STATUS: It looks like I’m finally going to go to bed before midnight tonight. First time all week. Yes!
What’s playing on the iPod right now? Not listening to my shuffle at the moment.
When asked in surveys about what people fear most, they reply with the following (and in this order):
1. Public Speaking
Says a lot about what goes bump in the night for some folks but I realized something important tonight when I was at the Association of Booksellers for Children’s dinner at the Copacabana. After all, I had to think some deep thoughts between the cookies and the final dessert.
Public speaking at a forum full of booksellers, and it doing it well, can be a huge endearment to the people who will soon be hand-selling your book to the public.
An uninspiring speaker makes the audience feel the same way about the book. A remarkable, interesting, funny, self-deprecating, and completely charming author speaker makes the audience want to run out and buy that book right now.
That’s exactly what I felt (as well as several people around me) after hearing two terrific speeches from Markus Zusak (author of THE BOOK THIEF) and Watt Key (ALABAMA MOON). We didn’t need to know the plot of either novel. If the book was only half as wonderful as the stories they told to that packed room, we would be satisfied.
That is the power of speech. And dare I suggest that such an ability is one more element that distinguishes a bestselling author from the rest of the crowd in today’s market? (Makes you wonder if a reclusive Salinger-like author could make it in today’s publishing climate and I really have no answer for that.) What I do know is that words are even more powerful when spoken well.
And I know it seems like you need to add yet another item to the long list of what makes a successful author, I don’t think you can ignore this aspect even if the thought of public speaking leaves you quaking in your shoes. I’d get comfortable with it just in case you find yourself in the enviable position of being in a room full of hundreds of booksellers. You don’t want to lose that opportunity.