Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Lessons of an Independent Author: The Power of Inspiration

This post might also be subtitled:

Lessons I Learned from Andra Watkins-Author

I confess that I haven't been to a lot of author events or book readings, unless you count my attendance at two SCBWI conferences.  I have attended a lot of talks and presentations by theatre people who write, but rarely do I attend things that are specifically about one person's book or books. On those rare occasions of attending book readings and author presentations I've seen a gamut of styles, which can be broken down (in my opinion) in the following way:

1. Ben Stein Presenters: people who read their own work in a monotone voice that motivates their audiences to sleep even if the words are wonderful

2. Wonders of the World; people who talk about their own work as if they are the emperor of everything (the work rarely lives up to their own hype)

3. Facts and Only Facts: people who have important information to share but leave their personalities at the door

4. Story Weavers: people who inspire by honest storytelling, enthusiastic presentations, and the desire to connect rather than sell (even if selling books is the ultimate goal).

Andra falls under the last group--she is a Story Weaver.

Last September, I had the privilege of becoming an Andra groupie as she did a whirlwind tour of Massachusetts. I know she thought I was crazy following her around from presentation to presentation, as her talk doesn't change that much from venue to venue (depending, of course, on the type of group). Sometimes she hits the dirty jokes more, sometimes she glosses over the shocking stuff, but generally she covers the same material each time she presents.  So it seems a little strange to see the same talk several times over a four-day period--but there was method to my madness. I wanted to learn from the best. I wanted to discover the secret of creating a presentation that inspires people on many levels, not just on the level of wanting to buy her books. I knew that--if I ever got the opportunity to present myself as a published author--I didn't want to be one of the people who bored, or the egos who boasted, or the experts who quoted facts. I wanted to become one of the authors who inspire.

No pressure. :P

Yesterday, faced with the reality that I was about to make my first ever author visit at a high school this morning (as part of Cape Author Fest 2015) I suddenly went into a panic attack. I have no clue what to say, I told myself. I have nothing to offer them maybe I should just do a reading but if I do a reading what part of the book do I read that won't make them want to fall asleep what if nobody likes it what if they sit there and laugh at me or worse stare at me with those blank teenage stares that say so much in their silence how can I inspire them I can't do this AAAUUUUGGGGGGHHHH!  {Note: my panic self often seems to talk in run-on sentences}.

Even though I didn't want to just read from my book--because I honestly find that to be the least interesting kind of presentation unless someone is a fabulous performer (I can act, but I don't know if I would be that fabulous)--I figured I should at least plan out a selection just in case. Still, I had no clue what to pick, so I turned to the hive mind of readers on Facebook, and there I received the gift of guidance and a reminder that I could do this.

Presentation Conversation

As I worked on the slide show, it made me think about what message I really wanted to share with this group. Sure, I could talk about publishing in general, but I am such a newbie that I don't know that I can offer much in words of wisdom. Plus, to be honest, unless I had a group of writer wannabes, no high school student would really have any interest in that. That kind of presentation seems to fall under the "Facts and Only Facts" style which bores me to tears.

Then I thought about Andra's fabulous "Make A Memory" campaign which is part of what makes her presentations so wonderful. Andra inspires people to live life to the fullest, to make memories now rather than later. That's an incredible gift she gives with every presentation. I realized that, to some extent, I can do that as well with my "Celebrating Our Unique Powers" campaign. I can invite my audiences to celebrate themselves, and to uncover the powers that make them special. So I did.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="9008,9009,9010"]


[bmp_group id=1]