Thursday, March 25, 2010

Makin' a Presentation!

To recap, I made my first professional author presentation last Saturday at the Quincy Writers Guild's annual conference, Wordstock. My presentation was "Marketing Yourself to an Agent," or possibly also "Marketing Your Writing to an Agent." There was some confusion on what the darn thing was actually called, but far be it for me to let a little thing like 'topic' or 'title' to slow me down! After all, I'm a professional!

I made 20 copies of my handout, which was the query letter my agent signed me over. Then I got paranoid--after all, I am now also a famous Radio Personality--and made another 20 copies. Us famous authors can't be too careful, you know.

So, bright and early Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed and greeted my big day! And wouldn't you know it, my big day was snowing. A wet, messy snow being blown around by a snot-nosed wind that made styling one's hair pointless--and dangerous, if one had carelessly applied too much hairspray in an attempt to foil said wind. It was just one continual sneeze out there.

Okay. So the weather was hideous and sent me running to my closet (because there's no way in hell I'm wearing a skirt in the snow), but hey! Let's be positive--at least people wouldn't be wasting their time outside getting 'exercise' and crap like that. Right?

I said, Right?

Um, not right. A grand total of fifteen brave souls ventured out on slick roads to come to the conference. That included seven members of the Quincy Writers Guild, me, the other presenters, and my mother. Four people, in other words. Maybe five.

Okay! No problem! Always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, right? 

I was one of the two second sessions. So I waited for the previous presentation to end. And waited. And got hit on by a non-conference bookstore patron. I have to say, this is the first time I've been flirted with by someone other than my husband in . . . hell, it's been a long time. And sadly, all I could think was, Gee, The Kid would LOVE his hat, because it had a train on it. Sad. Truly Sad.

Finally, the preceding presentation wound down, mostly due to me standing in the back and frantically pointing to my wrist. I was able to start setting up. Seven people settled in to listen to me--eight if you count my mother.

Did I mention that the whole conference was inside a bookstore--with a functional coffee bar? I will say this--Coffee Off Broadway makes a damn good cup of tea. But this did mean I occasionally had to shout over a grinder. No problem--if you've met me, you know I can shout down a herd of elephants, or even a herd of four year olds. Let's Present!

Do you like the outfit? Suede jacket, white shirt, every piece of turquoise I own, blue jeans, and boots. Business Casual Cowgirl, in person!

All pictures in this blog are courtesy of My Mom. I swear, my mother was sitting in the back, taking these pictures, and repeating to herself, "My little author is all grown up now!"

Do you know what a conference hijacker is? A conference hijacker is an audience member who commandeers a presentation, taking control by verbal force. I had one. And to make it worse, she was a little old lady. Slacker teenagers? No problem. Unruly kids? Easy. Obnoxious little old ladies? Oy. It got to the point where I wished I had followed the example of my seventh-grade history teacher, a man in a wheelchair. A junior high teacher in a wheelchair needs all the help he can get, so this particular teacher wielded a yardstick with deadly accuracy. Just one crack of that thing on a desk sent the class into a still, tense silence as we all sat on our hands, just in case.

Still, my mom said I handled the hijacker well. The rest of the audience members were all lovely, and I'm not just saying that because they told me I was a wonderful presenter. Really. No, some of them--get this--took my advice and started blogs already! (Hi, Doc!) I have a heady sense of omnipotence going on over here just typing it.

Finally, I was on time and under budget, and had managed to avoid committing Audience Assault (for which I think I deserve a merit badge from Author Scouts or something). I'm already thinking of ways to make this presentation better so I can take it on the road to other conferences. And despite the weather, I had a good time at Wordstock. I'd like to do it again next year.

But you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to have a yardstick with me.


Blythe Gifford said...

Ah, the glamour of it all! I had a memorable event last year in which I was invited to be part of a panel and signing. It required travel and an overnight hotel. In the end, there were more panelists than audience members. Sounds as if you are off to a good start! Just keep repeating: "One reader at a time."

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Yes, I positively reeked of glamour! I operate under the assumption that friends buy other friend's books!

Carolyn said...

YOU DONE GOOD.............MOM AKA...Media Woman

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Thanks, Mom! And thanks again for taking the pictures!

lucylucia said...

I love the outfit and request the Name of the store you bought the jacket from - ASAP. Also, that coffee grinder never had a chance!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Lucy, it's actually from JC Penney, believe it or not. I'm glad you like it!