I've also learned a few things. Quickly.
First, If invited to do a signing at a Jewish Book Festival, try not to be the author slated to give her five minute spiel after the guy who wrote the non-fiction account of the Holocaust. Particularly if, like me, you've written book a suburban satire/pregnancy whodunnit. Awkward. Luckily, the crowd seemed to appreciate the diversion, laughed and even bought my book!
Second: Have Laryngitis and the bookstore podium isn't miked? Talk about your book, but think twice before you read from it. One page into the section I'd practiced and had almost committed to memory and I realized I'd made something of a mistake. Not only couldn't I project my voice, nor alter it enough to delineate dialogue between characters, but my accompanying chest cold made my breathing/speaking patterns wonky. Better to talk about the book, take questions, sign copies and get back into bed.
Third: Sometimes, the four people you invite to a multi-author signing in a city like, say, Chicago, are the only four people that show up. At all. It happens.
Last: Everyone's a critic. Really, that's not true at all. I've had overwhelming praise and support from friends, family and reviewers alike. I've even received my first fan mail. The problem is, one side remark, Amazon review, or, in my case, lecture from a well-meaning attendee can overshadow all the positives. After speaking to a standing room only crowd, a family friend who'd missed my talk about the book and walked in halfway through the reading asked me if I had a little cold. After telling her that I had the equivalent of the plague and no voice as a result, she proceeded to tell me she was an international speaker and she was going to give me some tips and she did, for fifteen minutes. Among them, "you need to learn to project your voice."
In repeating the conversation, warts and all, to an author friend of mine, he told me to get used to the unexpected. Along with the wonderful experience of sharing your work with readers, friends and potential fans, there will always be those strange moments and niggles that keep you awake all night wondering what you could have done better. His--at one of his first signings, the bookstore owner came up to greet him just before the signing. The man informed my friend that he'd read his book, that it was clear this was a first novel, and went on to explain every weakness he'd found in the plot. Then, he sent one very distressed author up to the podium.
Perhaps all that thick skin from trying to get an agent and then an editor grows for a reason...
Despite it all, I can't wait for my next signing!