Do you know Rachel Held Evans? If not, you should.
She’s a barrel of laughs.
She’s also a bestselling author and a courageous leader among Christian Feminists online. She’s helped many people bridge between faith and doubt. Read this blog post about World Vision and see how much energy (over 600 comments) she generates! My respect for her has only increased after I met her on March 19 at Eastern Mennonite University.
Rachel is also a memoir and book marketing pro. Less than half my age, she teaches me. When I heard she was coming to my alma mater, right down the street from my house, I knew I had to be there.
If you are an avid reader, if you are a writer, you look forward to events like this one that give you an opportunity to meet a favorite author — or maybe just a famous one who becomes a favorite after the event.
After Rachel’s visit I created a check list of a dozen activities I did before and after the event. It’s easy to forget networking skills when caught up in the excitement of the moment.
I figured that if I needed to remind myself of how to help the writer, the sponsoring institution, and myself, perhaps these simple strategies might help my readers also. I also want to get better at serving authors and readers through this blog, so I’m hoping you will improve the list after you read it.
I’m about to go on another tour myself, and though I’m not a star like Rachel, the list below might help me know how to act and how to ask for help when I’m the speaker.
The List: A Dozen Ways to Connect
1. Check out the pre-event publicity. Help spread the word on social media. I used Facebook.
2. Twitter comes in handy before, during, and after the presentation. If you have an account, share a few pithy quotes. Retweet others.
3. After the presentation, ask a question. It doesn’t have to be profound, just sincere.
5. Get in the line.
6. Pay keen attention when others talk to the author.
You can learn a lot from an author about how she listens to her fans. Some clearly want to dispatch with the task as quickly as possible. Rachel Held Evans focuses on the person in front of her, not on the length of the line. People in the line don’t grow restless. They know they will get Rachel’s full attention when their turn comes.
7. Photo op? Of course. Offer to take photos for others in line also. Good chance to deepen friendships with readers as you wait in line. If you’re lucky, a good photographer you offer to help, will help you. Thanks, Jessica Hostetler!
8. Follow up. Thank her for the visit in Tweet form. Feel a little thrill when she replies or favorites the tweet.
9. Follow up. Offer a guest post.
10. Write a blog post about the event such as this one.
If I had been thinking further ahead, I would have asked to interview her on my blog!
11. Tweet a link to her it as a way to say thank you one more time for her mission in the world. Only another writer knows how lonely the journey can be. I think I will also tweet some of my laugh lines from A Year of Biblical Womanhood.
12. And then leave her alone. She’s an introvert. And she’s got another book to write!
How can you improve this list? Can you tell a story of what it was like to meet a famous author? I’d love to listen!