As Faith mentioned yesterday, David and I will be appearing at Ravencon this weekend. I’m not particularly introverted or quiet – heck, I tend to be the goof in the room more often than not. And this is not a huge con – it’s small and charming and I’ll be surrounded by lots of people I really like. So why am I so nervous?
Because I’ll be reading from my own work for the first time.
Unless you’re a big name author with a print run in the hundreds of thousands, the publisher is not likely to spend much on promotion and advertising of your book. It just isn’t cost effective for them. Most authors have to do quite a bit of their own promotion. Developing a web presence, making friends with local booksellers so they feel like handselling your titles, and going to cons are all part of the process of getting your name out into the world.
Cons are great fun. When you’re not serving on panels, you can attend other ones that appeal to you. You can meet and connect with fans and writing professionals in a more relaxed setting. Sometimes you even get fed candy from Australia! If you have the chance to attend a con, I recommend you take it.
But back to my nervousness…my first con was ConCarolinas last spring. I served on panels and signed books and had a marvelous time. When the program coordinator for RavenCon got in touch for scheduling me this spring, she asked if I’d like to read from my own work. “Sure!” I said. “Sounds great!” But now I’m terrified. This isn’t like serving on a panel with two or three other people to bounce off of. This is me, all by myself. What if no one shows up to listen? What if a whole roomful of people shows up? What if I choose the wrong thing to read and they’re bored to tears? Why would anyone want to hear little old me read in the first place? Arrrggghhhhh!!!!!!
The anticipation of reading my own work out loud feels a little like the first time I had to dance on the Renaissance faire stage. The faire is outdoors, and you can see each and every face in the crowd. There’s no shadowy offstage area for hiding, no room for missteps under the bright autumn sun. As a dancer, I had to learn to plaster on the personality and charm the audience so that even if I spun left when all the other dancers spun right, somehow it looked adorable.
As writers, we’re used to spending time alone with our own thoughts. We’re not always used to putting ourselves out into the world for all to see. It’s dangerous and scary. But I want to charm the audience into reading my work and thinking I’m wonderful.
So I’ll take a deep breath, make a choice of some exciting section from the new book, force my knees to stop shaking, plaster a smile on my face and read ’til I’m hoarse. Even if my husband and my best friend are the only ones who show up. Besides, it’s good practice for when I’m insanely successful and have to read to crowds of thousands.
Hey, a girl can hope. 😀