On Saturday, April 24, 2012, I gave my first public reading from one of my e-stories. Since I’ve been a shy introverted wallflower all my life, this aspect of being a writer was not something I thought about in the early days. If you wrote a great book, somebody published it, and you got to spend your days writing more books. Selling your books was up to somebody else.
If it ever was like that, it isn’t any more. For years I’ve heard that the marketing of a book was landing more and more on the shoulders of the writer. As I looked around at science fiction conventions, listened to well-established authors in the genre, and studied the panel subjects that authors spoke on, I realized that even well-established authors were involved in marketing their books to the public.
I tried to imagine what it would be like, when it was time for me to do a public reading, and I could feel the panic start to choke my voice chords.
That wouldn’t get many books sold.
Obviously, I had to find a way to overcome my panic. Strangely, I’m a bit of a ham, if I have a part in a play. Remembering that told me that I could ‘act’ in front of a group. Maybe all I needed was … confidence?
So I joined Toastmasters, and I attended weekly meetings for about 3 years. Each time it was my turn to compose and give a speech, I wondered if other authors joined Toastmasters and learned to give speeches in order to prepare for their future marketing endeavors. But as I progressed through my assignments, I could tell that I had made a good choice; I went from a trembling blob of panic to a confident speaker. And I enjoyed those meetings so well, that I would probably still be there if my temp job had not made it impossible to attend.
But that wasn’t all I did to prepare. At last year’s World Science Fiction Convention, I attended a panel on “How to Give a Reading.” The person giving that panel had good advice, including such things as, Look at your audience from time to time; project so that the back row can hear you; and read slowly so that your words don’t slur together. Although similar to advice given in Toastmasters, it was good to get it from another source also.
Now, if I could just figure out the bookkeeping aspect of being an author!