Uh, I can’t do that

A while back, I was talking to this guy and I let it escape *coughs bragged *  that I’m a published author. He was impressed, asked me if he could read it, and of course, I forwarded him both books + the short story, with the promise to gift him with an early copy of the final book when it’s completed.

While we talked, and he checked the books and the reviews on goodreads, he said he’d like to arrange a small gathering for me to introduce myself and my books to help with marketing.

I, of course, introvert that I am, said no way.

My mom said I was a fool (gotta love family bluntness), that there was nothing to be shy about, and that I was letting a great opportunity go.

And I know that.

But I’m just not wired that way. I can be the joker in the room filled with friends and family members, I can be outgoing whenever I meet someone new by accident. But put me in a situation where I’d be questioned by a room filled with strangers about a particular subject and I’d simply blank. I know, because that actually happened to me before – at work when I was presenting a project to half a dozen donors. Granted, it wasn’t my project or my presentation, but the fact remains that my mind simply disconnects and I can’t, for the life of me, grasp a coherent thought when I’m put on the spot.

I’ve been asked by family members “what’s your book about?” and my answer is always, “Hmmm. It’s fantasy.”

“Yeah?” they’d ask, “What kind?”

And I’d say, “Urban fantasy?” Are they asking because they’re trying to be polite? I always wonder.

And when I’m asked to elaborate, I go on about this girl who’s maybe half human and half fae, but she isn’t really half human but something else. And she’s taken to a facility where scientists conduct all kinds of experiments on her but she manages to escape nine years later. But the book opens after that. And she’s being attacked by hired mercenaries that the scientists send after her and she’s trying to find her mother to find out why they’re all trying to capture her, but her mother, well, she isn’t who she thought she should be.

Here I’d stop, because the room’s gone quiet and I can feel everyone’s eyes on me – and I have this sense that the ones who don’t think I’m a little loony (there’s not one single reader among my friends and family) are actually wondering if the book is as bad as I make it sound.

And remember, those are the friends and family who consider me the joker of the bunch

 

So when this guy said he could put together a small gathering of readers to help me out, my answer was a resounding no.

I can’t do that, even though I know it’s a great opportunity passing by.

Is it a necessary step for an author? A quick internet research said that it’s a great tool one should explore – and that’s actually sad. I just want to write and be read, I don’t want to be famous, and I don’t want to make a lot of money – though the latter would actually be nice.

Would you do it – stand in front of a bunch of people and answer their questions about something that took you years to complete? Or, better yet, have you ever attended a book event where the author made the story sound uninteresting and boring?

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76 Replies to “Uh, I can’t do that”

  1. I am not in my most comfortable element in front of a crowd of strangers, but given the opportunity, I would wrangle my way through it.

    I am also terrible about answering inquisitive acquaintances question about my novels. I am working on an “elevator pitch” to give an answer that will help promote the books.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m the same. I have generalised anxiety and social anxiety, asking me to stand up in front of a group of people is like asking the sun to shine at night. I couldn’t do it. I would have a panic attack and the aftermath of an attack isn’t worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your luck would’ve probably die on my book event. I can write an enticing blurb any time of the week, but tell me to explain it or talk about it and I just have no words to use.

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    1. I think that’d be harder – I know my book inside and out, but for the reading, I’d need to listen to my reader and repeat behind it – I’m blind. I think the flow would suffer like that I’ve tried that before. Not with my book, but other articles or paragraphs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hmm, tricky. Maybe this is just too soon, and in time, after you’ve explored the issue, and your concerns, it will begin to seem less daunting. I hope you do find a way to overcome this. I’ve spent some very rewarding time listening to a writer discussing their work with a sympathetic and knowledgeable interviewer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hard to know how I would react in that situation, but if engaging with potential readers will get them interested, then it is something you should consider. Is the guy in the industry? Or with a club/library?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s actually a lawyer. I’m not sure if he’s part of a club, but he was confident he could put together a small gathering. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, but I’m still leaning heavy on the no.

