The Friends of the College of the Desert Library hosted an Author Reception for me at the historic Shadow Mountain Golf Club in Palm Desert, California. For me, this meant talking about my short story collection Creek Songs. My time constraint was 15 to 20 minutes. If you find yourself needing to prepare a book talk, below are the steps I took to get ready.
First – What did I include in my talk about the short story?
*How the genre became of interest to me
*Where story ideas come from
*My writing style/voice
*Advantages of reading short stories
*Short story length
*Choosing a title for a short story collection
*Awards for Creek Songs
*A three-minute reading – e.g., an opening scene of a story
Second – I practiced the presentation
*To keep on track, I wrote up my script and put it in a notebook.
*I went over the talk until I “knew” it. (At night works for me.)
*On my Mac, I used Photo Booth and videoed myself as I practiced in front of the computer. You can also use a cell phone with a halo light to video yourself. Or have someone video you with a cell phone.
*I wanted it kept tight and professional: fun parts, serious parts, informative, and on script.
*I timed myself to fit the time constraints given.
*I tried to vary my pace, my tone.
*I had a mic. If there’s no mic, project. If there’s a hand mic, keep it close to your mouth. If the mic is anchored, keep close to it. Make sure the mic is operational and suits the acoustics of the venue.
*I kept eye contact with my audience, dropping my gaze to the script as needed, then looking up.
*Avoid reading your presentation. “Eye sweep” the audience.
*The more you give your talk, the more your speaking content and style will develop.
*You’ll discover things you want to include or eliminate.
Third – I timed myself
*“The mind can absorb what the seat can endure.”
*As I practiced, I simply jotted down my starting time and my ending time. (If you’re over, kill some of those babies – as Oscar Wilde said.)
*If parts of your presentation are funny, allow “giggle time” within your overall time.
Fourth – I used my book as a prop
*Eye catching cover – matte finish
*Format of back cover – book blurb, author blurb
*Book inserts – business card, bookmark, how to do a review, any press releases
Fifth – Physical set-up of the room
*In this venue, everything was set-up and ready.
*Know what equipment the organization will furnish.
*Know the equipment you will need to furnish.
*If you are doing a PowerPoint presentation/using visual aids, have everything set up and operational ahead of time.
Sixth – To garner a following and give more talks
*Maintain a presence on social media.
*Join organizations and network.
Seventh – Put you and your work out there:
*Enter contests, do Book Festivals and Expos, submit for publication, give book talks