MAI TAI to MURDER has barely hit the bookshelves, and I'm already penciling in dates on my calendar--well into 2008--for promotional events. Since this is my third book, I'm no longer surprised that the majority of these functions (ladies club luncheons, sorority meetings, book clubs, library events, churches and book fairs) will include invitations to SPEAK. This is based on the assumption, of course, that if one can write, then one can speak; that microphones, podiums, Power Point presentations, and stapled-together-handouts are natural extensions of the computer and keyboard. It's almost as if the publishing contract becomes a magic wand, tapping our heads (or goading our butts out of our office chairs), and then wham--like Pinocchio becoming a real boy--we are changed. We're no longer solitary creatures in baggy sweats, sucking down coffee and mumbling to our muses; we're donning a blazer over our very best sweats, popping Altoids, fumbling with index cards, and "test, test-ing" microphones . . . .
In my former life, as an ER nurse, I was required to do some public speaking--whenever I lost at the nurses' frantic game of paper-scissors-rock, and had to grit my teeth and wade out into the crowded waiting room. To explain to (extremely hostile) would-be patients (for the umpteenth time in 12 hours), that "due to unforseen circumstances, there will be a delay in getting you to the the treatment area . . . " I also got pretty good at dodging the resultant flurry of wadded up and hurled MacDonalds' bags, greasy airborne french fries, colorful curses, and . . . spit.
So for me, while I'm no polished pro, speaking at book events isn't so bad. Or too stressful, since I write comic mystery and people expect me to be more of a goofball rather than some intellectual literary type. Plus--so far--no one's pelted me with french fries. All good.
I know that a few of us "Inkers" have backgrounds that must make these book events a cinch, like Joanna Campbell Slan, who is actually a professional public speaker and wrote a book on the subject; Nina Wright who has a theatre background as do Chuck Zito and Susan Goodwill. Hey, maybe I'm the only one who's a rookie here.
So, how about it folks? Speaking events as book promotion: love them, dread them? Do you have a shtick or do you just feel shtuck?