Friday, February 10, 2017

Connecting with Your Audience

Island Branch Library, Holmes Beach, Florida
Presenting at the Island Branch Library Friends Travel and Lecture series was a magical time for me. I was billed as a first time author and would share stories of writing and self-publishing. Since I am a “first time self-published author,” I expected a low attendance. But in fact, about 50 people filled the library’s meeting room to hear what I had to say.

I told the audience that the first thing I do when starting a book is to turn to the back cover and read about the author. I want to know where they live, family, hobbies, pets. I’m looking for a connection. And so that’s how I started my talk, first sharing the story as to how I came to be on Anna Maria Island in the mid-1950s. And telling them how happy it makes me that the 5th generation of our family now comes to the Island each year.

I then went on to share my work background – working in the Cornell office of Dr. Carl Sagan, just post Cosmos and during the development of the scientific paper on multiple nuclear explosions, from which the term Nuclear Winter was coined. From there I explored my work experience in the president’s office of Ithaca College. I explained I now realize that these positions served as my writing/editing preparation. I was constantly exposed to proper use of the English language, and constantly expected to strive for excellence and attention to detail.

So what happened to prompt me to write a book? The audience was hooked as I lead them through the turning point in my life and how plot lines and characters came about. I entertained them with stories as to how the characters change the story. The author isn't really in control.

I also spent time on why I self-published (there were many questions about self-publishing), and walked them through the process. One slide I showed simply stated if anyone is writing and even thinking about publishing – DO YOUR HOMEWORK about publishing options.. I told them that was the only slide they needed to remember from the presentation.

I think we connected so well because I was honest with them. My only goal was to finish a manuscript. I never projected any further than that. The road to publishing was one step at a time. I was at their level, a novice, afraid, and made mistakes along the way, but I dusted myself off and persevered, with eye only on the finish line.  I gave them a few laughs, which delighted me. I tend to be very serious (read: scared) during these presentations as they are way out of my comfort level. But that is all part of the growth that I strive to achieve.

At the end of my talk one woman raised her hand. “I don’t have a question. I just want to say that you inspired me so much. I’m going home and start writing.” I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

Bottom line is my presentation at the Island Library was an exciting event for me and I hope I inspired a number of those present.

1 comment:

  1. So proud of you and looking forward to Caitlyn's next adventure.