My trip to Pietermaritzburg for a series of book launches has been successful way beyond my expectations. God is so good!
Yet I continued to learn right to the end. My last lesson was this:
Be prepared to adapt your talk right up to the last minute. Be sensitive to the audience that presents itself.
I had had two very successful launches where the audience loved my talk and responded amazingly. There was no reason to think that my last talk should not have the same response. On the night, however many of the people who came, came for a different reason.
There had been an item in the paper about my launch and folk who knew me when I was in practice came to renew acquaintances and to reminisce. Others had bought a book already, related to me through my book and wanted me to sign it and to chat. Also it was a smaller crowd and they were arranged around tables on which there were tea and sandwiches.
Altogether it was a much more casual, intimate affair. The ideal talk would have been one in that vein. I could have spoken from the floor, at their level, making it interactive and asking questions as I gave my testimony as a prelude to talking about my book. “Has anyone here worked in the Middle East? Anyone had the same experiences as I have? Do you remember the old Grey’s Hospital, before the new one was built?” etc.
Instead, I gave my same speech from the podium and, while it did eventually draw them in, it seemed much more like a performance and was not as appropriate for those who had come to interact. I cannot say that I enjoyed it and I felt that I had disappointed some of those who came.
I trust these last few postings will be helpful to those planning any promotions. These are not the skills I planned to accumulate as a writer. I thought I’d be focussing on composition, grammar, creative story lines, writing humour, scene setting and all the exciting creative stuff of pen and ink (well, these days, screens and keyboards). However, I have discovered that, if one has a message to declare, a story to tell or hearts to inspire, it is no good putting it in writing if people do not read it. As a result of my sortie into Pietermaritzburg, and being prepared to plunge in the deep end, learning as I went, so many more people have been inspired by my story, encouraged in their walk and influencing others with my book.
Any comments or further tips/advice would be most welcome.