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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Author Talk Report Card

My author event at the University of Maine Augusta went extremely well. Fifteen people, plus six or seven university staff members, came to hear me speak and give a reading.

This might not sound like a tremendous number, but trust me, I've been to many author talks where the audience could be counted on one hand.

I have a particular style when it comes to giving an author presentation.  Too often, authors read entire chapters of their books.  I don't know about you, but I generally don't like being read to for more than ten minutes. 

Most writers I know do NOT understand this.  They embrace the philosophy that they wrote those words, and now you're going to hear them!  It's basically a hostage scenario with verbs instead of guns. = )

My own event style is something I learned from Tess Gerritsen, a writer who prefers to talk about writing and subject matter rather than read large portions of her book.

Her belief, she told me in an interview, is that people can always read the book themselves, but at an event, they want to get more behind-the-scenes info.

Here's an example below:

I kept this in mind when I prepared my presentation. 

Because my book is about my experience with Mormon missionaries, I spent about 20 minutes getting all the typical questions out of the way--what do missionaries do, where do they come from, why do they do this.  Then I spent about 5 minutes doing a reading.  The rest of the time was spent talking about how I got published--something the university staff asked me to address--with about 20 minutes extra set aside for a Q & A.

The presentation lasted about an hour and a half, and I couldn't be happier with how it went.  My biggest fear was that no one would ask a question at the end, but I had about ten questions, one after another.  It's a good sign that people were paying attention.

I'm hoping for more such events, but only time will tell.  I've got a lot of venues to contact, and I'll let you know how it goes.

One person asked for my feelings about self-publishing.  Since my own book isn't self-published, I said I didn't know much about it, but from what I've heard, it can be a hard road to follow.  Self-Published authors don't have a traditional publishing house to help with---well, anything.

The reason I bring this up here is because Michelle Davidson Argyle wrote an extremely candid piece about her experience in self publishing over at her blog.  If you're a writer, you should read it here.

Michelle brings to light something I've always suspected about self-publishing but have rarely heard discussed.  It's a heartfelt and thought-provoking read.


  1. Sounds like it went well. I had one of those where you could count the attendees on one hand, so I know what you mean about 15 being a good showing!

  2. Thanks for the shout out, Dan. I'm so glad the event well for you! :)