Giving My First Talk as an Author

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Me in full swing!

My first author talk at my local library has now been and gone but I am still glowing from the wonderful evening I enjoyed there. The library staff were very kind in helping me set everything up beforehand and I had a good sized audience on the night with lots of friendly faces. The atmosphere was so welcoming that I hardly felt nervous at all, which I had really expected to. I ‘present’ all the time in my day job but it’s quite a different feeling when you’re talking about yourself. I know from speaking to other writers that the very idea of standing up in front of an audience scares them half to death! If you can do it though, giving an author talk really is worth it.

I had tried to get round my nerves by being very well-prepared and I think this paid off on the night. The plan was for me to talk about my debut novel From Here to Nashville and also my journey to self-publication. I wrote out what I was going to say over a couple of weeks, adding to the script as I thought of new things. Then I transferred it on to index cards, as advised by lots of other writing friends, and I practised to see how long it was, including me reading out an excerpt. All in all, it was 27 minutes long when I practised but on the night with a few questions, it was more like 45 minutes. I also videoed myself at home to see if I had any glaring habits that I wanted to avoid!

Once I had put the talk together, I had a chat with a writer friend of mine who also had a library talk coming up last week. She suggested playing some country music as people came in which I thought was a great idea and some of you may remember of course, that I even had a Spotify playlist already set up of the songs Rachel sings in the story so I added that to my plan. My friend also suggested asking the audience questions to involve them in the talk and to stop it from getting too formal so I did that too.

In the end, these were my headings:

  • How I started writing.
  • The Nashville TV series and how it inspired the idea for the story. Read out my blurb.
  • Writing as a ‘Pantser’ and discovering NaNoWriMo along the way, which led to me investing in Scrivener.
  • Discovering and then joining the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and my first report back from them.
  • Finding an editor, designer and proofreader.
  • Deciding to self-publish rather than trying for a traditional contract.
  • Publication to Amazon and later other platforms. Read an excerpt. Talked about trip to Nashville.
  • Marketing post-publication – social media activity, including this website and blog.
  • My next books.
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Talking to another RNA member who happened to come along!

One of the things I had to think about very carefully was what technology I would be able to use. The library is all set up for the internet but it isn’t working there currently. This meant I had to do screenshots of the things I wanted to show which could have been boring on their own. So I added in some content to my presentation to go with the shots as well. There were a fair few pictures of my books and I also had a table set up with my books and marketing materials on as well.

The library organised a projector and screen for me and we arrived early to set it all up and make sure it worked correctly. I had to take our bluetooth speaker from home so that we could play the music because the library didn’t have any speakers. I made a list of all the things I would have to take with me and checked and double-checked it before going!

As I said, everyone was so welcoming that I was fairly relaxed from the start. My daughter took some videos of me and my husband took some photos so we have something to remember it all by. I suppose I will have to give in and let you see one of the videos now!

I took a few questions afterwards as well over refreshments and I also sold signed copies of my books. In fact, I sold more copies than I have ever done before at an event of this kind!

So, all in all, as I said at the beginning, it was a very good experience. It was really hard to approach the library in the first instance but once I did, they were very encouraging and happy to help me with promotion and setting up along the way. As I hadn’t had the courage to send out a press release when I first published From Here to Nashville (I know!), this was a good opportunity to write one so that I know what to do next time round. So there were many benefits to doing this, not just the obvious ones.

I suspect that most libraries would welcome local authors with open arms as they try valiantly to keep people coming through their doors so if you love your local library as much as I love mine, then why not give it a try? You might be surprised at how much fun it is! Do leave me a comment below to tell me how you feel about the idea or maybe you’ve already done one so please share your experience 🙂

22 thoughts on “Giving My First Talk as an Author

    • Thank you, Ros. I hope it’s helpful, there didn’t seem to be much advice out there when I was thinking what to do for mine. It was a great evening and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to do more now!

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  1. We have author visits at our library branch, but it’s in Australia Julie!! Well done on your first novel, and I just LOVE Nashville, have just finished Season 3. Will let you know what I think of your book in due course 😊

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    • Now that would be a challenge! You never know I might make it there one day 😉 Thanks for your good wishes. I feel envious now that you’ve watched all 3 series in quick succession like that – they’re just so good! I really do hope you enjoy the book now 🙂

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  2. Hi Julie. I knew you could do it! Well done, and also for giving some excellent tips. I am cross that I tried to put your video on and it packed up after the first couple of sentences. But you looked very confident after all your initial worries. x Oh, it’s come back! You were great! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Denise! You were right. I’m so used to speaking in front of others and there was no fear about forgetting what I was going to say which made it much easier! I’m glad the tips were useful and that you managed to get the video working 🙂

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  3. Really well done Julie! Sounds like the talk went brilliantly. You’re absolutely right that libraries really need the support of writers, especially at the moment, and if doing a talk can help then I may give it a go as I love my library too 🙂

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    • Thank you, it did seem to go really well 🙂 I’m sure if you approached them, they’d be very happy for you to give a talk, especially for your market of readers 🙂

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    • Thanks, Sam. It was a lovely evening and I hope it is useful for you and others to prepare for your own talks. It’s only my guide but it’s just kind of good to see what others are doing 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Patsy. It was interesting and great fun as well. I’m sure your local library would be glad to have you speak.

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