Monday, November 23, 2009

The Wild World of Author Visits

With my book launching in a few months I’ll all keen to get out in the world and do some presentations as a debut YA author. Earlier this year I did a few low key school visits, a public library teen book club visit and an online chat with teen readers at TeenRC. Those first dips in the author circuit pool will hopefully come in handy. But the thing is – I don’t want to be one of those authors.

If you’ve ever sat in on an author visit that’s going south – you know the ones I’m talking about - the author who never quite connects with his/her audience (however small or large). There’s a distance, a pretension that comes through loud and clear and no amount of high wattage smiles or scripted jokes can mask it.

Working in school and public libraries, I’ve been on the organizational side of an author visit – I know the value of a grounded author, one who is approachable, stays generally on topic and can put the crowd at ease with the appropriate level of goofiness or dramatic intensity as the occasion warrants.

I’ve seen authors choke at school visits (not physically, but you know what I mean) – they’re just too afraid to be silly, to be kid-friendly, to make mistakes. And then I’ve witnessed a whole gym full of kids from kindergarten to grade six absolutely enthralled at the retelling of childhood foibles that later became the basis of a writer's work. (I’m speaking here of Canadian author, Sigmund Brouwer, who wowed students and staff during an hour-long presentation we’ll not soon forget - if you ever get the chance to hear him speak....jump on it!).

So here’s to a debut year of author bookings, a year of goofing around, accidentally offending people (I tend to do that), of getting a few things right and a whole bunch of stuff wrong. If any of you have tips for the newbie, I’m all ears.


Tami Klockau said...

Awesome post, Tracy. I love when authors engage the audience. I think one of my favorite YA signings was Melissa Marr. She talked with the group, kept it fun and light. She gave items away and let us ask questions. Since she has already written three books from her series, she didn't sit and read from it. We were there because we liked her books, so she told stories that weren't between the binding of her books. More about the process and creation of the world, instead of reading straight from it. I loved it!

Judith Graves said...

Hey Tami - you know I'm still so grateful you got me that signed copy of Wicked Lovely, right? ;)

Speaking of autographs - did the Bryan Trottier one arrive yet?

Tami Klockau said...

It did! Thank you so much! I still have to make it to the post office! It's been a little crazy with Thanksgiving and NaNo. Definitely this week.