2. Someone lacking the requisite constitution to be holding a public event for which he/she is the focal point (i.e. you!).
My advice? Get over it, ya wuss! End of blogpost.
Okay, so maybe that advice isn’t the most useful, so let me give you some actual pointers.
But before we do, I just want you to know that I do qualify as someone who is experienced at being scared to death of humiliating themselves by doing something stupid in public (or even just standing around in public).
Like most writers, it’s my nature to be alone. I guess you could call it my natural habitat. It’s where I feel rejuvenated, happy, and creative. I don’t have to worry that my hair looks stupid, or that I’ve been caught picking my nose or something.
But enough about me being a twat, let’s get onto the list of helpful tips:
- Find a fellow writer or group to join you.
This can be beneficial for many reasons. First, unless your the next J.K. Rowling, you’re going to have a lot of “down-time.” Having a friend to talk with will make it a million times less awkward as you just sit there and stare at people, hoping they’ll come over to talk to you. It can also be a benefit to cross-pollinate your readers groups.
- Get up and talk to people.
Okay, I know this one sounds backwards. How exactly is that a tip for an introvert, anyway? But tell me this, what’s more awkward, politely asking a person to come over and take a look at your book or making eye-contact as they just walk by? Take a play from the girl scout’s playbook and reach out to people as they pass by. I’d be more weirded out by a girl scout who didn’t try to sell me cookies.
- Have ready-made answers to frequently asked questions.
“What’s your book about?”
“Why’d you write this book?”
Etc. The last thing you want to do is mumble about during the moment you should be making your best pitch to sell your book. Keep your stock answers short and interesting.
- Ask people questions.
Don’t let the onus of the conversation rest on the other person. Talk to them and ask them what their favorite books/authors are. Be ready to share a little. It will make the conversation much less awkward.
In the end, it’s something you get better with in time. I am much less afraid of the spotlight now than I used to be. It’s certainly not where I feel most comfortable, but after years of performing, teaching, and giving lectures in and out of classrooms, I’ve found that my first statement, although a little blunt, is actually true.
“Just get over it.” Practice, practice, practice.
I’ll be taking my own advice May 7th. See ya there!