Today's topic came by request from Taurean Watkins after last week's Writer Wednesday post about enthusiasm. Taurean wanted some tips for how to handle author events if you are shy or if you get extremely nervous talking about your books. So, here are my tips for you all.
If you get nervous talking about your own books or approaching potential readers, bring a friend or family member along who has read your book and is willing to talk you up. The advantage of doing this is that someone else is enthusiastically promoting you and your work, so you won't come off as the author who loves to talk about him/herself. This person can greet people as they come into the store, library, or wherever you are holding your event. They can invite people to come meet you and check out your books.
Now, what do you do when people come up to you if you're shy or nervous? If you're hands shake, then I suggest holding something. Got a stack of business cards, bookmarks, or other SWAG? (You should!) Hold it and hand the SWAG to whoever stops by your table. That will give your hands something to do to keep from shaking and to keep you from fidgeting.
Next, ask people what kind of books they like to read. This takes the focus off you and gets the potential reader talking. Feel free to discuss books you love, too. It doesn't and shouldn't just be about your book that you're selling. Make a connection and have a real conversation. That should put you more at ease and get you talking. Don't like talking about your book and feeling like a salesman? That's fine. Encourage people to pick up your book, to read the blurb, and to flip through the pages. Some readers prefer to read the back cover than to ask you what the book is about.
Too nervous to ask people to sign up for your newsletter/mailing list? That's fine, too. Have a sign-up sheet front and center so it's visible. Want to offer more but fear you're too shy? How about making a YouTube video ahead of time and then bringing a laptop so people can view the video? When you make a video, it's just you talking to your computer. The pressure of face-to-face interaction isn't there. But…by playing the video for people, you are giving them that interaction they want without having the in-the-moment pressure.
I hope these tips are helpful, and if you have any to add, please leave them in the comments.