Today readers, I have the pleasure of Keira Gillett stopping by to talk about what goes into an author reading and book signing event. You may remember her from an interview I had with her on the blog. I reviewed her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, too. Thanks, Keira for dropping by!
What I Learned from Doing an Author Reading and Book Signing
Hi everyone! My name is Keira Gillett and I’m the author behind the Zaria Fierce Trilogy. It’s about a young adopted American girl who finds out she’s a princess and has to save her best friend from an ugly river-troll. My second book – Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword – released on November 6, 2015, and continues the adventures Zaria has in Norway with her friends.
Thanks again, Anjie for having me here today, I’m glad to be back. This topic was a lot of fun to dissect and talk about in depth. Let’s get started!
After just one author reading and book signing event I can tell you I would do it again! I had so much fun connecting with readers on an intimate level. It went very smoothly, but I will do things a bit differently at the next book event. Here is the most important thing that I learned:
You can’t be too prepared.
So much goes into an event like this and it’s hard to remember everything you should do to get ready. It’s only after the event that you can take a step back and really see what you did well and where you can improve for the next time.
What I did well:
- I practiced what I would read nearly every day for a week before the event. Doing thisallowed me to read fluidly with very few errors (like dropping a word or switching the order of words). Ididn’t make a single error that I couldn’t keep reading through.
- I had good pacing, and I timed the reading to roughly twenty minutes. I didn’t read too fastor too slow to make the reading difficult on the listeners’ ears. Also, twenty minutes was perfect for little and adult ears alike. It was just enough of the story to interest them in the rest of the book, and not so much that it started to bore them or make them look for a bathroom.
- I developed voices for the characters and added emotion into the reading. I really liked myZaria and Olaf, and I was pleased with how they sounded at the event.
- I came with my writer’s notebook for the trilogy in case anybody asked questions regardingmy writing process or how I kept track of the details between books.
- I came with the original drawings that Eoghan Kerrigan did for the books. Having this on hand allowed me to show Eoghan’s gorgeous artwork and to talk about the underdrawings, which were visible in blue and orange pencil.
- I had someone film the event and I used my phone to record the reading as well. This was agreat idea (and I’m so very grateful I listened to my friend who suggested I do both) because the video is a little soft and we ran out of space right at the end so the reading is cut off. The audio-only recording is perfect and even includes the Q&A session from the audience.
- I brought three signing pens. I only needed one, but if I needed another I had them.
- I brought a water bottle and a hard candy in case I needed it after the reading. I didn’t, but Ihad them.
- I brought around twenty copies of each book. This was smart because it allowed for thosewho came to buy a set, or to buy a single book if they were interested, and to buy multiples without feeling like they would deny someone else in the crowd from purchasing a copy.
- I brought my book business cards. People loved them. I encouraged all who came or bought a copy of the books to take a few to use as bookmarks. It’s my hope that they’ll use them that way, and maybe to also share them with friends and family down the road.
What I will do better next time:
- I did introduce myself to the audience, but I did it very informally and very quickly before the reading started. Next time I will slow down and do my introduction more thoroughly. I might even prepare a little speech to help calm my nerves. Plus, if I do this at the beginning of the event it will allow for anyone who might be a few minutes late to have a chance to find a seat and not miss any of the actual reading.
- I did talk to the kids about Eoghan’s art in the few minutes before the reading started, but I wasn’t as focused as I could have been. I will prepare some additional talking points for next time – likehow I found Eoghan, how we work together, how his art gets put into the books, etc.
- I won’t over practice a deep voice or make a voice deeper than it needs to be, which I did in the week before the reading. Stay within your vocal range! On the day of the event, I was a little worriedthat all the practice for Olaf would make me sound scratchy for the whole reading and not just for his lines. I wanted him to sound good, but it’s best not to strain your voice at all. During the reading I brought Olaf’s voice up to a more comfortable spot for my voice and didn’t have any trouble.
- Having now watched the video of the event, I think I might stand up at some point in the reading (if a scene calls for it, like it did with Olaf slipping off the bridge’s railing) and use gestures andbody language to help readers visualize the story. I was doing that during my practice sessions at home, but I was a little nervous to do that with an audience and kept my hands on the book.
