First impressions count, as the old saying goes. Nothing could be as on the money as that old chestnut. Too many authors go to booksignings and other author events with the idea in mind that I'M A PUBLISHED AUTHOR, and my readers have come to worship me. Hell's Bells, no. Your readers have come to meet you and to ask questions about your novels. Some even question how your mind came up with such a wonderful plot. So don't go adopting an attitude.
For example: when I first started writing, I met a published author at my agent's office. She came in, sat down and artfully removed her two novels from her handbag--it was a hughie--and placed them in front of her. The attitude she displayed made me feel as though I was in the presence of royalty. Speaking to me, with her eyes leveled above mine, she seemed to ignore her novels. However, I knew she was focused on them as a means of impressing me. After I sold my first seven horror novels to Dorchester, I met her again. She still had the same two novels, but her attitude never changed. And no, I didn't lug mine around to be impressive.
The only time I lugged mine around was when I was doing a booksigning or appearing at an author's conference where lugging your novels to the event was a requirement. Despite the fact that my book sales were mounting faster than the room in my attache case--yes, I needed one by that time--I still looked my readers straight in the eye and smiled. I didn't become an author because I was born gifted. I became an author due to the seven years of training I had with an editor at my agent's office. So I kept in mind the fact that my readers could do the same as me with the right training. Therefore, I was not some mythological goddess that had to be worshipped.
And the same goes for authors locked into any genre. Be yourself; be an approachable person. This does more for both you and your novel sales than you can imagine. Don't overdress as if you're going to a cocktail party. I know you're making money, but don't flaunt it. Some of your readers can barely afford the price of your novels. I know since I was told by readers at booksignings that they didn't have the money then, but they would eventually buy my novels. These are the ones I gave freebees to if I had extras on me. Not everyone has instant cash. Some are just barely making the mortgage payments, especially in these hard times. So listen to what people say and react accordingly.
And above all, remember, you're not a star. You're just an average human being who had the proper training to get published. So, remember this and don't look down your nose at your readers. These are the people keeping you published. If they bought one novel, chances are they'll buy more of your novels when they come out. Therefore, they're the suppliers of your bread and butter. They deserve to see a warm person when they see you for the first time ever.
One more thing: When you have a photo shoot for a picture to be used on either the back or inside back jacket of your novel, it doesn’t have to be a professional photo. I had a photographer take a photo of me at a booksigning where I was wearing my everyday ‘dress up’ clothes. My publisher hated it. So I had my oldest daughter take a shot of me out on the backyard patio. I was wearing an old, worn T-shirt, but my hair and makeup were done. I sent it to the publisher and he loved it. That’s the one he used for my novel. Go figure. As I said, don’t be a star.
I really enjoyed reading this. I think that it helps those new to the writing world, like myself, and it also adds on to those who are used to the writing world. Kudos to you. Thanks for such an interesting entree.
Having hung around your pages quietly this morning, I will say I'm impressed. I admire your acheivment YET, I do not read mysteries, horror or likewise genre's (although I supposed nautical fiction IS a genre in a way (outmoded) - I must say I think today the situation is a bit the opposite than you write in this article. Though there always are the stuck up, there just may be authentic writers of prose who don't fit in and it looks more and more on the racks that genre writers are the elite.
Though I don't think I'm a great prose writer, I may be in that pitiful position of coming up with unusual ideas and narrative voices that don't seem to fit it. For the sake of my pocket, I wish I could write genre fiction... Luckily I'm still hoping to make it in music (I'm a 30 year still broke pianist)
Glad I read this, something to think about...
PS: your very prolific! sincerely, michael guy