I’m a doctor, not a . . .is a famous catch phrase in Star Trek. I suspect a lot of authors can relate to that. ‘I’m a writer. I write stuff down. You mean I have to open my mouth and speak to a crowd? Holy crap. I’m not a speaker. How can I talk about my book and my writing ‘on the fly’? I write out all of the answers to my interview questions. I go back and edit those answers. And not just once. Uh, I can’t do that when I’m speaking at an author book talk. Help!!!’
This is what many authors think when they’ve finally published their first book and find out they aren’t done yet. The next step is facing interviewers from newspaper companies and radio stations. Then comes the in-person book talks and book signings.
Some writers soak it all in and love it. They’re extraverts and they’re naturals at public speaking. I know some of these people. They’re the lucky ones. They make it look easy. But many authors dread it. I’ve spoken with lots of authors, and many are introverts like me. We write for readers. We long to have them devour our stories and to crave more. We write for people, but rarely with other people. Writing is primarily a solitary activity. We may come out occasionally and engage in critiques and discussions about writing, but then we return to our quiet places where we think and create and write.
Faced with public speaking can be stressful for authors. We are actually torn in some ways: of course we are excited to talk about our books, our words, our passions. But we’re used to editing our words until they are the best they can be. Unedited public speaking is like flying solo without a net. How scary is that? I suppose it gets easier after you’ve done a few book talks. I hope so.
I’ve done only one so far. I sat in the back of a coffee shop with my husband and daughter, and waited for people to arrive. My hands were sweating. Soon we had a group of about a dozen people sitting around several tables that we’d pulled together. Everyone introduced themselves and I began my book talk. It was a wonderful experience because the people who came were interested and supportive. They asked questions and helped me relax. It was great.
But I’m getting ready for two more book talks, one on Thursday night and one on Sunday afternoon. I can feel the nerves revving up again.