Friday, 11 April 2008

Friday Coffee Morning. Smile.

Morning all. Goodness the week has just flown by. Let's have a cuppa and pause for thought.
This morning I'd like to by-pass the technicalities of writing and take a look at the leap writers have to make when they're hoisted up onto the promotional bandwagon.

Some of us are published. Some of us are 'pre-published'. Let's pretend that we're all published and our latest book has caused quite a stir. After months ensconced behind the screen, we're now obliged to stretch our legs, smile and go out to sell our wares. It could be readings. It could be signings, talks, radio, TV.

Writers today it seems, have little choice in the matter. Anne Tyler's reclusive approach works for her but for new writers, PR in some form or other is inescapable. I was talking to a writer the other day who said that promotion is something she hugely enjoys. In fact, it's the bit she likes best. If you're naturally extroverted it must be exciting. If you're more inclined to writing your thoughts rather than verbalizing them, it must pose difficulties. If you dislike being the focus of attention, it could be agonizing.

How do you feel about this aspect of a writer's life? Do you relish the idea or does it bring you out in a cold sweat? For those of you who have experience with going out to do the 'meet and greet', how do you find it? Do you take to it easily or do you have to dig deep to find a side of yourself able to cope with exposure. For those of us who've had no experience, are you chomping at the bit to get out there or do you quake at the idea?

I'm a bit of a quaker but if I'm ever fortunate enough to be in the position, I'd have to feel the fear, find the inner actress and do it anyway. I think.

Have a good writing week everyone.

31 comments:

Helen Shearer said...

Thank you, Lane, for allowing those of us who have not yet have the privilege of going on tour to dream about it. This is as exciting as the week we got to interview ourselves. I have to say, I think the promotional part of being published sounds like a great time, although having never been there, I might be completely mistaken. One of my writing groups had a public reading night a few years back and I really liked seeing the expressions on the faces of strangers when I read my work. It was great fun hearing them laugh at the bits I thought were funny. Writing is such a solitary activity. It must be a huge rush to get out and meet the people who are willing to part with their cash, not to mention their time, to read your book.

I used to be fearful of public speaking but I managed to get over it many years ago and now the thought of being in front of people doesn't intimidate me. The only thing that scares me a little is the possibility that people won't get the joke. I can't imagine anything worse than a bunch of poker faces looking at me after I've read them a passage that I thought was wildly amusing. I suppose the thought that no one will show up at all is a little worrisome as well but, considering the fact that readings tend to occur in bookshops, it can't be all bad. If no one shows up I can call it a shopping trip and move on.

Helen said...

As a former marketing person I am quite looking forward to this part. My only problem is I am struggling to get there as putting pen to paper is so hard for me at the moment. Not in terms of time but like everything I've done for the past year and a bit is one big joke...I am having issues!

But don't worry I gave myself a stern talking to last night so hopefully I'll bounce out of them!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Definitely a quaker! Writing the book is the most fun for me, talking about it to family and friends is exciting but going out into the big wide world to tell all about the last two years of my life is a daunting thought. Sitting in my own space, having no interruption, no one to talk to is my idea of heaven. I mean, what if no one came to the book launch? Or the book signing in Waterstones? Grrr, doesn't bear thinking about!

On the other hand, if I am fortunate enough to be in that position the butterflies will probably just take over. We all want our books to be published and read by the world over so the promoting goes with the job. For me, it will be a challenge. But I thrive on challenges so I really don't know why I'm so worried!

Have a great weekend,
Crystal xx

Fiona said...

I love the thought of writing articles to promote a book. speaking in public or doing book signings makes me feel like pulling the duvet over my head.

I would need a lot of drugs/alcohol/hypnosis - preferably the lot.

Graeme K Talboys said...

I always strike this clause out of contracts, simply because I'm disabled and mostly housebound. I'm happy to do phone interviews and have people come to me, but my publishers have always appreciated the fact that parading a half dead author who looks as if he is about complete the trick isn't good publicity.

Mostly I don't mind, but I do regret missing out on the opportunity to go to Taiwan and talk to people there about museum education.

