While Washington, D.C. politicians, pundits and press were yucking it up at their “nerd prom” (otherwise known as the free press dinner), we were in the other Washington, Bellingham, WA, for a nerd prom of a different sort, the Chanticleer writers conference and author awards dinner.
By way of compare and contrast, frankly our nerd prom offered a better view, better writing, and bigger hair! But more importantly, it offered a spirit of generosity and connection that you don’t see much among those politicians and pundits these days. While they were cutting each other down for the cameras, writers and publishers at the Chanticleer conference were lifting each other UP.
The famed Pulpwood Queen Kathy L. Murphy was on hand to encourage those connections, and with her her inimitable ability to get the crowd going and put writers at ease, otherwise shy authors were prompted to talk about themselves and their work.
It was exciting for us to see all the connections being made, to see “old” faces and meet new ones. In chatting with editor and coach, Jennifer Karchmer, we discovered we both were keen to see writers get more comfortable on the book tour trail, doing readings and speaking about their books. She mentioned a post she’d done on that very subject, and we’re including tips from that post below.
Authors & Public Speaking: Boost your confidence and book sales
The reality is not all authors are good at speaking, self-promotion or selling. That’s OK. Writers are good at writing.
Sometimes the speaker is well prepared, confident and engaging, which is enjoyable for the audience. We get valuable information on how to write our memoir or novel. We laugh at interesting stories and leave with a good impression of the author’s work (and a purchased copy of the book). Other times, the author is nervous or uncomfortable or just doesn’t know how to make genuine, or subtle, pitches to buy the book.
Therefore, if you are an author approaching an upcoming book signing, writing workshop or lecture and want to boost your confidence, and more importantly your book sales, here are a few tips:
1) Remember to stay hydrated. Try tea or tepid water. Ice water tends to alarm the vocal cords, whereas a warm drink is more soothing and calming.
2) Pass around one copy of the book during the talk. If they’ve come to hear you, chances are they are old-school book lovers and will enjoy touching the cover, rubbing the book spine and holding it as if it were theirs. Make them envision it on their bookshelf. Also, diverting attention to the book takes the focus off of you momentarily to take a deep breath and relax.
3) Assume everyone will purchase a copy. Use language like “readers like you,” “when you read the book…” (Similar to job interview advice.)
4) Make reference to page numbers and turning points. For example, “By chapter 3, Clarissa was becoming stronger and looking at life in a new way.” Or, “On page 67, she says …” Your audience will begin to connect with plot and writing technique and will want to get to that exact spot to see for herself. Also, those who brought a pre-purchased copy for signing can follow along.
5) Bring something new to each engagement. Your audience will appreciate when you say, “I haven’t mentioned this before during a talk…” Be genuine and your readers will connect with you, and then your writing.