Bella Stander's article* Book Promotion 101 comes across with a definite edge to it, as if she meant to subtitle it 25 Things You'd Better Do For Your Signing, You Twit, Or Else. Been burned a few times, I guess.
I'd never spoken in public before I was published, and I was terrified at the prospect. To combat my cowardice, I went to Poetry Open Mike night at B&N for a couple of months. Getting up in front of strangers and reading my really personal stuff banished most of my stage fright. I'll never be comfortable with public speaking, though. The whole time I'm talking, I'm thinking, the hem of my dress is stuck in the waistband of my pantyhose or did I do a spinach check on my teeth after dinner?
I think most authors do a fair job with booksignings, but few are stellar at it. Neil Gaiman is, of course, but you probably have to go through TicketMaster now to attend his signings. Mystery author Laurien Berenson does a nice, classy job with hers (and you can talk about dogs with her and her eyes don't glaze over.) Janet Evanovich is funny, and reads well, but like Neil's her signings are generally swamped.
If you're looking for a public appearance role model, go no further than Marcia King-Gamble. Marcia is a tall, gorgeous romance author who has the elegance and fashion sense of a supermodel. Unlike most of us, she looks better than her author photos. Along with the presence, Marcia knows how to put anyone at ease. She might be sitting at a rickety card table outside a B. Dalton, but talk to her for two minutes and you'll swear you're in a sidewalk cafe in Paris. A lot of Raven in The Steel Caress was me dealing with my Marcia-envy.
Who do you think gives great booksignings?
(*link filched from Southern Comfort.)