This week, as you might have noticed, I'm talking about the business end of writing. Surprise! As a published author, you are a business. As a business, there is a long laundry list of what you have to know about being a business entity. Most of it you already know, but some you may not have thought of.
- Accounting and tax laws
- Business license
I hear you groaning out there. And you only thought you had to write a good book. You knew as an indie or traditionally published author, you'd have to do marketing. Even if you are traditionally published there are things you have to do to promote yourself. You'll attend conferences, meet the author events, public speaking events, and book signings.
I'm not going to take these in order. I'm going to hit your panic buttons first. Over the course of a few Wednesdays, I'll cover the other topics list above and even combine a couple.
- Breathe -Everyone has a sense of uncertainty when faced with a room full of strangers. Plaster a fake smile on your face, if you have too. Before long, your smile will be genuine.
- You know at least one person there or maybe two- the coordinator that made the arrangements so it is not a room of total strangers.
- Strangers are people you haven't met yet. Usually before an event there is a general chat session while things are being renailed down. Walk up to a small group of maybe two or three people like you would do at church to welcome new members. No pressure. You don't even have to mention that you're speaking or the anything. Just some general chit-chat.
- You may have your speech written out on cue cards- don't. Instead put one word on each card and a couple of touch points.
- You are the expert on your book. You lived, breathed, sweated and cried about it for months if not years. How many parents cannot think of something to say about their babies? This book or books are your babies.
- You are not talking to a group. You are talking to this person or that person that you already met.
- They all want to be you. That's why they came. Of course, they could have come for the rubber chicken and the overcooked roast beef served at dinner also.
- These people took time out of their busy lives to be here, to learn from you, and meet you because you wrote those books or that book. They are there to support you as an author. They are friends and fans you haven't met yet.
Do you look at events any differently. I've had decades worth of public speaking events.
The hardest one for me was a television spot for the Arthritis Foundation. But I practiced the above. I'd made a point of meeting the person beforehand that was holding the microphone and the camerman. The hard part was looking at the camera alone after I was given the microphone.
I had talked to a couple of actor friends I know, some are quite famous now, about how to ignore the camera and speak naturally. The best advice I got was carry something I cherished with me to place above the lens. I talked to the cameraman, and he agreed to placed my ceramic teddy bear on top of the housing. The teddy bear was one I'd used as a focal point during Lamaze childbirths with my older two girls. It worked. I got through the speech exactly as it was scripted.
Other times, a small object will do. I used to have a key shaped stick pin I'd wear on my jacket, until the pin broken from too much wear and tear. It was my personal key to success. It was a reminder to me that if I wasn't successful, I would not have been asked to speak. Now it's a pen my mother bought me over thirty years ago when I published my first article. She told me at the time, "You'll be signing autographs with this pen on day."
Ya gotta love mothers for their undying love and devotion to their children.The only book I ever autographed with it was hers. It's too precious to me for daily use even more so since her death in 1988.