Sunday nights are double-dose guest blog posts and the first of tonight’s duo, ‘writing is ageless’ by J Griffith Mitchell, has already gone live. Tonight’s second guest blog post, on the topic of live events, is brought to you by multi-genre author and interviewee Terri Morgan. See below for details of the giveaway.
I think one of the reasons I became a writer was because I’m much more comfortable writing about things than talking about them. I can hold my own in conversations with friends, colleagues, even small groups of unfamiliar people, but the thought of speaking before a group of strangers had never appealed to me. Writing, for me, is an ideal way to communicate with multiple people because it allows me time to organize my thoughts, express them, and then polish my message before sharing it with others. It’s a strategy that has served me well during my career as a freelance journalist, and I saw no reason to change it even after I published my first novel.
Never say never. I quickly discovered that if I wanted to get the word out about my book, Playing the Genetic Lottery, I had to do a lot more than just tell my friends and brag about my accomplishment on Facebook. Still, when a friend of a friend suggested I talk about my novel at her local service club, I was apprehensive. Despite my concerns, I agreed to be the guest speaker at one of the club’s weekly lunch meetings, especially after she told me I could bring books with me to sell.
I had two weeks to prepare for my public speaking debut, and enlisted the help of friends to craft a speech. Then I rehearsed my talk and practiced reading the prologue of my book aloud. Finally the big day arrived, and I nervously made my way to the podium and faced 45 members of the local Rotary Club. A funny thing happened mid-way through my talk. The butterflies faded, and I started to enjoy myself. By the time my talk was over, I couldn’t wait to do another one.
I sent e-mails to a dozen or more local service clubs, offering my services as a speaker and followed up with phone calls. I found that many service clubs are looking for speakers, and that people are very interested in meeting a local author, especially one who is eager to talk about their book. When I make the arrangements to talk, I ask the facilitator about their club and its members. That helps me to tailor my talks to each different audience. Some groups are more interested in hearing about how I came to write my novel, which is a fictional memoir-style tale of a strong and resilient woman who grew up with two schizophrenic parents. Some groups are more interested in finding out about self publishing; others want me to talk about mental illness. I keep my talks short. I speak for about five minutes, read from the prologue of my novel, then talk for another five minutes or so. Then I open up the presentation for questions. Most of the time, the question and answer period goes on much longer than my talk and reading. At the end I thank the group for hosting my talk, and mention that I’d be happy to sign copies for anyone who wants to purchase one.
After my first talk, I’ve settled on a strategy that helps make my talks more successful. I try to arrive at each meeting at least 15 minutes before the official start to introduce myself to the facilitator and to get set up. I had a 2-foot by 3-foot poster made of the book cover, and display it on an easel as a visual aid. I bring at least a dozen books, and arrange them on a table, along with my promotional postcards and fliers listing resources people can use to find out more about mental illness. I keep another box of books in the trunk of my car, just in case there are a lot of people who want to buy a copy. I bring a cash box loaded with one dollar bills and quarters so I can make change for people, (my book, with tax, sells for $16.25) and I bring several pens for signing books. I also bring a small notebook, to jot down phone numbers, websites, names and tips and suggestions from the audience. Most importantly, I bring a friend, both for moral support, and to handle book sales after my talk so I can concentrate on signing books and talking to readers.
So far, my sales have not been overwhelming, but I have sold copies at each appearance, and consider each talk as another way to reach future readers. A lot of books are marketed by word-of-mouth, and I know each book buyer will tell other readers about my book, and that many others in the audience will tell people about my presentation. Best of all, I’ve discovered it’s very enjoyable to meet new people, talk about my book, and answer (or try to anyway) any questions that people have.
Thank you, Terri!
Terri Morgan is the author of nine books. Playing the Genetic Lottery is her first novel. It is available as an e-book for $4.99 and a paperback for $14.99 through her website: http://terrimorgan.net, amazon.com, Smashwords, and through selected bookstores in California and the UK.
Terri has also kindly offered a free Smashwords download of Playing the Genetic Lottery to everyone who leaves a comment (below) regarding her blog post, in the forthcoming week (up to / including Saturday 24th November). Within your comment please confirm you are happy for me to forward your email address to Terri… thank you!
- and from this blog, articles from: Bill Munro, Catherine Lundoff, Christopher Profeta, CS Lakin, Gary Showalter, Eric Muss-Barnes, Heather Green, Jamie Cawley, Jane Wenham-Jones, Judith Marshall, Kathryn Jones, Kim Dalferes, Lev Raphael, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, Rachel Abbott 1, Rachel Abbott 2, Robert Rosen, Sarahjane Funnell.
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