Suck It Up And SMILE!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It happened again. Great venue. Tons of publicity and lots of empty chairs. It was last weekend in a neighboring town. 

Ironically, the book involved is selling like gang-busters, the best of the twelve other publications I have had on the market. 

Most authors won't admit this but empty chairs are the reality of doing author presentations, unless, of course, your book made it to the New York Times Best Selling list, you have amassed a huge following or this is your first book and all your family and friends gather to cheer you on. It doesn't happen all the time but when it does, it can throw you for a loop and make you wonder is it your book or you or something else? 

But don't sweat the small crowds because different opportunities come from a more intimate group. You'll get to inspire readers in a way you wouldn't have in a large group. People will feel freer to ask questions and make comments. And you never know if one of the three or four or five in the audience might have the connections that may result in future speaking engagements and opportunities far beyond anything you could imagine. 

Before becoming an author, you see long lines at book talks and signings and assume that's the way it will be for you. It might be some of the time, but I'm willing to bet that even well-known authors can remember events when the unfilled chairs out-numbered those filled. 

When the time comes and you find yourself staring out at those empty chairs, push back the tears and thoughts that no one cares, and focus on the seats that are filled. 

When the empty chair syndrome happens to you, what do you do? 

You suck it up and smile! 

And then give the same dynamite presentation you prepared for a crowd, to the few sitting before you. They showed up! They care! They want to hear what you have to say. You owe it to them to deliver what they came for--a dynamic peak into the pages of your latest work. 

Have you attended a book signing and been one of a couple in the audience? Has it happened to you? I'd like to hear your thoughts. 


Georgia Ruth said...

When I lived in Nashville, I attended a 42-yr-old author's debut at Borders, and I was the only one there. She laughed good-naturedly, but of course she was devastated. Her novel had been highly praised by Lee Smith. Five years later, I attended a presentation she made at the Blue Ridge Bookfest in Flat Rock, after we moved to NC. She then had 30 enthusiastic fans listening to her intriguing plot for book #3 and buying books #1 and #2. I suppose the lesson is to be ready for anything. I'm so proud of your success this year. Best wishes.

Gretchen said...

Sandra, I've learned to suck it up and smile, too! You are so right about presenting the best you can no matter the number of people filling the chairs. Thanks for sharing this with everyone. It's a lesson for us all.

Sandra Warren said...

Thank you Georgia and Gretchen for your comments. I hoped the topic wasn't too negative. It would have helped me to know what to expect--that sometimes for a multitude of reasons--you'll be talking to an empty room.

Georgia, I feel for the writer you spoke of. Thank you for sharing!

sheri levy said...

Sandra, thank you for sharing. It is something we all face. Even one person can pass the word about your story and you can make a friend at the same time!
Sheri Levy

Linda A. said...

You have a great attitude and approach to this. I went to a book event at a library once with a well know picture book author. She was presenting a writers' workshop on the next day. Many who were enrolled for the workshop were there, but almost no one else.

Keep presenting and I'm happy to hear that sales are going well.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Sandra,
When Flip Flap Floodle was released, I imagined hundreds of people being at the bookstore buying my book. I took 200 copies of it to the booksigning. I sold 5 copies. I was disappointed because of the vision in my mind, none about the reality of my name was unknown except to my family and friends. I was in a town where I only knew one person. But, I was ever so grateful for the experience of meeting and talking with people. The big realization, as you say was this emotional myth that was implanted in your mind. However, I did a author day presentation at a school where I taught and sold 30 books.

When I was in college, we had a party and only 4 people came. I said, "Well, we've got to have a great time so we can tell the others what they missed."

Remember that God has people in your path that need to hear what you have to say. Sometimes it's one, sometimes it's three, sometimes it's a hundred. Rejoice and be glad you have a book that has a superb story in itself, plus they can witness first hand your courage in being an author and taking a stand for those from the past who can't tell their story about getting together enough money to buy a bomber to support the war.

Celebrate you!
Never Give Up

Sandra Warren said...

Sheri, Linda and Joan,

Thank you all for your comments.

You're right Sheri, one person can make a difference. Linda, I feel for that well-known author but I'm sure she's experienced it before. And Joan, thank's for sharing your Flip Flap Floodle story.

Being an author can be an emotional roller-coaster. Knowing that you're not alone is a big help.

Remember to suck it up and SMILE!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Sandra,
You're welcome. It's good to know that we are all in this together! That fact gives me joy and hope!


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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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