Book Signing Tips from Kirt Hickman

I have to admit, I make a point of seeking out Kirt Hickman at the Colorado Gold conference.  He first came to the conference about two years ago, gave a solid keynote, and brought a book called Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness. As I was starting a revision of my own novel at the time, I went to his presentation hoping to get a tip or two.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Author Kirt HickmanKirt gave that presentation in a practical and pragmatic way that had me scribbling note after note, thought after thought. I hadn’t been to a presentation that made me feel like I was trying to sip from a firehose in a very long time.  The concepts were clear, but there was so much I hadn’t thought of.  Of course, I ended up buying his book.

And I used the book for a lot of help along the way in my revising process.  I didn’t use everything.  I like following recipes up to a point, but every author has to build his or her own style, not only of writing, but of revision, pitching and working toward the selling success of the final product–a novel.  Still, if you want a great read on building your story, and revising it to the best it can be, definitely pick up Revising Fiction.

Cover art for Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the MadnessOne of the nicer things about taking advice from Kirt is that he himself has been through the fiction writing adventure. He has two award winning science fiction books out: Worlds Assunder and Venus Rain as well as a fantasy novel, Fabler’s Legend and a children’s book that he takes to schools around the country.

At this conference, Kirt talked about promoting your novel at book signings.  Where other authors sell a handful of copies at their signings, Kirt might sell as many as 30 or 40 at a time.  And in book sales, this is impressive.  Here are a few things he suggested:

  • Stand up — simple but true.  Have you ever noticed that authors tend to sit behind their stacks of books at bookstore signings?  They are shy, reserved people who show they’d rather be home writing than standing with their audiences.  This allows potential buyers to walk past “without noticing” them. Both the buyer and the author are more comfortable this way, but the sale doesn’t happen, and the reader isn’t engaged.
  • Say “I’m an author” as you reach out to shake people’s hands.  Notice he didn’t say to use your name?  Even best-selling authors don’t tend to be recognized by name, but the minute you say “author” you’re a bit of a celebrity interested in the people you meet.  What a treat for you both!
  • Bring your own presentation materials — table, tablecloth, books!  These are small items that are easy to assume you’ll have present at your signing, but as my big sister once said to me, “assume” makes an ass out of u and me.

After the talk, as I asked Kirt for permission to use photos from his website, I also had the chance to ask if he had a book out on author’s promotions.  He took on that arrested look one gets as the lightbulb clicks on and they know they’re off in a good direction.  “No,” he said, “but I like that idea.”

Here’s to hoping he writes this self-promotion book before I make too many mistakes in promoting Faith on the Rocks.

Book Title: Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness
Author: Kirt Hickman
Pages: 313
Publisher: Quillrunner Publishing


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