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  4. It’s a great opportunity (maybe! because all depends on who is that man/person is…& what kind of contacts he got), but I don’t know if I’d do it. Probably – couldn’t 😫… the thing is – it’s impossible to predict what they’d ask and…it’s too much stress 😅
    Maybe we should be more brave & try things…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the stress that bothers me – and the anxiety. I don’t know how many contacts the guy has, but he was confident he could get that gathering together. Still, is it worth all the sleepless nights and nail biting and probably constant diarrhea?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I relate, Jina. This is a problem for lots of writers. We like to write alone in our rooms and maybe venture out to Twitter for a minute, lol. But yes it’s good to go out and speak. I find if I have a little talk prepared, like just a few minutes about how you became a writer, then go for the Q & A everyone will have questions. If you talk to your doctor about feeling anxiety , they may be able to give you some performance-enabling medication. Mine knows I dislike public speaking and does prescribe for me. Many musicians in symphony orchestras need something to help their hands from shaking so they can actually play. Second part–it takes some time but try writing an “elevator pitch” one or two sentences about your book. You can start with what you usually say and just hone it down. Get it sharp and to the point and memorize it. Then when someone asks, you have your pitch all ready to go. I think the meds would help with the freezing in the spotlight, too, where you talk about your mind being blank. I like the other suggestions here, too, especially the public speaking course. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Won’t t the medication dull your senses a little? And I can write a pitch and rehearse,, as well as prepare a speech about how I became a writer. But how would I know what questions would be asked? Should I prepare my questions and hand them over…. here I am, anxious with something I – so far – don’t plan to do. But thanks for the tips and the comment.

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  6. You had me chuckling on this. I’d probably do it because I am used to forcing myself into uncomfortable situations. I will never forget standing in front of a class to teach, which I’d never before done (no student teaching even). Well, you just gotta do it, right?

    So call him back–say yes!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Public speaking isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I can perform if I need to. Not that I’ll every win any awards for it, lol. A local book club asked me to speak to them after they’d read my first book. It was fun, but I felt like I flubbed everything by the time I left.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m curious, Teri, what did you gain from it? You say it was fun and you probably were able to discuss your book with others, but did you see an increase in sales? in reviews? Was the event talked about on sm platforms?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They’d bought the books before I spoke at their meeting, but only a couple of them actually left reviews, so that was disappointing. Not really sure about social media, but I don’t think any of them had a real presence or shared reviews.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m with you, Jina, it would be a resounding NO from me, too! There are plenty of other ways to connect with readers (like blogging 🙂 ), I see no reason to push out of my comfort zone. But that’s just me- the shy introvert, as a friend suggested, lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think a lot of people find the self-promotion difficult. I think it’s important to do PR to sell books, of course, and a talk like that may be a good thing to push one’s boundaries, I agree (if the inclination is there), but do they really sell many books?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t that the million dollar question. I’d say that even if the books didn’t sell but word got out, it’s also a win situation. But – and very big round but – is it worth the stress? I mean, if a job is too stressful, wouldn’t the person think twice about applying? what’s the difference here?

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  10. Hmmmm… I can definitely empathize with you on that! I think speaking in front of people and getting the word out about your book is of course a fantastic opportunity and can be very helpful – but an event arranged by a total stranger that will involve other total strangers would make me nervous too. I’d need at least a few people I know to be there. I also think I would need to know the person a little better before I let him/her arrange something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think it’s a phenomenal idea, but then again, I like public speaking. You’d think that people who go to those things are genuinely interested in the book. the author, so that is out of the way. When it comes to family and friends, I feel like they are mostly trying to be nice. I know their tastes, and I know what they would like and what they would find unpalatable. And I dislike being passionate about something when others around me could not care less. I think a whiiiiile back I went to a reading/ Q&A and I was utterly bored, but it was because I happened to be there on a whim, just passing by.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. How many people will attend because they’re bored? Or out of support for the guy who’s arranging? I don’t live in an english speaking country and there’s only 1 bookstore here that sells english books. I went there before and they only have best sellers on the shelf. So, where are the readers who’ll attend? Will they come because they’re interested in the book or because it’s a novelty? Will anyone even attend? and all that aside, can I handle the stress I have so much doubt about this, I really don’t think it’ll be worth all the sweat.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I HATE being in groups of people. I have a hard enough time with friends and family, but a group of strangers. . . AGH!

    What’s worse, I see the people who do “smooze” like you’re supposed to when you’re selling yourself and . . . Ugh! So often they are so smarmy and self-serving. I can’t bring myself to be like that. Even if I didn’t freeze up, like you do, I can cram things down people’s throats. I can’t stand it when people do that to me.

