I never would have thought a few years back that I would need a writer’s resume or a writer’s statement, but I have created both in applying for grants and other opportunities. I know publishers and agents sometimes want to see them too.
Likewise, I never thought about the need to do book discussions with groups of people and to polish my public speaking skills but now I know that is a key component in growing your audience. I’m going to have to get comfortable with this.
Today was my first time speaking to a large group (over 50 people) in a long time. I gave a book review/critique on the Maisie Dobbs series for a series of talks our Friends of the Library holds each winter. People seemed to receive it well. (Particularly the few I saw relaxed enough to sleep in the audience.)
I was asked, back in October/November, to do this talk and I agreed, having never read any of the books in the series. In fact, I leapt at the chance. I figured this was a great way to put something on my writing resume by presenting about stories and also let people know about my own writing.
I was nervous and yet I wasn’t. I had been a little nervous in the morning but as I sat there waiting to begin and watching people filter in, I just felt a sort of happy energy.
The reason I had a little case of nerves as I prepared that morning was that so many people had been telling me how much they loved Maisie Dobbs. I didn’t.
Oh, I enjoyed the historial parts of the books and the writing in general, but there were a number of things that irked me about the characterization and plotting so that I had quite a lot to say.
I was afraid I was in for the wrotten tomatoes, or at least some dirty looks.
But, in the end, several people came up to tell me that I was spot on with my assessment of the books or that they simply really enjoyed my presentation.
I was told by one library volunteer that she enjoyed the talk so much that she forgives me for not loving Maisie Dobbs the way she does.
For those of us who want to break into publishing, I’m afraid this is a necessary skill. If we are going to publish books, we have to become reasonably comfortable talking to people, small and large groups alike, in order to interest people in our work. It’s part of the job. It’s part of marketing.
How to get comfortable? Two things – preparation and practice. I spent several days looking up information surrounding my topic and then writing out my comments and marking quotes to read. I went over it in my mind several times. With our own writing, that won’t be so difficult but it’s best to still have a script of sorts. Then, we just have to give lots of talks.
I think doing author talks via the Internet with services like Skype for minimal or no fees will help increase our audience and reach. I figure, if you can get someone to read your book, you’re on your way. If they really enjoy it, they’ll tell someone else about it, particularly if they had the opportunity to meet the author and ask us questions.
Growing my audience once I have a book out there certainly seems worth the investment of time to me.
Back when I was studying to be a librarian, I learned to create a two sentence book talk that would hook a student’s interest in reading a book. I’ve used that numerous times to put a book in someone’s hands. Someday it will be my book.
Of course, now I’m kicking myself for not handing out business cards for my writing. I think it’s time to visit Vistaprint.