Friday, September 30, 2011

Public Speaking -- Part of the Writing Job

I'm a published author with a well-respected publishing house (Tor), and I'm working very hard to make this writing gig stick.  A lot of writers believe that all they need to do to be a successful writer is just write a book, but that is not the true reality of a modern day author.

I work hard at promoting my published novels by doing everything from podcast interviews to guest blogposts to book signings to speaking at events.

Yes, my dear fledgling writers, I do the one thing most writers dread doing:  I speak in public.

Yep, this is how I feel right before a speaking engagement.
I really never imagined that public speaking would become a part of the writing gig until I was invited to my first author panel in 2009 at Horror Realm.  I wasn't even sure how I would fare.  Even though I had done a lot of public speaking for my previous day job, I did not realize I would have to transfer those skills to my writing life.  I was relieved when I survived that first panel and realized that despite my dread of the event, I could speak about writing and my career before an audience and do just fine.

In fact, I have come to enjoy sitting on panels.  Panels are fun because I get to sit with other people in the industry and listen to various points of view.  I do have to remind myself to shut up and let the others speak because once I get rolling it's hard for me to stop.  I am passionate about writing and get carried away. I have learned to get to my point and keep it as short as possible.

I am now starting to participate in workshops and other speaking engagements.  Strangely, people have been contacting me to do these type of events, not vice versa.  It is very flattering to be asked to speak at events and I take these gigs very seriously. It's a great opportunity for me to connect with other writers and hopefully encourage newbie writers as they embark on their careers.  I also enjoy meeting fans and speaking to them about my work.

I am told I'm very good at these type of events and I do enjoy them immensely.

Except for the first five minutes...

The first five minutes of any speaking engagement is sheer hell.

I am always terrified when I stand before a group of people (large or small) and I literally have to force myself to start talking. Despite my absolute fear and anxiety in the first moments of a speaking engagement, I make the mental choice not to let myself freeze up.  I concentrate on positive thoughts before I so I have a genuine smile on my face before I start.   And I basically fake it for the first five minutes or so when I start talking.  I pretend that I am capable and able to speak intelligently and that I am not scared out of my mind.  At some point, I relax and my negative emotions vanish.  I then enjoy the rest of my time at the engagement.

Though I was originally afraid of public speaking engagements, I have no come to embrace them as an opportunity to give back to starting writers and the fandom.


  1. I love getting other authors' reactions to public can be such a mixed bag. I enjoy the hell out of it. I got a little emotional near the end of my first public reading when it set in how badass it was that I got to do stuff like this, but other than that...I'd played music in front of people for years before ever attending a convention, so I was good to go.

    It's a good thing that you can squeak through the first five minutes to rock the rest of the engagement...because I can definitely tell, and I'm sure you can too, when an author just isn't feeling it. Dynamic definitely = better. =D

  2. I'm feeling more confident with each event I do.


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