I recently had the pleasure of taking part in a panel on YA fiction at the inaugural Newcastle Literary Festival. It was great fun meeting other writers and swapping news and views. One of the topics that came up for discussion was the need for authors to go out and talk about their new books and how difficult this can be, especially if you’re not used to public speaking. Like me when I first started! For me, facing an audience was an absolute nightmare. After a particularly botched attempt, I realised I was not doing my books or myself as an author any favours, and so I joined Toastmasters – one of the best investments I could have made in my career as an author. I still get nervous, but I think that gives you an edge, hypes you up and that’s all good. But I know now that I can do it, and this confidence carries me through so that now I enjoy the experience of talking about my books and about my life as an author. And the audiences (students or adults) seem to enjoy it too. That’s probably the most important tip I can give you, but there are other things to think about when preparing a presentation.
First up, people like to know about where ideas come from for stories, and what inspired you to write your book – funny anecdotes about research/writing it always go down well. Tell them a bit of what the book is about and also the setting, because you’ll find a lot of them won’t have read your book and may not know anything about the setting either. Many of my books are based on history, so that’s something else I need to touch on when I’m talking about them, to put the action into its historical context.