A Handshake and a Smile

I grew up in the era of the door-to-door salesman. The Fuller Brush Man. The Avon Lady.  Most of them had great smiles and talked really fast. If they had a firm handshake, my mother kept the door open a little longer.

What do a handshake and a smile have to do with being an author?


You may think that you’re selling your book…your words…but, the truth is, in large part, you are selling YOURSELF.

Most of the authors I follow, and read loyally, are people I like. Oh, I’ve not met many of them, personally, but you can learn a lot about a person by reading their blogs, visiting their websites, and so on.

You may be fortunate enough to go to one of their book signings or visit with them at a writers’ conference.

The truth is, if you like them…feel like you connect to them in some way…like the same sports, movies, food…you are more likely to read their books than those of someone with whom you feel a disconnect.

Just saying.

So, when the proverbial shoe is on the other foot, the same goes. A potential reader may catch up with you at a book signing, extend their hand, and before you know it…that’s right, the dreaded handshake.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they shake your hand. Extroverts and those with self-confidence have firm grips. Introverts, with less self-confidence, often show fear or weakness by displaying  cold, clammy, soft, limp, lifeless handshakes.

So, work a little on that handshake. A great one earns respect and will impress others:

A handshake should last only 3-6 seconds.

It should be firm, but not a death grip.  Apply the same pressure as the person you’re shaking hands with. This will convey warmth and sincerity, confidence, and equality.

Make sure to make eye contact and repeat the person’t name, as you shake their hand.

Finally, just like a burger needs a bun, a handshake needs a smile.

So, here are a few hints in that direction:

Displaying a confident smile ensures that people take you seriously.

A true (not fake) smile reaches all the way up to your eyes so that the corners crinkle.

Part your teeth, slightly (this is where good hygiene goes a long way), widen your eyes a little, put your shoulders back, and maintain eye contact.

Remember, when you appear more enthusiastic and motivated, others will see you as more cheerful, attractive, and young…at least that’s what researchers say.

And who wouldn’t want to appear younger?

Finally, I’d say that, as much as possible, let your writing display these same, positive qualities. Let your words on the page exude warmth, caring, and friendliness. Let them be your handshake and a smile.


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