After I realized I am coming up on my sixth year as a published author, I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing on how it all began. I wish that the green newbie I was could have spoken with me now so I could have saved us both a lot of heartache, money and time. Since a time travel app isn’t available yet, I’m doing the next best thing—interviewing my 2011 self.
2017 Angela—(flashing back) Angela, you just indie published your first book. How do you feel? Describe those first moments when you finally held End of Mae in your hands. What were the thoughts going through the moment you saw your first, physical copy of your book?
2011 Angela—Oh my goodness, 2017 Angela! It feels amazing! As soon as the box arrived I opened it and held my book—my book!—in my hands. My heart was racing. It was such a fulfilling moment. I’d waited my whole life for this.
Afterwards I took a walk. I know it’s silly, but I kind of expected people to look at me different. I was certainly glowing on the inside. How could no one notice it as I walked by? My book is available on Amazon. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the royalties to roll in.
2017 Angela—(laughing) I know a lot of authors feel like the hard work is finished when they finally get their book on Amazon’s shelves, but truthfully, the real work is about to begin with marketing, author branding, social media and book signings. In fact, I believe you just had your first book signing. Can you tell me what that was like?
2011 Angela—Oh, well, it was good, I guess. I participated in the FWB Art Walk and I sold two books total. I probably could have sold more but I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone. I really felt stressed and shy. As soon as they’d approach my table, I would intently look at my phone so they wouldn’t talk to me.
In fact, one of the books sold while I had walked away from the table. My husband sold and signed it for me. He signed it in his name, of course, for a little girl who fell in love with his Aussi accent. I wish I knew how to engage people about my work better.
2017 Angela—You aren’t alone. Many authors feel awkward when it comes to public speaking, and signing books books is just one-on-one public speaking. Six years ago I was in the same place as you—reluctant to engage—and it did nothing positive for my books sales.
I had to change the way I handled public appearances, and it wasn’t easy. I started doing things to make me feel more comfortable around people. Anything can be learned with practice and time. Many, many poetry open mics and book signings later, I’ve learned a few tricks, like folding origami during signings. It’s an ice breaker, doesn’t communicate that I’m too busy to talk and helps me avoid staring too hopefully at people walking by.
You can try anything that keeps your hands busy but your attention free to engage—draw pictures, knit, whittle—and bonus points if it can be something that ties into you as the author. My grandmother is Okinawan, and I learned Origami from her and my mother.
But this interview is about you, 2011 Angela. Tell me what you are doing to market yourself as an indie author? What works best for you?
2011 Angela—Oh, I don’t really do a lot of effective marketing yet. It really comes back to that awkward feeling I have when I talk about my work. We are raised that we should be modest and not boast, so how do I tell people about my book? Maybe with a few more years under my belt that will change and I’ll be more confident. Time will tell.
2017 Angela—It certainly well. That’s all I have time for today, but I certainly wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors, writing and otherwise. I hope to talk to you again soon, and thanks for sharing with us what it’s like to be a brand new author.