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AUTHOR BEHAVIOR GUIDE

by Bella Stander
Based on painful experience & personal observation

GENERAL BEHAVIOR:

  1. Respond promptly to phone calls and email.
  2. Keep your publicist up to date on your speaking engagements, writer's residencies, book signings, media interviews, etc.
  3. As soon as you commit to participating in an event, put all necessary information in your datebook. Do not contact the organizer three months later, asking when and where the event is.
  4. Get clear upfront as to who is paying for travel, meals and lodging--your publisher, the event sponsor or you. Do not hold up event organizer at the last minute for expenses that weren't previously agreed upon.
  5. Be ready to supply a short bio (one graf) and good head shot, both preferably digital.
  6. If you move or change jobs, email address, cell or home phone number, let your publicist and event organizer know.


PUBLIC APPEARANCES:

  1. SHOW UP.
  2. Be on time. Better yet, arrive a few minutes early.
  3. Always carry a copy of your book. With the dust jacket on it so people can see what it looks like. And a pen.
  4. Carry bookplates to sign in case there aren't enough (or any) copies of your book. If you don't have bookplates on hand, get the reader's address and mail one ASAP.
  5. Act gracious, friendly and appreciative, even if you're sick as a dog, your feet are killing you and no one buys your book.
  6. No whining. No kvetching. (See #5.)


PUBLIC SPEAKING:

  1. BE PREPARED.
  2. PRACTICE and TIME your speech and/or reading beforehand. Five minutes equals 900-950 words.
  3. Sit and stand up straight.
  4. Keep your hands away from your face. Don't cradle your chin in your hand.
  5. DON'T read from your book! Print out a passage in large type (at least 16 pt), one paragraph per page. This allows you to hold the paper farther from your face, and thus stand up straighter and better face the audience. Which means you can be seen--and heard!--more easily.
  6. Speak into the microphone. Position it so you don't have to slouch or stretch.
  7. Don't cram a 20-minute speech into ten. Speak slowly enough so that listeners can absorb what you're saying, especially if it's heavy on facts, statistics or complicated concepts.
  8. Don't go over your allotted time. Five minutes means just that; not eight or ten.
  9. There's a diminishing return: The longer you read aloud, the less people will feel the need to buy your book. Leave them wanting more, not fidgeting or falling asleep.


GROOMING:

  1. Wear a top in a solid bright or deep color that complements your coloring. Never mind what's in Vogue or GQ -- beige is not your friend; neither is taupe.
  2. Don't wear a top that's close to your skin tone, especially if you're going to be on camera. White and pale pastels make light skin look washed-out. Ocher and khaki make sallow and medium-brown skin look muddy. Charcoal, navy and black make dark skin look ashy.
  3. Avoid pinstripes, little prints, houndstooth checks and glen plaid; they "chatter" on video.
  4. Women: Makeup is essential for photos and TV, even for a "natural" look.
    Men & women: Use powder if you have shiny skin.
    Men: Put powder on any large areas of exposed scalp; light reflecting off a chrome dome can be blinding.



BOOK AWARD CEREMONY ETIQUETTE

by Mary Sharratt, author of Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen, The Witching Hill and other novels.

  1. Most people dress up for book awards. Try to look glammer than your usual self.
  2. In case you do win, have a few lines prepared for your acceptance speech. Try to sound honored and grateful, not full of yourself.
  3. When your category has been announced and you discover you are not the winner, do not huff out of the auditorium in a sulk mid-ceremony.
  4. Be gracious and happy. Even being a finalist is a tremendous honor. If someone comes up to you at the reception, someone who adores your writing and secretly thinks you should have won, and if that person says, "Congratulations!", do not sarcastically snarl, "For what?" The only real losers are those who cannot take a sincere compliment.



LAST, BUT NOT LEAST...

Grandma was right! ALWAYS send a handwritten thank-you note to the event organizers--whether you were at a glittering awards ceremony or a gritty preschool story hour. You will stand out for expressing your appreciation promptly and graciously.


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© 2013 Bella Stander