I got a good lesson in how a signing ought to go today from Janice Hamrick, a fellow mystery writer I met at Malice Domestic this year. She's the winner of the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books competition for 2010, which means she got her book published by Minotaur! Which means it's an awesome book. I'm not very far into it, having just purchased it a few hours ago, but the beginning drew me right in. It's called DEATH ON TOUR and links can be found on her webpage, http://janicehamrick.com/index.html.
Some of the readers here may be giving talks at signings, but some may be wondering how in the heck they'll do it when the time comes. I'm one of the latter.
What I'm going to hold up as an example here is her presentation. Her launch party was at Book People at noon on Sunday, the 29th. Crackers and cheese, cookies, and wine were on a sideboard, which was a nice touch. They were convenient to munch on while we waited in the signing line at the end.
Here's how it should be done! Janice ignored the podium and came to stand directly in front of the audience, who filled the folding chairs, some having to stand in the back. She has a friendly, relaxed way of speaking and doesn't use any notes.
She started off telling about herself, a bit about her childhood in Kansas and some funny tornado stories (yes, that can be done). She related moving from Kansas to Austin, working as a technical writer, and her love of travel. Then she got to the trip she took to Egypt and how the tour gave her so many ideas for a mystery. She came home bursting with them and began to write immediately, finishing in nine months. Then she told about submitting, rejections, and winning the contest that got her published. Smooth transitions and smooth delivery. She connects with the audience, smiles at them, and gets smiles back.
That's the way to do it, folks! I wish I'd taped it. Here's a picture I took the other night of Janice with her display at the same bookstore.
Of course, much as I study her, I don't think I can speak without notes in a million years. Will have to take drugs to relax enough to stand up without shaking, and will probably need to prop myself with a podium. And I hope, when the time comes, I can think of as many witty and engaging things to say as Janice did, but I wouldn't put real money on that bet. I have something to aim for, though.
I'm having a signing, by the way, this Friday, June 3rd, at Hill Country Bookstore on the square in Georgetown, 719 South Main Street, during the First Friday (shops open late, music, food, etc.) My signing is a drop in/drop out thing from 5-8, so I don't have to give a speech. (whew). Wine and beer are furnished by the store, but I'm going to add chocolate. Cookies if I get a chance. But at least chocolate!