Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Talks 2

Okay, now I want to talk about what a book event should be like. We saw another book talk the night after Chas Smith. I am not going to mention the author's name because there is no point in doing that.

His book talk, and his book is a best seller, was not about the book at all. What is was about was him. It went on for 50 minutes in which he detailed his rise and fall and rise, which entailed a lot of name dropping and a lot of talk about money.  A lot. Certainly this is the primary, if not only reason, he writes.I am not suggesting all books have to strive to be art. But it's hard to listen to someone who only writes for the money. ONLY.

I am not sure that the audience didn't like this, but I sure didn't. I was not there to hear about how many copies he sold and how President Bush sent him a fan letter nor how he needs a lot of dough to keep his kids in private school. This was not his first book but his ninth. Did no one ever tell him that maybe discussing the current book or reading from it might be the way to go?

I doubt he's ever attended another author's event because he showed no sign of knowing how the system worked.

So what should an author do at a book talk?

The best ones I have attended do this: the author talks briefly about herself. The author talks a bit about how the idea for the book came to him: about: its evolution. The author reads from the book-maybe for about 5-10 minutes. The author answers questions for as long as they come. He can expand on the questions where that makes sense. The main thing here is the BOOK.Talk about the book. And please don't say, in front of a book store owner, that you don't care if ebooks prevail over print as long as you make money. Yikes!

What do you like to hear from an author at a signing?




22 comments:

David Cranmer said...

I prefer the author talk about the book and maybe his/her influences. Gotta be honest that most of the writer signings I have attended have not gone so well.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I would say the ones I have seen have usually been at least somewhat interesting. A few like this one seem to be from people who have never been to a good one.

Ron Scheer said...

I expect to hear a couple of good anecdotes that establish the writer's voice and personality (independent of either of these in the reading itself). That is what I will go away remembering and most likely influence my purchase of a book now or later.

Sounds like your writer's attempt to do that misfired.

gumboyaya said...

I think authors should make a book event fun and interesting. My co-author Deirdre Gogarty (a former world champion boxer) and I had a book signing at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. An author friend drove over from Alabama to introduce us, and he brought his guitar. He sang The Boxer, we read excerpts from the book, we answered every question. And Deirdre worked mitts with a couple of young fighters from her gym. Oh, and wine was served.

Bill Crider said...

My friend George Clooney told me that name-dropping was a bad idea. So I try to avoid it.

Deb said...

I must admit I'd love to know who this writer is...if only to avoid purchasing any of his books!

R.T. said...

I understand (from people who were there) that the last really good book-talk was at Mt. Sinai.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Boy I wish I had been at yours, gumboyaya. HA, Bill and RT. I hate to mention his name in case he has a blog search going on. And based on what I heard, I am sure he has one.
Much can be learned from the fact he started out an an investment banker.

R.T. said...

BTW and FYI, Patti, my neglected book offering for Friday's collection will appear on my blog at midnight on Thursday.

Richard said...

would the initials be DL?

Dana King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana King said...

This topic has been on my mind since I did my first event in November. I was lucky. I got a lot of help from the store owner (Laurie Stephens at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont PA. I highly recommend her and MLB.) The format she and I agreed on was very simple:
1. I talked for five minutes or so about how the book came to be, starting with the idea and how it progressed in my mind.
2. I read for 5 -10 minutes.
3. I answered any question the audience had.
4. Signed books until no one else had any for me.

So, basically what Patti recommends. The event was a huge success, and took about an hour, which is about as long as one of these should run.

(Oh, yeah. It sure didn't hurt when Charlie Stella made an unannounced appearance.)

pattinase (abbott) said...

That is the way Megan does it, Dana. Ok, the writer was Christopher Reich, The Price of Risk, was his latest book although he never discussed it at all. Maybe he needs to hear this actually.

John said...

I would've walked out. His kind of book has never appealed to me any way so I'd never have heard or seen him.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We are unable to pass up any author six blocks away. We have heard some pretty strange talks over the years and all of them were interesting in some way. Or annoying. Staying home is not in our genes, which is also why we go to so many movies, plays, music at churches, art shows, etc.

Gerard said...

I wish I had some names to drop.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Don't we all. Although mentioning Lee Child five times may have been excessive. And the George Bush comment was even worse.

George said...

Dana King has the right idea for how an author talk should be conducted.

Dana King said...

Thank you, George. I'll send a car for you, should I ever have another one. :)

Gerard said...

You can name drop your daughter and husband.

Alison Krauss was in my high school graduating class. I saw her twice when I was in school. Once in the lunchroom and once at the graduation ceremony.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Arthur Penn was in my mother's. With a class of over 600, she never once saw him.

Anonymous said...

A little late but...the perfect author for one of these is Dave Barry, if only because he is naturally so funny. He does the same - talks a little (not much) about the book, reads a short excerpt (for one of his pirate books with Ridley Pearson they wore eyepatches and did silly accents) and answers (more or less) all questions. He also signs everyone's books, talks to you, cheerfully poses for pictures (even with your baby or dog).

Reich sounds like an @sshole. I've seen a few self-important blowhards. He sounds pretty bad.


Jeff M.