Therese here. I’m so pleased to introduce you to today’s guest, author Allie Larkin. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Allie in real life (IRL!), and I can tell you she is down to earth, extremely funny, and a true storyteller. Her second novel, Why Can’t I Be You, is as entertaining as Allie herself. It’s the story of a woman who is mistaken for another person, who then decides to slip into that person’s skin for a while before ultimately recreating herself. Said Romantic Times Book Review:
This is a fun and quirky read for anyone who always wondered what it would be like to live life in someone else’s shoes. Readers will likely identify with the main character, and will definitely enjoy the crazy ride along the way thanks to Larkin’s breezy and light writing style.”
Allie’s here to share some of her savviest public speaking tips with us. Enjoy!
Don’t go on TV with your fly open, and other tips from me to you.*
Remember that movie where Brendan Fraser spent 35 years in a nuclear fallout shelter before he was thrust out into the real world?**
Writing a book reminds me of that. The time we spend working on our novels is anti-social time spent in pants with elastic waistbands. Then the book comes out, and all of a sudden our jobs change. After months (or years) of purposeful brooding and solitude, we’re in the spotlight, out in the world, promoting something that probably still feels a little bit private and so very dear.
It’s culture shock, and my first time around, I longed for advice. So here are some tips to help you brave the great big world of book promotion and real pants:
Own your expertise. You are the leading authority on your book. No one else in the world knows as much about your characters or your story as you do. Don’t be nervous about answering questions. You have the answers.
Picture the audience in their clothes. For the love of all that is good in the world, ignore the age-old advice about public speaking and underwear. People in their underwear will either gross you out, leave you feeling more awkward, or make you think, ‘Damn, they look good!’ None of those scenarios will help you speak better in public. Picture the audience as a group of good friends. Chat with them accordingly. And if you need to, practice your reading in front of a group of friends ahead of time.
Banish your verbal tics. Do you like and um your way through life? A few weeks before your book comes out, ask good friends and family to charge you a nickel for every like, um, or other significant vocal tic.
Learn your best camera angles. This is helpful for author photos and for photos readers will take at events. I know it seems silly, but when a dear, sweet reader tags a photo of you on Facebook that seems to highlight all the things you’re most self-conscious of, it will bother you. Then it will bother you that it bothers you, because vanity is the devil’s hooha or something like that. This is a fabulous guide, here, and knowing what you’re doing will make you feel less awkward about having your picture taken.
Remember: Spanx are your friend. Even if you’re skinny, they’ll help your clothes drape nicely and keep what should be covered under wraps. Added bonus: Spanx are like a Thundershirt for people.
Laugh at yourself. I have tripped. I’ve dropped my book. I’ve lost my place. One time, my belt even fell off while I was reading. And absolutely none of it mattered in any way, shape or form. Just laugh, and others will join you. Everyone loves to laugh. The audience isn’t expecting you to be perfect. They’re there to make a connection with the person behind the book. Plus, readings are supposed to be fun for everyone, including you.
Most importantly: Check your fly.
* I’m not saying I did go on TV with my fly open, mind you. But if I did, you can bet I laughed about it. A lot. After I spent the day hitting refresh on the news website until they posted the clip and I could be certain my sweater obscured the open zipper.
**Please note: Mention of said movie does not constitute a recommendation.
Do you have public speaking tips you’d like to share? Share away in comments.