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They Buy You First

July 7, 2021– We’re a week into our theme this month, all about Public Speaking for Authors! I love this topic not only because of its importance but also because of how practical it is. When it comes down to brass tacks, authors need to employ many different methods to get themselves and their work in front of their readers. Our biggest problem as authors is obscurity; if people don’t know who we are or what we’ve written, how can they possibly buy our books? Here’s the thing, people buy YOU first, then they buy your books. There’s no understating the importance of connecting with your audience, and that’s why today, we’re going to talk about in-store book signings.

You may not think that an in-store book signing has anything to do with public speaking, but you couldn’t be more off base! They go hand in hand. Every single time you’re in front of the public promoting your book in any way, shape, or form, you’re practicing the art of public speaking. Yes, you can be speaking to one person at a time or a group of people, but it’s all fish from the same kettle.

Here are three tips to help you connect with your audience at your book signing:

  1. Be authentic. There’s nothing worse than watching someone be who they’re not. Authenticity is the key to every area of our lives, and folks can see right through people who try to fake things. Don’t try to be what you think people want you to be. Be who you are, embrace your wonderful/unique qualities, and let your light shine. When at your signing, tell people what you love most about being an author, tell them what the hardest part is, tell them the challenges and triumphs you’ve overcome in your writing life. Be real.
  2. Tell your story. People love to know why you do what you do and how you got there. They like to feel like insiders with insider information. They want to know why you wrote your book and if it’s based on anyone in your real life. The more that you can give them, the more special they feel. Talk to them about what got you started as an author, which characters you connect with in your book, and what you’re working on next. EVERYTHING is about relationship building, and public speaking is a great way to do that, no matter the size of the audience.
  3. It’s all about energy. There’s a particular person who works at the Starbucks that I go to, and I only frequent that location because they’re there. Their attitude is unmatched, they love what they do, and it shows, and they are so upbeat and enthusiastic that I can’t help but feel the same way after they give me my coffee. Their happiness and energy are contagious. When you’re at your book signing, remember that people can feel your energy even before you open your mouth to speak. They can see your demeanour, they can tell if you’re in a bad mood, and they notice if you’re less than excited about being there. How would you feel if you walked into a bookstore and saw that the author was there sitting behind a table and not even lifting their head to acknowledge you because they were on their phone or reading a book to pass the time? (Yes, this is a real example, and I’ve seen it a hundred times). You would think, “What the heck are they doing here?” “Why are they wasting their time?” “Is that an employee?”  We all have crappy days, and some are worse than others, but it’s important to remember that you’re an author, and you get the opportunity to speak to people about your passion! You’ve got the best job in the world, and you’ve created something out of thin air and turned it into physical form. That sounds like magic to me!

The point is that people buy YOU first, and then they buy your book; make a connection and, quite possibly, some new friends!

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