Over the next few months, we Mesdames will share our thoughts on public appearances in the blog series “Walk the Talk”. We will share what worked well and pass our suggestions on to you, our fellow authors. Here we are, respectable as always, at the launch of 13 O’clock!
Introduction by Lynne Murphy
On February 6th, the Mesdames of Mayhem will appear at the Burlington Heritage Fair as part of an event honouring and celebrating women in the arts, business, politics and history. The theme of the event this year is Women on the Move and it marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Canada. The Mesdames planning to attend are M.H. Callway, Melodie Campbell, Rosemary McCracken, Lisa de Nikolits and Joan O’Callaghan. They will discuss our anthologies, Thirteen and Thirteen O’clock, and their own books. The Fair will take place at the Central Branch of the Burlington Library from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.
The invitation came about as a result of an appearance at the Burlington Library last year by some of the Mesdames and is quite an honour for our group. In the past two years, the Mesdames have made dozens of appearances at libraries, book clubs and other venues.
In this first article, The Set-Up, Mme. Joan O’Callaghan tells just what goes into arranging these events.
WALK THE TALK #1: THE SET-UP
The Mesdames have had a very successful run at many libraries not only in Toronto but in other cities as well. Libraries are great places for authors, both seasoned and newly minted, to appear. Librarians are always interested in new books and by hosting authors, they learn about what’s new, give authors a chance to promote their books, and at the same time serve their communities by providing interesting and entertaining programs. In short, librarians can be your best friends and deserve all the support we can provide.
A visit to a library generally begins with a little research. This involves scouting out suitable locations and determining how to go about making contact. This will vary from location to location. In Toronto, the public library system invites people to submit a proposal on its website. Presumably, if the proposal meets the established guidelines, it is circulated through the various branches. The Mesdames received two invitations as a result of this. (Of course, there is nothing to stop an enterprising author from visiting a branch of the library and making their own arrangements.) In other places, there might be a program director or a librarian charged with this responsibility.
A proposal should include an introduction-in this case I introduce myself and explain the Mesdames of Mayhem. Then there should be a description of how a program might unfold. I always point out that while we do not charge for an appearance, we do ask permission to sell our books. I conclude with an invitation to visit our website (and include the link) to learn more about us. Once we receive a favourable response, there is a lot of negotiating back and forth. This includes date, time, duration of the program, and number of Mesdames appearing. The library may also require that we sign a contract.
Later, the negotiations become more focused. I always request a table and chairs for us, a table to display our books, and drinking water (reading and speaking tends to be dry work.) I also request that they forward to us any promotion that they are doing for the event so that we may post it to our own website and our individual Facebook pages. The library almost always asks for the names, brief bios, and sometimes photos of those who are coming.
We have been fortunate in our dealings with libraries. Some Mesdames, such as Catherine Astolfo, have forged an ongoing connection with the local librarian and have been able to build that relationship. In another case, we had a librarian participate in an interview about us with the local radio station, and arrange for a reporter from the local newspaper to attend our session. This resulted in an article and photograph. Welcome publicity!
Next in the series: Mesdames Catherine Astolfo, Lynne Murphy, M. H. Callway, Melodie Campbell and Rosemary McCracken will share their experiences and the pleasures and perils of public appearances.