- I’ll have some questions prepared to answer for a Q&A in case the audience is a little shy. This way I can talk about certain parts of the book and publishing that I find fun and interesting ifthere’s a lull between questions from the audience.
- I’ll film the event using a phone or camera with a larger storage capacity so the video doesn’t cut out before the reading is done.
- I’ll repeat audience questions so they are better heard by everyone in the audience, or for anybody who is watching the video or listening to the recording.
- I’ll take more pictures! I only have two pictures that I took. The rest that were taken were captured by the attendees and I just have to hope I get to see them at some point.
You can listen to the full event here:
Readers – Do you like going to author readings and book signings? What makes a great author and book event?
Authors – Do you have tips and lessons learned from your own book readings and signings? I’d love to hear them!
Book Two in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy
Summary: If Zaria Fierce had her say, being a princess would mean you’d never have to wait for news. In the eight months since Olaf tricked her, Zaria has felt a near constant mixture of restlessness, listlessness, and hopelessness. When the time comes to fix past mistakes, she is more than ready to climb aboard the ship sailing towards the giants. Summertime in Norway promises many more adventures, but also many more perils… something sinister lurks beneath the surface following her every move, haunting her, disturbing her dreams, and stealing her peace. Can Zaria figure out what it is and stop it before it’s too late?
Release Date: November 6, 2015
Praise for Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest (Book 1):
“Are you in the mood for an old fashioned magical jaunt? Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett is a classic “perilous adventure” book for middle grade readers.” Jennifer Bardsley, The YA Gal
“A captivating blending of fantasy storytelling with today’s technology. At the base of this tale is deep, abiding friendship that stands the tests of time, adventure and even danger.” Kathy Haw, Goodreads Review
“A great book with a lovely story and amazing characters. It’s a fantasy and adventure book that will be the delight of Narnia fans and those looking for a bit of Norwegian folklore thrown into it.” Ner, A Cup of Coffee and a Book
“If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure dipped in fantasy, look no further. This book kept me on my toes with its many cliffhangers and plot twists; it was quite hard to put down at times.” Meredith, All ‘Bout Them Books and Stuff
“I love when a story jumps right in and hooks me like this one did. I highly recommend you look into it if you are in the mood for a fun adventure. I also recommend that you get it for any book loving middle schooler you know.” Emily, Midwestern Book Nerd
Filip slung his window open and tossed out his backpack. It landed in a thump in the hedgerow. Aleks pulled it out and slung it over his shoulder with his own bag.
“How’re you getting down?”
“Hopefully with your stargazer.”
“Then why toss down your bag?” Aleks asked, exasperated.
“Just in case,” Filip said with a wink at Zaria.
She suppressed a smile. She looked to the others, “Does anybody have rope?”
Aleks and Geirr both nodded. Then Geirr unzipped his bag and pulled out a neat coil from on top. He tossed it to Filip, who snatched it up as it sailed by the window. He disappeared into his bedroom and reappeared moments later slinging the coil out the window. It unraveled to the ground.
“Good,” Filip said briskly. “It’s long enough. Now let’s see if it holds.”
Filip quickly scaled the side of the house and they gathered their belongings preparing to dash. Without warning, Mrs. Storstrand stuck her head out of a bottom window and shrieked at the sight of them.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“Run!” Filip shouted, grabbing his friends’ sleeves and rushing for the street.
Aleks cursed and threw Filip his backpack while slinging his own around to the front and unzipping a pocket. He looked frazzled as he dug inside the opening. Mrs. Storstrand was quick. She was already out of the house and chasing after them. She threatened life and limb and the most terrible of all – letting Filip’s father know what he was about.
At last Aleks found the stargazer – a shiny purplish egg-shaped object perforated with stars – and almost dropped it in his haste. After a brief fumble, Aleks located the largest star, and hastily jabbed his finger into the hole. Just like that, Mrs. Storstrand froze mid-run. But so too did Christoffer, Filip, and Geirr.
Aleks looked at Zaria and to the others. “Damn,” he hissed. “Wait! How are you not frozen too?”
Author Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.