I had my first public appearance as an author yesterday. I met with a high school book club that is about to read my novel, The Crystal Bridge. I'll be heading back in a month after they finish reading. There were a few surprises. I'll share some of those lessons learned from the experience.
1- I really can talk about my book, writing, and publishing intelligibly for a long time. I was super nervous that no one would have questions and we would just stare at one another. Maybe I'd get out ten or twenty minutes worth of stuff and then look dumb. That wasn't the case. They had questions and I filled most of an hour. I probably could have filled another hour, but they had to go to class.
2- Wearing a sweater is a good idea. I sweat more than any human should when I'm nervous. I changed shirts like four times and looked at a couple jackets before I left my house. I then threw on a sweater at the last minute. It was a great choice. They couldn't see how nervous I was, even if my shirt was sticking to me underneath it all. I looked calm and confident. I don't know what I'll do in the summer.
3- I should remove the bit about a velociraptor impression at the end of my book. Someone flipped to the back and read my About The Author section. She wanted to see the velociraptor. I was super embarrassed, but did it. It involves me loping across the room, screeching like a crazed lizard. I think the kids thought it was fun, but they may also think I'm a crazy person.
4- I like talking about writing. Not only did I find I had the words, I also didn't struggle with them. I didn't say "um" or "uh" or stutter a lot. The only time I stuttered for a bit was right after I did the velociraptor and I was also blushing. Then I warmed back to the subject at hand. I enjoyed discussing the writing process and the words flowed from me rather smoothly. This was a surprise. I haven't done public speaking in a long long time. I expected it to be harder, but I guess passion for the subject helps more than I imagined.
5- Sitting on a desk with your feet on a chair makes you look cool. At least I felt that way. I didn't have to stand awkwardly at the front of a classroom, unsure what to do with my hands. I didn't have to lean on a podium with a big block of wood between me and them. I didn't have to sit at a table on a stage feeling alone and isolated. I got to sit just slightly above everyone and talk to them like they were my friends. I felt awfully cool...I assume I looked the part too...even with the sweater.