much at all to create sales for their books.
I don’t remember which event in particular it was, but after such an event, it struck me how little the author needed to do to dramatically improve their performance. A different perspective, a few core principles, and some practice would be enough to transform those monotonous readings into performances that would actually sell books. “Someone should coach these authors on performing in bookstores,” I thought. After hosting and seeing so many events, performing in various venues from dorm rooms, to bars, to auditoriums packed with high school students, and going on my own book tour, I eventually realized that “someone” could be me.
I started Better Book Tour to give authors the tools they need to make the most of their bookstore events. Better Book Tour offers three services: hour-long one-on-one workshops, feedback on performance samples, and a complete guide to performing at bookstore events. There is an element of talent in performance, but I truly believe that a small investment in time and education, will help make any author an engaging performer who makes the most of their bookstore events.
For even more details and background, check out my interview with Melville House Press.