Public speaking is a necessary evil for many authors. Although there are authors who love being in front of audiences, and who are good at it, I’m betting there are many more who absolutely dread it. Whose stomachs churn and turn, worrying about becoming tongue-tied in front of all those people eager to hear about their new book.
I’m an author who falls somewhere in the middle. Yes, I get nervous butterflies leading up to the event., but once I get talking, I realize I’m not doing too bad. In some ways it’s like jogging: the best part of public speaking is when it’s over and your signing books and thanking people for coming. Knowing you survived.
The reason I chose this topic to blog about is that my new book, PRAY FOR THE GIRL, came out in April and I’ve been doing a lot of talking about it. The book launch at Longfellow Books went splendidly and I thank all my friends who showed up to support me. Then there’s been podcasts and radio shows. Then at the end of June I’ll be appearing on the Cold River Radio Show up in North Conway, NH. The show takes place in Theater in the Woods and I’ll be speaking to an audience of nearly three hundred people about the writing life and my new novel. It’s the largest crowd I’ve ever appeared before and I’m excited and nervous and everything above.
The transition from writer to public speaker is a difficult one for many authors. We hole ourselves up for months at a time, sometimes years, being hermits and living in our own world; worlds that we created from nothing. So then to transition to an extroverted public speaker can sometimes be difficult.
Like writing, public speaking is all about confidence, experience, and knowing your subject (and audience). The more you do it the better you become at public speaking. In the past, I used to write out my entire talk and then try to remember chunks of it, but I soon learned that doing it that way is the worst way to address an audience. Now, I frame a series of talking points and simply speak from the heart; treat the audience like they’re a good friend sitting next to me at the bar. Using this method has helped me be more natural and authentic, and has made me a better public speaker. And I think that’s all an audience really wants from an author. Of course no one would accuse me of being a gifted orator, but at least now I can stand up in front of people and do a decent job. Or, I should say, not make a fool out of myself.
Things will start slowing down soon as the publicity for PRAY THE GIRL wanes. In the meanwhile, I’ll be readying myself for my next book launch in May of 2020. That’s when my new domestic thriller comes out, THE PERFECT DAUGHTER (Kensington), and I’ll be starting up the public speaking process all over again. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my author talk in the shower and singing the blues.