I’m a big fan of local publishing groups. It’s just smart, when you’re starting on a big project in an area you don’t know, to make use of the education and help available through these groups. Where I live, we have the monthly meetings of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) which are neatly divided into three parts:
- Q & A session
- Speaker presentation
Each takes an hour, and by the end you’ve spent a pleasant Saturday morning getting the answers to questions, meeting and networking with other authors and micro-publishers, and learning from an industry professional about some aspect of making and selling books.
Here are some notes from this month’s meeting.
Q & A With Pete Masterson
Q & A is run by the president of BAIPA, Pete Masterson. Month after month he patiently answers questions, often the same questions. Here are some that got asked this month:
- Do we need to have an ISBN?
- Why do we need to give such big discounts?
- What’s the difference between a new printing and a new edition?
- Is there a disadvantage to using CreateSpace’s free ISBN?
- Can I sell books from my website and have Lightning Source do the fulfillment?
- How can I get lots of media attention without paying thousands for a publicist?
- How to avoid shipping costs of sending books to Amazon when they only order one at a time?
- Should we use media mail?
- Do self published books make money, considering all the costs involved?
- Why are some books not “candidates” for LSI?
Attendance at the meetings has been increasing. Self-publishers are not, in my experience, shy people. They have a passion, a purpose, and a pub date. They want to get the word out, and come to meetings of groups like BAIPA precisely because they want to take actions to make it happen.
In order to allow everyone to have a chance to give their “elevator speech” Pete enforces the 30-second rule with the help of a little timer. Pity the person who goes on so long that the timer goes off repeatedly, making it impossible to attend to their pitch.
I always admire the people who excel at the elevator pitch, it’s a little art form in itself. Someone who can let you know who they are, where they’re coming from, and what you might expect, and make contact with you at the same time in 30 seconds possesses quite a skill.
And as usual, the attendees had traveled from all over the Bay Area, and had diverse backgrounds too. Several people announced new awards or media “gets” since the last meeting, and some new books fresh from the printer showed up. There were also editors, book designers, marketing specialists and other vendors in attendance.
Speaker: Jonathan Bender
Our presenter at the meeting was Jonathan Bender: “Speak Up and Be Heard! Selling You and Your Book.” Here’s the intro to the talk:
Jonathan Bender founded WholeSpeak to coach and teach workshops using a whole-person approach to communication, public speaking and “everyday performance.” A lifelong speaker, director, performer and writer, he is also Artistic Director of The Illuminated Theater.
Bender described the Wholespeak philosophy as embodied in what he called “everyday performance.” Our everyday life is a kind of unconcsious performance, including costumes, makeup and styles of behavior adapted to the varying roles we play, and the context in which we act. We “act” differently with our boss than we do with our own children, even though we may not be particularly aware of these actions as performances.
The focus of his techniques is in the practice of presence, a self-awareness in which you can realize that in order to sell your book, you need to BE yourself, not SELL yourself.
In any event, four components of the WholeSpeak approach to communications are:
- ease—finding a way to be comfortable speaking in public, identifying your fear and giving yourself permission to do things differently or make mistakes.
- presence—learning to be fully present in the body through martial arts or yoga can involve more of your body in speaking and help you become aware of the full power and capability of your own voice.
- skills—Learning to enunciate and use body language and facial expressions will expand your speaking abilities.
- connecting—You have to connect with the people to whom you’re speaking. Pauses, tempo and other variations keep people engaged.
Public Speaking Exercises
Bender suggested several exercises:
- Breathing—exercises that deepen your tone, cure nervous tension, connect the breath to the voice and help to stay present.
- Eye contact—Keep your nose between your eyes. Fully direct your attention to the person you are talking to. Practice with inatimate objects first.
- Gesture box—control your gestures by drawing a box with your hands from side to side between your shoulders and from the center of your chest to the navel. Stay within the box when you gesture and, after your gesture,stop.
Bender emphasized that working on your performance isn’t about making you into someone you aren’t. It’s about making who you are more expansive, more joyful and more effective in many areas of life, including selling your books.
His parting note was to remember when you’re speaking in frony of a group that everyone in your audience really wants you to be great.
I’m not sure how much you can learn about the WholeSpeak approach to public speaking in a 20-minute presentation. I did come away with the feeling that, if you plan on doing a lot of speaking, or part of your goal is to use your book to obtain speaking engagements, or even if you see yourself as a spokesperson for your cause, method or business, it would probably be a good idea to consult with a professional coach who can give you objective feedback and help polish your style.
As usual, I came away with enthusiasm, new projects to talk about, and even more conviction that self-publishing has only started to reach its potential.
Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by James Cridland, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/