By Julie Wright
As mentioned in last week’s blog, I had to learn to deal with readings and signings and selling myself in general. Things only grew worse with time. People called me to ask me to speak at schools, to speak at church functions, to speak at writer’s conferences. People asked ME to speak.
I guess I’m fussing over this because I’m speaking next month to a thousand teenagers ranging from fourteen to eighteen in age, and I’m flat-out terrified. I think the largest group I’ve ever spoken to is 300. One thousand people. That’s a lot more than 300 for those of you (like me) who don’t do math.
The number terrifies even if the talks are the same.
I share all of this with you, not because I enjoy pointing out my own lack of courage, and the possibility that I will vomit in front of one thousand teenage witnesses, but because if you really want to be an author, you need to prepare yourself for being in the public eye.
Not in the public eye like JK Rowling. It’s unlikely you’ll need a pseudonym to keep the paparazzi at bay, but you will be asked to speak on panels, to teach classes and to give entire motivational seminars for aspiring writers. This means if you’re a victim of chronic stage fright, you might want to take a few speaking classes.
Toastmasters is a great place for beginner speakers. They’ll help polish out your rough edges. They’ll eliminate, or at least diminish, your um’s, er’s, and ah’s. I’d encourage you to give a few evenings to toastmasters to help you out. You can learn about the program and locate the chapter nearest you here:
I heard once that the anxiety caused from having to speak in public actually sets off healthy endorphins in your brain. I have no idea if that’s true or not . . . I likely read it on the internet and you know you can’t trust anything you read on the internet . . . (hey, wait a minute . . .)
Speaking in public really is a great tool. It allows you to connect with your readers and allows you to connect with people who are potential readers. If you fear it--get over it.
And don't forget: it’s all about the staff at bookstores when you do signings.