Cathy said...

Scary, scary, scary!

I'm quite private and hate public speaking,though having had to read my work at the Your Messages anthology launch I can vouch for the fact that a large glass of red wine beforehand does help a lot...

Captain Black said...

I wouldn't mind the publicity aspects of a published writer's life, though I suspect I would need lots and lots of practise to be any good at it.

One thing I would insist on though, is to have personal control over those aspects and not just be at the mercy of the PR machinery.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I dread it! It's not that I'm so dreadful at public speaking, but I always sound like a bloke. My mis-spent youth caught up with me and ripped out my larynx!

OTOH I really want to make plasticine animation of Harold and Jasfoup.

Rowan Coleman said...

I love speaking and I love meeting people so I am very happy to do promotional work. Be prepared though, espcially when you are starting out, for some potentially ego damaging events. Once I was sent to a reading in a library that took a ten hour round trip on the train to reach. When I got there, there were only five people who turned up to the event. One was deaf and kept asking me to repeat myself, one fell asleep (snoring) and another had clearly come for the buffet as most of it ended up in her handbag!! 'Its All Material' That's what you have to tell yourself.

K.Imaginelli said...

In my head, I would love the promo stuff. I'd be witty and endearing~~kind of like Amy Adams. But probably in the moment, I'd feel inarticulate and silly. And since I'm a professor, I'd worry that whatever offhand thing I say about fiction (ie chicklit is lit)would follow me around forever.

Sarah*G* said...

Great topic Lane!
I am not much of a public speaker. Maybe that is why I like writintg as it is just me and my laptop and notebnooks. But when I get passionate about something it can be hard for me to stop talking to people. I think if, sorry make that when, I get published I will be so excited about the whole darn thing that I will talk to anyone anywhere, so long as I get my required 10 hours sleep each night! lol!

Caroline said...

Oh fabulous topic Lane.

I have a love/hate thing with them. I love the idea of them, but hate HATE actually doing it. I get covered in a cold sweat, lose words and often (very often) make a complete tit of myself.

I feel all angst filled just thinking about it :)

Thanks!

x

L-Plate Author said...

Rachel, I sound like a Stokie, that's worse than a bloke! I watch Central news with dread, knowing as soon as some one from the Potteries comes on, I know exactly when to cringe and turn away!

Hi everyone, thanks for the topic Lane, everyone loves this part of the writing, surely? Seriously, just the thought of getting up to speak in front of people brings me out in hives. I suppose it might be different if it is something that I am passsionate about as it might be easier.

I'd just love to get to the stage where I could think about publicity. I do have a friend of mine on stand by however who, being from the pots, is going to do me a job lot of mugs with my book title and a slogan on them, so I can tout them around the shops! He's been waiting a long time though.

Oh and Lane, I didn't want to leave a comment on my blog about rejections so I'll tell you here. I have had four out of five rejections back so far, sending both book one and two out at the same time. I still can't make my mind up what to write next but I also still have book two out in full to one agent. That's the raason I don't want to mention the rejections incase the nice agent reads my blog! You never know.

Have a great weekend guys. x

Kate.Kingsley said...

What a great topic. I’m firmly in the “cold sweat” brigade. I find the idea of being interviewed or questioned utterly terrifying. I’m not great, off the cuff, and I’m one of those people who gets really embarrassed when people ask me questions about myself ~ I’m sure I probably come across as very rude when people ask well-meaning questions of me, but it just makes me want to curl up into a ball! I know I’d panic and say something really really stupid.

And my accent sounds about a billion times stronger in my head than it (hopefully!) does out loud, and that makes me CRINGE.

But hey, I’d LOVE the chance to give it ago ~ a wee bit of public humiliation is a small sacrifice to make to be published.

Ps: I can quite happily get up & act on stage, so why can’t I speak in public?? Maybe I need to develop a character called “super erudite witty author lady” and act the part of her in public ;-)


Wishing great weekends all round.

ChrisH said...

