Your book is finally in print. The next step: your platform. Social media, blogs, book signings, public talks.
Whoa. Public talks? Stand up before a crowd and speak? No way.
OK. Take a deep breath. You wrote the book, sweated over every page. No, over every word. And it came together. Seeing that cover art for the first time, you breathed that deep sigh of relief. That smug sigh of self-satisfaction. If you can put down coherent thoughts on paper, you can make a talk. But first, do your homework.
Know your crowd. Seniors, teens, school kids, professionals. Each will have different interests, different ideas on how a speaker should dress or talk. But here’s the good news: if they’re not interested in your book’s genre, they probably won’t come to hear you speak. So come up with something to say that reflects what you’ve written and they’ll love it.
Write down an outline. Have a catchy beginning, just like your book. You need a middle and an end, too. Keep them wanting more.
Talk about yourself, but don’t overdo it. How you started writing, what qualifies you to write your book, especially if it’s nonfiction. Oh, you write about zombies and haven’t offed any lately? Maybe why zombies interest you and why the reader should care, too. Also, it’s not a good idea to read directly from the book. Paraphrase and speak from the heart.
Practice your speech ahead of time. Do it in front of a mirror, or even better, a friend or family member who’ll give honest feedback. If all you hear are good comments, find someone else. This is not unlike a writing critique group.
Dress appropriately. Sure, everyone at the local library may show up wearing jeans and tees, but business casual is never too dressy when addressing a crowd. Speaking before business leaders? Coat and tie for men or appropriate business attire for women. Not sure? Always dress better than your expected audience rather than more casually.
And now, the day has arrived, the speech is at hand. Those butterflies are fluttering, your heart is pounding. The emcee announces your name and you head for the podium. When you get there, stop.
Arrange your notes, take a deep breath, and make eye contact with the audience. Now smile, because they’ll hear it in your voice. Only then do you speak, and when you do, talk to the people in the back row. If they can hear, so can everyone else.
Make a mistake? No prob. Laugh at yourself. Public speaking is an acquired skill and everyone in the audience knows it. They’ll understand.
Bring some books. It’s a great place to sell them.
And here’s the most important thing: have fun and make it show. Everyone else will, too.
-- George Goldthwaite, DFWWW Member since 2009, The Voice of the DFWCon Gong Show since 2011
photo credit: WilliamMarlow via photopin cc
As some of you may remember, last year one of our very own was crowned. Now, DFWWW member Tex Thompson swings onto the other side of the ropes to judge, along with a distinguished panel that includes: Jonathan Maberry, Katie Grimm Margaret Bail, Sarah Negovetich, Brittany Booker, Candace Havens, Lydia Kang, and Tiana Smith. (For those who just can't be bothered to click on the links, that's a list of some industry elite. Agents, authors, editors, and the like. Fancy stuff.)
Wondering about the rules of WRiTE CLUB?
- You MUST talk about WRiTE CLUB – Spread the word
- You DON’T talk about WRiTE CLUB – Once the bell sounds for round one, keep it quiet.
- If someone taps out, WRiTING is over.
- Only two people to a WRiTE.
- Two WRiTE’s per week.
- No shirts, no shoes…well, actually, your WRiTE attire is up to you.
- WRiTES will go on until Aug 18th.
- Anyone can WRiTE, but you have to have your submission in by May 31st.
With guidelines like these, how can one resist? To get the finer details, visit DL Hammon's site.
We can’t wait to see you in the ring!
This past weekend, I attended my second DFW Writers' Conference. It was better than the last one. Or maybe I was better. I think with a big event like this, you need one run for practice before you get the hang of it.
Here are some things I learned:
Donald Maass (a) is a colossal nerd, and (b) has a name that ends in "SS" not just "S" as I keep wanting to type it.
He's the best kind of colossal nerd - a fantasy fan and gamer who loves that stuff and wants to share his love with other people. He's also an incredibly nice guy who will go out of his way to make you feel welcome and valued in any conversation. And he has a wicked-sharp sense of humor.
