Kathleen Kent: Promoting the Book

A few authors I’ve talked to dread this part.  “Writers write, speakers speak and never the twain should meet” seems to be the sentiment of some of the more reticent souls who make their living putting words into print.

The first few book talks were pretty unnerving.  I didn’t have a lot of experience speaking in front of groups of people; I was usually the one in the back of the room taking notes.  But the best piece of advice in this regard came from a close friend.  She told me, after I had confided to her that I was fearful about speaking in front of a lot of strangers, to relax.   “Remember,” she said, “you grew up talking.”

A good piece of advice, that, and one I’ve clung to like a mantra whenever I need to be in public promoting a book.  Marketing and public relations, after all, is really about building relationships with people.   The idea of building relations is more appealing, and certainly more fun, than approaching books tours and author talks as a necessary, but uncomfortable, part of publishing.

The first large group I spoke to was at a book festival in Vermont a few years ago.  A well known (and Pulitzer Prize winning) author was to speak right after me.  As we were being introduced by the moderator, she leaned over to me and whispered, “Are you nervous?”  I nodded, and then she said, “Don’t worry.  It gets easier.”

And she was right—it did.  In fact, I actually enjoy it now.

The photograph shows my audience for a book talk at Barnes & Noble, Dallas, TX.—Kathleen Kent


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