Sunday, 3 May 2015

Chocolate biscuits and Author Talks!

How to hold a successful author talk...Or 5 things I will do next time!

A few weeks ago, I held my first ever author talk at my local library, a very small, but very friendly place.  

In preparation for the event I designed a powerpoint presentation about how I became a published author, about my writing in general, and the inspiration behind A SPELL IN PROVENCE, my contemporary romantic suspense. I rehearsed and timed the talk to make sure it wouldn't be too long, and selected a couple of excerpts from the novel to read out. On the day of the talk, I went up to the library early to set up a display of books and postcards.  

All I needed was enough courage to get through the afternoon ... and an audience.

Sadly, if I managed to overcome my nerves, the audience did not materialise. Only three people came - and one of them made no secret of the fact he was only there for the librarian's offer of tea and McVities' chocolate biscuits!

Although disappointed at first, I decided to be positive. It was after all my very first chance to talk about myself as a writer, and the ideal opportunity to put into practice an excellent piece of advice I had been given: to make direct eye contact with as many members of the audience as possible. With only three people in attendance, this was going to be easy!

So what did I learn from the event and what would I do differently if I had the chance to do my talk all over again?

Next time...

1. I will be been less self-conscious and advertise the event more widely, for example by contacting local book clubs and other libraries in the area.

2. I will prepare for technology failure and have backup visuals. My powerpoint presentation didn't run as smoothly as planned because the library's computer froze several times.

3. I will not hesitate to tactfully interrupt people who are voicing opinions or talking about things which are not exactly relevant and tell them there will be time for questions and discussions later.

4. I will make the event a multi-sensory occasion. If the talk is about A SPELL IN PROVENCE once again, I will have a display of lavender sachets, scented savons de Marseille or samples of typical Proven├žal products. I could even have music in the background before and after the talk. 

 5. I will organise a giveaway or a competition to attract more people.

Of course, I could just forget all that and make sure I have plenty of chocolate biscuits!
What do you think of my tips for a successful author talk, and do you have any great tips you have used yourself?


  1. I think all your 'hindsight' tips and ideas are good ones, Marie. I especially like the idea of giving a sense of Provence with lavender products ... the side effect might be that the audience would be more relaxed and compliant!

  2. Thank you for visiting and for your comment, Helen. That's true, lavender is supposed to help with relaxation. The only problem would be if the audience was too relaxed and fell asleep!

  3. That's always a risk. I love your ideas. And chocolate biscuits always help. I have been to high-tech conferences, and do it yourself things, and technology never works. It seems to be a given. I went to an author event in the outskirts of Barcelona, and we were also three (and the author has her own radio programme and belongs to several groups of local writers). So not sure it's all that rare. It's one of the things (and personal matters) that have prevented me from pursuing this so far, but you're braver than me. Hats off.

  4. Thank you Olga. I hope I will have a few more people in the audience if I do it again. I wasn't feeling brave at all on the day!