It's great! Honno were kind enought to arrange a book launch for the 'Strange Days, Indeed' anthology. I can recommend it; folks come up and ask you to sign their books!! I am longing for the time when I have a book that is all mine to promote!
Whoah! All this effort has worn me out - I am on the Sofa of Lurgydom feeling awwwffuullll!

Clare Sudbery said...

Oh dear, I'm here cos I'm supposed to be writing and am instead looking for ever mnore procrastinatory activities...

But anyway. Yes, I'm one of the few (?) who not only enjoys all the PR stuff but actively seeks as much of it as I can get hold of! My first book was published by a small pub;isher with very little PR budget, and I suspect that if I wanted to I could have avoided most, if not all, public appearances.

But here's a thing: Before I had ever written so much as a short story, I used to visit author events organised by my partner, who worked for Deansgate Waterstones in Manchester, and I used to think, "Oh, wouldn't it be lovely to have written a book and get to stand up in front of an audience and read from it." I've always said that was part of my motivation for writing a book in the first place!

But then I was already an amateur thesp and performance poet, have always loved being on a stage, am just as prolific with words from the throat as I am from the pen, and into the bargain these days I have a sideline as a semi-professional storyteller (i.e. telling stories live, improvised, completely oral, no written word at all).

With my first book I managed to get myself on various radio programs and on the platform of various small lit festivals, and my finest hour was when I was interviewed on Woman's Hour by Jenny Murray, which I loved. And all I would say to people who feel reluctant is... audiences are always friendly and sympathetic, and if you relax it can be a very enjoyable / rewarding experience. But then, I would say that!

Clare Sudbery said...

As usual I posted my own comment before reading the others, and now I've read them all I've thought of more things to say...

...like about the isolation of being an author. I enjoy my own company or I guess I'd struggle with being a writer, but I do find the idea of spending all day every day on my own a little worrying, so the PR stuff - and for me my sideline in storytelling, as well as presenting the occasional creative writing workshop - help to break up the solitude and balance it by meeting up with a few real human beings (as opposed to imaginary ones).

As for egos and small attendances... oh yes. I'm not famous by any means and my 1st publisher was ony small, so apart from my launches (populated by a healthy dose of friends, relatives and people befriended on the internet) and the larger sessions at the lit festivals, all the events I've done have only been attended by a handful of people. The smalllest, I think, was 3 people. But I never expect anything more than that, so I'm never disappointed. And in a lot of ways the smaller turn-outs work better, because you can engage people in proper conversation, really meet people, and they are then more likely to buy your book! A couple of times organisers apologised to me cos only 7 or 8 people turned up, and I just grinned to myself because in my book, that's a massive turnout.

Oh, and I confess: I love talking about myself (well duh, these comments are a case in point). Awful I know, but there you go. So I love it when people interview me. But I can understand it could be quite a trial for someone more reticent.

Clare Sudbery said...

P.S. Small turnouts: Ask people to introduce themselves to each other, and ask them a bit about themselves. It gets them involved, makes them less likely to fall asleep, as well as taking the heat off you...

Lucy Diamond said...

I was definitely in the 'cold sweat' camp when it came to public speaking but then I was forced into - ahem - gently encouraged into - speaking at a writers' day in Dublin last year, and even though I'd had sleepless nights and a sick feeling of dread for all the months leading up to it, as soon as I had the microphone in my hand I bloody loved it and they had a job shutting me up. And as for people chuckling and ooh-ing at my reading, it was fab. Elation a-go-go.
I guess you just have to push yourself into these things if you are not a natural look-at-me! type but I have done a few now and they are definitely getting easier. Having said which, I'm doing an event next Saturday and REALLY not looking forward to it at all...but I know the adrenalin rush will get me through and my God that glass of wine later will be the best for a long time...

sheepish said...

Well all I can say is if, no when I finish my book, then if, no when I get it published, I will be so over the moon with myself that I will want everyone to know about it and will do whatever is neccessary to promote it.
I did a stint as a teacher [Chemistry if you are interested] which has given me the confidence to stand up and talk about just about anything and sound as if I actually know what I am talking about, which I think could be quite useful.
I also did a "live" radio broadcast in French about my life here which I also enjoyed once I got over the initial nerves. So I think I will be okay and I will definitely enjoy meeting new people, although only if they love my book!!!!!!
An interesting topic Lane which we should all revisit when it has happenned to us all.