    But, what do I know. I’ve not even written a book, so having to face anyone is a moot point. I’m right there with you, though. And, hey, if you do every have to face the masses, write about it for those of us (hopefully!) following in your foot steps. It’d be nice to know what to expect and a pointer or two on what to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of advice here on what to do, but if I’m honest, I dont’ think I can do it. Too much stress and anxiety – just to sell more books? I’m not here to make money, though I do want people to read me.
      Thanks for the visit and the support! I’m always posting about my personal writing – and reading – experience, I hope you take something useful from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Jina your post brought back a horrible memory of public speaking. Like you, I prefer not too. I had to present my dissertation during residency in an auditorium of more than 200 students. When I stepped to the podium my mind went blank and I stood there shaking and fumbling for words. Picturing everyone nude didn’t help. 🙂 Love your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t mind standing in front of groups – used to be a trainer, so I’m used to it. Granted, it’s been years, but I think I’d be okay. The only way to overcome a fear is to face it smack-on. You’d be surprised to find it’s really not that bad . . . and maybe, just maybe, a little fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes your fear is strong enough to smack back. I didn’t have this problem when I was younger – I was the class speaker during my graduation day. But that was a different life, a different me.

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  15. Jina, you just did it! 😀 In your elaboration you gave away just enough of the book to draw the audience in, leaving lots of room for questions! I think that one bad experience shouldn’t stop you trying to do a small book talk … after all this time it’s about your ‘baby’, your project! It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be a necessary task as an author but it does help. At my first talk I was quaking before I started but then loved talking about the book, answering questions. The second time it was much easier and I revelled in the moment (this is the girl whose school report always said I should speak up more/I was far too quiet in class). It is hard but I hope you give it a go … people overall are kind and warm, and would only be there if interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ha! I’ve participated in a reading where I was one of 60 authors in an anthology, and I’ve created 2 readings for the last book I edited (and we’ll be doing another). I think they’re fun, actually, but then again, I enjoy being in front of people answering questions and such. Maybe you could host a virtual one?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. If anyone asks me to describe my books I mumble something about fantasy with dragons, or Merlin, or magic, and struggle to describe it. The idea of talking to even a small gathering is terrifying and I’d likely never do it. I’d happily email them all though! I’ve decided in person events aren’t necessary. I can reach a ton more people, who are probably more likely to be my ideal readers, online, than I can in a gathering in the small town I live in!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. On your last line: I have attended a book talk where the author was a great speaker and made me want to read her book, but the book wasn’t very good. I’m an introvert as well, and it’s easier to just read what I wrote than talk about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, some suggested I do a reading instead, but seeing that I’m blind, it’d be hard to repeat over my screen reader. It’s like someone murmuring in your ear and you repeating back kind of experience. So, that too isn’t an option. Thanks for suggesting though. I think it’s too early for something like that for me, so I’ll keep the no for now.

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  19. You know, I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all way to success. And, while we are on this topic, success is going to be different for different people. You mentioned that you don’t want to be a room full of readers. I, on the other hand, would love that for myself. People are different and that’s okay. You do what works for you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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  20. Hm. Seems I’m late coming to the party. But, I understand your feelings about self-promotion. For some of us, it’s just damned difficult. I have found something that helps, however. It’s the book blurb, basically the same sort of copy that goes on the back cover. HOWEVER, there’s a nifty formula you can use to make sure you only include what needs to be there–a paragraph, maybe two. The trick is to memorize the blurb. Then, when someone asks you what your book is about, you just recite it. [smile] Happy times. I’ll be happy to send you the two-page Word document that covers it. Just tell what email address to use. (No spam; no nonsense. I promise.) Or, you can buy my textbook on novel writing. Same stuff either way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a nice offer. My problem also is that I’d need to translate the blurb and memorize it in two other languages. Nothing to lose there, but it’s hard for me to simply stand in front of a group of strangers and have a functioning brain. I’d appreciate the 2 pages doc – you never know what the future holds, an I’ll keep your book in mind for future references. e-mail is jina.salameh@gmail.com

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I have a lot of social anxiety. I wish I had a partner who would do all the PR and marketing while I sat at home and wrote. But I like working with kids. I can stand up in front of a group of kids without much anxiety at all and lead a writing workshop. So I figure if I start with something comfortable, maybe I could graduated to something uncomfortable like leading a workshop for adults. By then, it might not be so uncomfortable.

    Liked by 2 people

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