I can remember a joke on Seinfeld where Jerry said that most people would rather be the person in the casket than the person giving the eulogy at a funeral. I don’t know that I’d I’d rather be in the casket, but public speaking terrifies me.
In college, public speaking was a required course for my English minor and I hated every second of it. My final exam was to speak to the class for 45 minutes, so I chose the controversial subject of the death penalty. This actually worked out well for me because people were speaking out and it took the attention off of me. 🙂 For another speaking exam, I devised a how-to class where I taught everyone how to make a dessert (peanut-butter apple smiles). I’m a nervous, fidgety person and keeping my hands busy during the dessert demonstration helped. Plus, whenever someone needed help, I was able to leave the podium, which was a huge relief.
As an author, I’m faced yet again with public speaking, but this time, it’s my book. The opening scene of Winter’s Curse is of my protagonist and her mother fleeing their homeland, and there’s a lot of yelling over the roar of a diesel powered ice-breaker, and the sounds of pulverized Arctic ice. So, what? Am I expected to yell at an audience of possible would-be buyers? How much am I supposed to act this scene out, vocally?
I’ve talked to experienced authors about this and they tell me everyone gets nervous and that it’s perfectly normal. Some have suggested I just drink a glass of wine. How about I take shots between words? 😉
“They’re *gulp* coming, *gulp* Winter *gulp* hurry!” *gulp* *drops book* Heyyy you guyszzz, I wrotes a book… *falls to the ground drunk*
Ok, so maybe that won’t work…
So, what does work? Fortunately for you, I have scoured the web searching for tips from industry professionals! Let’s examine some of them:
Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn says the reason to read your book aloud to an audience is to showcase your talents while making the audience desperate for more. She suggests a time frame of 5 – 8 minutes, maximum. She also suggests rehearsing, having water on hand, and visiting the venue ahead of time.
Fred E Miller of No Sweat Public Speaking suggests picking a variety of material to read, including newspapers, magazines, and children’s books. The purpose is to pay attention to your pronunciation, enunciation, projection, inflection, cadence, and even your pauses. He even suggests listening to a recording of yourself, so that you can correct your verbal delivery.
Author Judy Croome wrote a guest post on The Book Designer about her first experience holding a live author event. She suggests reading aloud to your cat to prepare, and to invite your friends and family to the event to pad the numbers. She also says, that even if only one person shows up, to remain professional, and thank that person for attending.
Alan Rinzler, a consulting editor of The Book Deal: A Blog for Writers, suggests video recording yourself as you rehearse. He also suggests engaging with your audience, (for example, not burying your nose into the book and instead making eye contact with the audience, occasionally).
Are you an author who has had a book reading, or a public speaker who has something to contribute to this discussion? Do you have any tips for me? I would love to hear your experiences! Please leave your thoughts below!
By the way… (you didn’t think I wasn’t going to mention my book, did you? 😉 ) Yesterday I received a fabulous 5 star review from Patience of The Accelerated Reader Blog for Winter’s Curse! Please check it out and show her some love! You can visit her site and see the review, here!
A highlight of the review:
“I really ENJOYED this book! I loved all the characters, the plot, the descriptiveness, the romance, well let’s just say I enjoyed everything!!”
Please note: Winter’s Curse will be available for purchase late October, 2016!