Good morning! Is everyone as excited as me that it’s finally April? March in Toronto wasn’t as bad as it could have been (so sorry, East Coast), but I’m looking forward to some more reliable signs of spring cropping up in the next few weeks.
April is also Poetry Month, so I thought I’d write about the other part of my life—poetry! I published my first collection, Invasive Species, in October, and I’ve been busy promoting it all winter. Although the Canadian poetry world is different from the romance world in many ways, I feel like many of my experiences could apply to any writer working hard to get her book into readers’ hands and connect with her community. Here are some of the things I’ve learned in the past few months:
Public speaking can be fun
I used to get really nervous before poetry readings, but I love doing them now. Two things have helped me overcome my fear of public speaking: a fierce inner voice telling me to enjoy the experience, and accepting that some nervousness is totally normal and okay (you will notice that neither of these tips is picturing the audience in their underwear. Do not recommend!). You can’t control how the audience will react, but you can definitely control how you feel up on stage. Be confident in the power of your words and the strength of your voice—you wrote this book, after all. You are fabulous!
|Here I am reading in Vancouver. Tintin had my back!|
Contrary to popular belief, walking into a room full of strangers, alone, will not cause you to spontaneously combust
I still sometimes have trouble believing this, but so far I've come away from this kind of situation relatively unscathed. Whether you’re at a conference, book signing or public reading, it helps to remember you automatically have something in common with every person in the room. And if you’re feeling shy or overwhelmed, there’s a good chance other people are, too. Inserting yourself into a group can be intimidating, but take a look around—there’s probably someone else who seems a little tentative or uncertain, so why not introduce yourself? It might be awkward at first, but the relief of not having to stand in a corner playing Candy Crush while pretending to send Important Texts will far outweigh it. Be friendly and genuine, and if someone acts rude or disinterested, that’s their problem.
Social media is your friend (and it can bring your friends to you)
I’ve tagged old high school and camp friends in Facebook posts promoting readings in their cities, and I’ve gotten really lovely responses, even if not everyone I reached out to could make it. It’s a great way to get a familiar face or two in the crowd, and it's an excuse to reconnect with old pals. Also, if you find yourself at an event alone, searching the hashtag (or event name/other keywords) on Twitter can connect you with people in the room and help you put names to faces.
If all else fails, chat up your seatmate on the plane/train/bus
I sold two books on a plane recently, which was possibly one of the most surprising and delightful things that’s ever happened to me. Carry a few extra copies of your book around—you never know, the person sitting next to you might be out of reading material, need a last-minute gift for her niece or just find it incredibly cool that she got to meet a real, live author.
Self-promotion and public events aren’t always a cakewalk, but I’ve found that the hard work has been rewarding in ways I never expected. So as conference and festival season ramps up, I hope these tips come in handy for any Heartwarming authors putting themselves out there with their books.
Before I wrap up, I just wanted to give a shout-out to our wonderful April lineup: Karen Rock’s Raising the Stakes, Lynn Patrick’s The Long Road Home, Cynthia Reese’s Man of His Word and Carol Ross’s A Case for Forgiveness. I know what’s on my TBR pile for the long weekend!
Hope the Easter Bunny spoils you all,