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Francis Plug’s Top Backstage Tips For Authors

By Francis Plug (as told to Paul Ewen).

Author events can be a terrible strain on the nerves, and this anxiety can be particularly savage in the build-up to the event itself.
So I’ve put together some handy ‘backstage’ tips to help authors take the edge of the nightmare to follow.

Have a cigarette. Have several. You won’t be able to smoke in the event, even if you’re in a tent in the middle of a friggin’ field. So get your quota in early. With any luck you’ll set off some smoke alarms and the venue will be evacuated and you can slip off to the pub and stay there.

Drink brown spirits or beer. Alcohol is absolutely essential to the public author. You cannot cope without it. No way. Once you’re in your event you’ll be able to drink white spirits, but you need to get the brown stuff in early, because it doesn’t look like still water.

Read your book. You can lose yourself in a good book, and your book must be one of those because if it wasn’t why would you put yourself through this whole event debasement? Try and keep it neat and tidy because you might be able to flog it for money later.

Do the turkey head. Music is a good way to relax and zone out before your impending horror show. Headphones are ideal in this respect because they help deter any other backstage people from wanting to talk or engage with you.

Laugh Out Loud. If you’re behaving in a jovial and carefree manner, you may convince yourself that you’re untroubled by the idea of strangers staring at you for an hour or so and posing really awkward questions. Put your shoes on the wrong feet because that’s always good for a laugh.

Run away. What’s the worst that could happen? Most people probably bought your book before the event anyway, and events don’t get reviewed like books do. Also, your interviewer can probably yabber on happily by themselves because they probably know more about you and your book than you do.

Francis Plug is a key figure in the British literary scene, regularly found in the company of today’s highest profile authors. Based in Tufnell Park, London, he also works as a residential gardener (with very competitive rates). How To Be A Public Author, his first book, was written with the assistance of his amaneunsis, Paul Ewen.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, October 3rd, 2014.