The Author Talk

You may find yourself doing an author talk at some point. It’s an odd experience, to toil for so long on a book alone and then be thrust in front of an audience to talk about it, so here’s some tips.

If asked to do a reading, find out how long they want – usually ten minutes. Practice your reading. Record yourself if possible. Learn to read slowly and with care, but also give some life to your characters.

If there is a panel, see if you can find out the questions in advance. If not, or if all the questions come from the audience, try to work out answers to the sort of questions you will always get asked – where did the idea come from, what’s a writing day like for you, who’s your favourite character.

Work out what you’re going to wear in advance and test it. Walk around in it. On stage is no time to discover your shirt is see through in the light, or your shoes give you blisters.

Work out how you’re going to get there beforehand. Try to get there about twenty minutes early, ask where the toilets are. Make sure you have a copy of your book with you. Make sure there is a glass of water for you on stage. Ask how many people are in the audience, and what the sound quality is like.

Before you go on stage, go to the loo. Make sure your flies are closed or that your skirt isn’t tucked into your knickers or there isn’t parsley on your teeth. Make sure your mobile is off and you have your copy of the book.

You will be terrified beforehand. This is normal. It happens to everyone. Your fellow authors may seem cool and careless. They are not. For me, the terror starts about two hours before and rises to a crescendo right before I go on stage. It will go away once you have started, I promise you.

Don’t rush or gabble your reading. Read slowly and clearly. Think about your answers. If someone tells you they don’t like your books, don’t argue, just point out that not everybody can like everything.

Finally – these are fun. It’s great to meet your readers and find out what they think and feel. It’s great to meet other authors, and you’ll make a few friends this way – it’s always good to chat to someone about how mad this all this. As long as you prepare well, the entire event can be very enjoyable.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

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