Jonathan Maberry (a) is a really awesome guy, and (b) has only one "Y" in his name despite my urge to type in another every damn time I write it. (No H, either.)
He is also a colossal nerd, both in nerdiness and size. Seriously. Jon Maberry will mess you up. He's huge. In a fight of Jon Maberry and a full-grown Kodiak bear... I'd bet on the bear unless the spread was really crazy. But I'd check the odds, just in case. And he's also warm and friendly and loves to share geeky stuff.
Literary Agents are really nice people.
This year, I volunteered to wrangle an agent (i.e. act as a guide, gofer, and chauffeur). I'd imagined the job would be kind of difficult, but that it would be worth it for the networking opportunities.
Instead, it was one of the easiest things I've ever done, and more than worth it for the networking opportunities. Margaret Bail, of the Inklings Literary Agency, is incredibly friendly and easygoing. She was great to work with, and about as low-maintenance as I could have imagined. And she wants to see my book when it's finished, which is awesome.
What I got for my (minuscule) trouble was the chance to hang out with other agents at dinners and lunches, where I learned a lot about the publishing business and made connections.
So if you're with the DFW Writer's Workshop and you're attending next year's Conference, be first in line to offer to wrangle an agent. It's the opposite of traumatic, and it's a great opportunity.
Keep track of your schedule.
Again, this is kind of obvious in retrospect. I did a great job keeping Margaret's schedule straight. I plugged all her events into my Google calendar, which fed me alerts all day. But I forgot to put my OWN events in the calendar, so I missed my Saturday critique session. Oops.
Don't be shy. Les Edgerton says so.
And really, don't be. Talk to people. Almost all writers are wallflowers who are each secretly hoping someone else will initiate conversation, and the agents ACTUALLY CAME TO THE CONFERENCE to talk to you. They did it on their own time, too. They are here for the express purpose of listening to you talk about your book so they can decide if they'd like you to submit it.
Thanks to Kirk von der Heydt and the rest of the Conference Committee for a great conference. Thanks to all the agents, editors, and speakers. Without you, the conference would be a hollow shell of itself. Thanks to everyone who made it a fun, educational weekend full of opportunities. And good luck to everybody. I hope this conference results in some book deals.
I look forward to seeing you all next year. And if you could each bring roughly .3 friends, that'd probably be good.
Well, don't literally bring a fractional person. 1 in 3 of you bring one friend. Or something like that.
-- David Goodner, DFWWW Member since 2012 *(This essay originally appeared in slightly longer form on The Astounding Mr. Goodner's Amazing Electric Widgets blog. Check it out, because it's good fun!)
We’d like to congratulate workshop members George Goldthwaite and Melissa Lenhardt for representing us so well at the Frisco Library. They both brought home the prize for Henery Press’s First Chapter Contest. The kicker: Only one person should have won, but the judges couldn’t narrow it down. Apparently when deciding between a DFWWW member and a DFWWW member, the choice is clear.
The good news for these two doesn’t stop there.
The Durant Public Library has asked George to be their feature author speaker for the Spring Brown Bag Luncheon. If you live up north, catch him on Thursday, April 24 at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center and Library. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. You can hear him speak at The DFW Writers’ Conference as the Gong Show's incredible baritone emcee.
And as for Melissa, she recently published a short story with The Western Online entitled Bal Masqué. It’s fantastic piece, but we especially love Melissa’s initial impetus for writing it. Her late father loved John Wayne westerns and Lonesome Dove, and this one is for him. We’re awfully grateful that we get to enjoy it too.
End story: Our cup runneth over. Come (metaphorically) drink with us any Wednesday night at 7:00 pm at The Simmons Center in Euless. Because we think there may be something in the water…
All we can say to that is: Yes indeed, Ms. Owen is one of ours. You can’t have her. But if you must, you can have her book. All you have to do is click here to make it so. And if you want to know a little bit more about Kate, check out the author interview she did for Babblings.
All good stuff.