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Swoon Author Maggie Ann Martin: An Introvert's Guide to Talking About Your Book in Public

If you’re anything like me, the question “So, what’s your book about?” can send your mind into a momentary panic followed by a complete blank. Even though this book is something you live and breathe, how are you supposed to put it into words? For other people? At a moment’s notice??

Practice, my friends.

Just like practicing the craft of writing, if you want to get your book into the hands of readers, chances are you’ll have to practice the craft of public speaking. (*gasp*)

So, let me present my humble guide to being able to talk about your book with other humans like a pro.

1.) Form an elevator pitch.

Create a simple, two-sentence elevator pitch with your book’s hook to really draw people in. Chances are they won’t press for more info about the book than that.

Here’s a variation of my elevator pitch that I tell people when they ask about To Be Honest.

To Be Honest follows Savannah, a seventeen-year-old who has just dropped off her sister/ best friend at college. Now that she’s home alone with her mother who has just gotten off a a weight loss reality TV show, Savvy will have to fight a constant battle between her beliefs about loving her body and her mother’s toxic obsession with extreme weight loss.

2.) Practice answering FAQs.

Anytime you talk about being an author, there will be some frequently asked questions that you can most definitely anticipate. Practice your answers to these questions with your friends, family, dog, cat, house plant—the more that you say your answers out loud, the more comfortable you will be when someone asks them IRL.

Some questions I’d start with:

  1. What is your writing process?
  2. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
  3. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
  4. What was the inspiration for your story?
  5. What books/ authors inspired you to write?
  6. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
  7. Are you working on anything new?

3.) Prepare workarounds for difficult questions.

Have you ever gotten some uncomfortable questions like “How much do you make in royalties?” or “How are your sales doing?” It’s always a good idea to have a way to divert the conversation without divulging too much information in your back pocket.

For example, if someone asks me “How is your book selling?” I will answer, “It’s getting into the hands of young readers all over the world!” It’s an easy way to divert the question without needing to go into the numbers of it all.

4.) Ask for more questions in a productive way.

When you’re at an event, instead of asking “Does anyone have any questions?” ask “Who has the first question?” This simple rephrase helps IMMENSELY to get the audience to participate.

Once you get through your first question and answer, ask “Who has the next question?” Rephrasing your questions this way will encourage your audience to keep on asking questions.

5.) Always have a way for them to follow up.

When you leave your public speaking event, whether you’re talking to one person or a room of 100, give them an easy way to follow up. Share your Twitter handle, or hand them a bookmark—give them some way to reach out to you in case someone has a question in the audience that they were afraid to ask. Historically, that person has been me, so I always give that option at the end of my speaking engagements.

Talking about your book can be HARD, but I promise that, with practice, you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.

I’m available for any introverted author commiserating on Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below. Let me know: How do you prepare for speaking about your book in real life?

Author spotlight

Maggie Ann Martin

Maggie Ann Martin hails from Iowa City, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA ...

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