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Everything you need to know about Events

Fremantle Press Author Events Seminar, 6 July 2019

Peter Cowan Writers Centre hosted a Fremantle Press seminar on ‘Everything you need to know about Events’ for participants in the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program on 6 July 2019 at the ECU Joondalup campus. Fremantle Press marketing staff Claire Miller and Jen Bowden were joined by WA author Amanda Curtin to give attendees some insider tips and a practical guide to preparing and structuring talks.

First session included:

  • Author talks at libraries and industry events
  • Panel sessions at writers’ festivals as both a guest author or panel chair
  • Author in-conversation events
  • Guest speaker gigs at conferences, seminars or other events that may relate to the content of our books
  • Presenting awards or launching other people’s books
  • Book club talks
  • Book signings at retailers
  • CBCA events

All three panellists affirmed that there are many benefits for authors in participating in such events:

  • Provides a major source of income for authors and ASA rates are recommended as a guide to author fees. However, there may be some instances where no fee applies as in private book club or book retailer appearances.
  • Provides an opportunity for authors to connect with readers and to gain new readers and word-of-mouth attention for their book.
  • It raises an author’s profile.
  • Librarians and book sellers are the best ambassadors for your book.

Participants learnt the key points in any successful presentation are:

1. Advance consultation with the event organiser to determine requirements and expectations such as:

  • Format for the event – author talk or author-in-conversation or panel session?
  • Timing for the event – date, time, duration?
  • How many people will be attending?
  • Will a book seller be on hand to sell your book? Or do you need to bring books to sell. Ensure you have stock.
  • Is an author reading required?
  • Will someone be introducing you or interviewing you? If you are being interviewed, will you be sent the questions in advance?
  • For panel sessions, make sure you read the other panellists’ books, and introduce yourself to the other panellists and chair before the event. Have some questions or discussion points in mind. Don’t overwhelm the other panellists with lots of questions or dominate the conversation. Check format for event – length and question time.
  • Do also liaise with your publisher so you don’t double-book or overlap on event approaches. Keep them informed on any events you arrange personally.

2. Check on equipment and props provided and what you need to bring

  • Will a lectern and microphone be provided? If you have to juggle your notes and a microphone and stand up to deliver your talk, how will you manage this if no lectern is provided?
  • If you require AV equipment for your presentation, will the venue provide the projector/screen and a laptop, or do you need to bring your own laptop? Mac users should bring their own adaptors etc. Do a test run before the event and get there early on the day to ensure all runs smoothly.
  • If there is no lectern, it is good to have a side table or coffee table to put your notes or other props on for use during your talk.

3. Preparing your talk

  • Have a clear structure for your talk.
  • Start with a punchline, thesis or most attention-grabbing fact. Rhetorical questions or provocative questions can grab the audience’s attention.
  • Acknowledge the audience. Tell them why you’re choosing to talk to them about your topic.
  • What are the parallels between you and your audience?
  • Map it out. Tell them what they are going to hear and in what order they are going to hear it.
  • Stick to no more than three main points or segments.
  • Present the core information in the order you’ve mapped out for the audience using examples, anecdotes and facts to support your statements, where necessary.
  • Conclude by restating your main point and what you’ve talked about.
  • Thank the audience.

4. Practice, practice practice

  • Practice your talk at home and time it. Record your voice so you can hear how it sounds and make adjustments, or film it and watch the video back to see how you can improve on the delivery.

5. Delivery on the Day

  • Face the audience and make eye contact and include everyone.
  • Have no physical barriers between you and the audience if possible, e.g. no desks in front of you.
  • Breathing to centre yourself (practice diaphragm breathing beforehand).
  • Posture: weight evenly on both legs, if standing up.
  • Speak clearly.
  • If reading from you notes, look up frequently and engage with the audience.
  • Maintaining your confidence and energy throughout the presentation.
  • Watch out for body language that can be off-putting to the audience – looking at the roof/a point in the distance, excessive use of hand gestures, rocking back and forth on your heels or shifting side to side.
  1. After the event
  • Send a thank you to the organiser.
  • Invoice promptly.

Session 2:

Participants were asked to present a brief talk in front of their peers and the panel. They were given 20 minutes to work on a set exercise either individually, in pairs, or as part of a panel. Everyone faced their fears and nerves to give a 1-1.5 minute presentation. Amanda, Claire and Jen gave the participants vital feedback on the elements on how they did well and how they could improve in the future.

The session was attended by participants in the Four Centres Emerging Writers Programme from PCWC, FAWWA, KSP and WA Poets.