by Janis Patterson
Last weekend I gave a workshop at our local MWA chapter on self-publishing. Not that I’m an expert, or anything like that, but you realize that to be an authority on something you only have to know a little more than everyone else, and I have been self-pubbing since 2013. Besides, I was dragooned into it by my fellow chapter board members!
Normally when I give a workshop or a public speech I write it out, agonizing on the exact nuances of words and the rhythm of sentences. Yes, I am a control freak. Unfortunately, that means I usually read the presentation, making sure each word is exactly as I wrote it – in other words, giving a boring program that would have been better as a magazine article.
I don’t mind public speaking; it’s not my favorite thing to do, but it is easy and not unpleasant. I know there are some who are absolutely terrified to speak in front of people – my own dear mother was one – but I just don’t understand that. Know that such panicky fear exists, and accept it, but don’t understand it. I don’t see any difference between talking to five people or five hundred.
Anyway, due to work and life and other uncontrollable things I didn’t write down my speech – only made notes of topics that had to be covered. And agonized about their order; apparently you can’t turn off the control freak gene. It would be okay, I thought; we’re a small chapter and I know everyone there. Ha!
I was astonished at how quickly the room filled up. We finally ended up with more than double our usual attendance, and there were some people there I had never seen before. Well, it was too late to back out, so I sat down at my improvised speaker’s table, and started to talk. The Husband says there has never been a time I couldn’t talk!
I talked for over an hour, almost an hour and a half. (My father used to say, Wind her up and she talks…) There were some very intelligent questions, and some very elementary questions, but that’s okay, because everyone starts out not knowing everything – or sometimes anything. I stressed that what I was saying was based on my experience, that their mileage or choices might vary, that there were choices to be made that only they could make. That is the essence of self-publishing, I think – self responsibility. The choices you make will affect the results you get but – aside from a few basics – like to sell a book you have to finish it and get it out there – every choice and everything that is done devolves on you. If it gets done, you have to do it.
The workshop went rather well, though I must admit it was a little unsettling to see all these people – friends and strangers alike – scribbling down seemingly every word I said, just like I had maniacally taken notes at the workshops of important people. Yes, it was a bit of a rush – half elation and half sheer terror. And although public speaking doesn’t really faze me, I’m glad it’s over.
Will I do another one? I honestly don’t know. I’m glad I did this one. I hope that everyone there has an easier path to self-publishing because of what I said. I know I owe a lot to those who went before me into this brave new world, but even so I still accumulated my share of scars and mistakes. Perhaps that’s called growth