Thursday, June 04, 2015

Book Talks

Okay I am coming to you in preparation for my book talk on Sunday. (I am counting on Bryon to handle things in NY)

I am sure all of you have been to a book talk or signing. I have been to a hundred probably. What do you like included in a book talk? How long should it last-how much should I read, how much should I talk about my evolution, how much about the book.

If I already asked this, I apologize but I am kinda panicking having no experience with public speaking. And most exasperating is the constant flow of people who say they are coming and then say that they are not. Yikes! Will I be talking to ten people or 40.


Todd Mason said...

10 sometimes is better than 40 or a hundred. Read only as little as possible, and prep yourself there to read dramatically, not hammily. Talking about why you wrote the book, and how, and why you're happy to be presenting your novel (and yourself) in that forum is more what a lot of the audience might be more interested in...treat it like a big conversation, and it usually works better.

Deb said...

I prefer talk that focuses on the writer's evolution as a writer: childhood influences, drawbacks and breakthroughs. I prefer not to discover too much about their current book especially if I haven't read it yet. But relax--I know you'll do wonderfully well!

/Easy for me to say, I know.

seana graham said...

As someone who worked in a bookstore for a longtime, I think Todd has it right. It would be great to find a section that leaves the audience wondering what happens next. Leaving time for a question and answer section is a good idea, although it's probably better to keep that fairly brief too, as even if you have fascinating answers, the questioners may not all pose great questions.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Make ure Phil has a couple of questions ready if there is a lull.


I'm sure you'll be great. I've seen you moderate panels. Unlike me, you can talk in public.

Jeff M.

Todd Mason said...

Yes, Phil as plant in audience isn't the worst idea, and cetera. Veteran of a number of bookstore and convention sessions, and similar presentations, some of which I was host and/or participant. A long reading will definitely tire both you and the audience, and general background is also useful to give the folks a sense of where you're coming from.

Relax and breathe, and you can walk away if the attendance is too negligible and no one's interested (the Marcia Muller talk where I introduced her to an audience of six including me, and I was the only non Muller who knew who she was), but interested parties are still interested parties (I certainly didn't organize the Muller presentation at the Borders at that time).

R.K. Robinson said...

The trite but true advice is relax, be yourself, seem like you're glad to be there. As for the reading, a scene, with a little suspense, or two at most, I think. It's not story hour, it's "doesn't this sound cool?" If you're feeling, or just get, nervous, it's okay to admit it. After all the truth is, and you can say it, is "I'm nervous because I want you to love my book as much as I do."

Good luck! (not that you'll need it)

Yvette said...

My two cents:

I haven't been to many book talks, Patti. (Don't get around much anymore.) But the couple I've been to have been fortunate: one was with Robert Crais who I couldn't help swooning over so who knows what he said. And the other was Lee Child over whom I also swooned. :) So I'm hopeless and hapless and what good am I.

At any rate, Lee talked a bit about the book, read a few pages and then threw it open for questions. That's when he answered about his writing routine, life and so on. I'd say wait to see if anyone asks about your approach. Then you'll know they really want to hear it.

Just be yourself, Patti. Everybody likes a person who is natural - they'll all know you're nervous especially if you say that this is the first time you've done this sort of thing. I can't help but think you'll be a hit.

P.S. Don't be surprised if someone asks about your daughter's writing too.

Margot Kinberg said...

I think it's wonderful you're doing a book talk, Patti! I like it best when those things evolve into conversations, rather than presentations. Feed off the audience and let them feed off you.

George Kelley said...

Remember that these people have chosen to come and see you. They're on your side! I would treat them as if they were guests. Entertain them and answer their questions. It's okay to feel a little nervous (it shows you care).

Dana King said...

George nailed it: the WANT to be there.

I've done a couple of these. The format worked so well for me the first time, I used it again, and it worked just as well. I speak for just a few minutes--five, maybe--about the book, and how I came to write it. I then read a short chapter or two--no more than ten minutes. After that, quesitons from the audience. Everyone went home happy.

The big thing is to have fun. It's a rare opportunity to talk about writing to an audience that came specifically to listen to you talk about writing. Go with it.