A. Writer said...

Great topic. It's lovely being able to dream...

I think I'd panic. I hated doing any solo talks at school/college and I'm not that fond of speaking up in a group now. But I think if push came to shove I'd do it - probably make a fool of myself in the process but at least I'd be remembered!

Having done PR in a college course I know what PR involves and how much work could/would be done.

Happy writing everyone!

wordtryst said...

I've gone from being horrified at the idea of going out and doing promotion, to a sort of fatalistic resignation, to actually looking forward to it.

I'm sure I'll be stressed as hell before an event, though. I also was a teacher for many years, so hopefully that will stand me in good stead. As for hardly anyone turning up at an event - I'd probably be relieved! I quite enjoy small gatherings, but freeze at the thought of addressing a crowd.

Flowerpot said...

I quake at the idea but I'd probably quite enjoy it once I got there. Not sure!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Sorry I'm late. It's been a strange week.

Anyway, I used to be terrified of speaking in public, so I made myself get over it by majoring in Public Speaking in college. It wasn't easy, and I still got a massive case of butterflies when I had to do it, but I don't think anyone ever noticed. Now that I've been living pretty much like a hermit for the past four years, I'll probably have to ramp back up for my first speaking thing (power of positive thinking there since I'm not even close to being published). Still, I think I could do it. Time will have to tell on that one.

Leigh said...

I think I would quite enjoy it. I like people, although I'm not very 'good' at people (thus the publishers might decide that I'm actually better placed behind a locked door), and I believe I would look forward to a book signing (or whatever).

My biggest fear would be that no one would turn up!

liz fenwick said...

Jumping in very late......sorry but it was the boys last few days here in Dubai and it was chaotic.

I think I would be fine on the pr stuff as I have had to do it for the global spouses association I used to be head of.....the only think that worries me would be reading my work aloud. With my dyslexia I never read exactly what is on the page!

Have loved reading everyones answers!

Sean McManus said...

The problem I've found is how to distil all the ideas down into a few neat soundbites for a phone interview. If that was easy, I would have written a short story instead of a novel! It's also hard to hint at the story without giving the twist away. But doing media interviews is a great experience, and it does prompt you to think about the book in a different way. I haven't done a proper meet and greet, but it's nice to receive feedback from readers on which bits they prefered, particularly when different people name different sections.

Debs said...

Sorry I'm so late, I've been away and just catching up with everything now.

I think it would depend on my confidence levels on the day I actually had to speak/promote. I used to be one of those children with a loud voice at school (you could hear my voice at the back of the hall without me shouting from the stage etc) and so have given speeches and been fine.

Great post, I would probably be only too grateful to be asked to promote my book at all.

KayJay said...

Yes, I'm uber-late, had visitors from the UK (hellooo Dairy Milk!) and am still recovering.

Reading my work, no probs. It's nerve-wracking, but once an actress always a bloody actress so it's a good kind of nerves. Meeting people is fine too, I enjoy it and would be hugely grateful to anyone who turned up for anything. Like so many others I do dread speeches, but the reality is usually quite thrilling, even if I do turn puce.

Interviews are another matter. I've done a handful over the years, either as an actor or a producer, and I always talk bollocks. I can't explain the simplest thing and normally experience extreme brain-fart. Talk about forever being haunted by your own words... Maybe that's why I prefer writing; I think I'm missing some essential brain to mouth synapse thingy. (As you can see I'm much more betterer at the writing explanation stuff, like.)

L-Plate Author said...

Hey, I did a presentation in front of 15 people I didn't know yesterday. I pretended that I was promoting my book and it worked a treat! x

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Contrary to common misconceptions I am a very private person, enjoy my creativity but really would be happier if I had someone else to go and sell it to the world and not mention me except afterwards. It is the same whether its my ceramics or my writing. I htink I need an old fashioned patron really!