In the lead up to my book launch, I searched deep within myself for the perfect speech. What would the audience want to hear? Drawing a blank, I then trawled through the many found during an internet search. They were too long. Too boring. Not relevant at all to my Young Adult Paranormal novel or my journey to this point.
I tried recalling what other authors had said during the several launches I’d attended – again, nothing gelled with me, or I couldn’t remember.
So, I started writing, speech after speech after speech. I read them aloud, to myself and family. “Too long,” was one comment. “You don’t need to say that,” came another, “no one wants to hear that!”
Being my first public speaking engagement, I wanted to get it just right but time was running out.
In the end, I decided to restrict it to just the thankyous, and again I didn’t want to make that too drawn out but wanted to remember how important people were in my journey. I could have gone on forever, right back to thanking my parents for having me!
I also decided to restrict my speech to how the book came about as Dee White, the fantastic author and friend, was going to do the reading from my book.
Job finally done, I allowed myself the luxury of a good night’s sleep the night before the launch but in that dreamy state just before I awoke, all these words just poured into my brain. Trusty notepad and pen to the side of my bed, I frantically scribbled them all down.
Of course, my writing was a tad messy and difficult to decipher when it came to making my speech, but this is what I said:
“Writing wasn’t a career I suddenly decided to choose, it’s more of a compulsion.
“It can take a huge amount of time to bring your work to the point you feel you’re ready to share it, particularly when writing a series.
“And then there’s always the concern there’ll be no one to share it with. But guys, by coming here today, to be part of my journey and support me, makes you the amazing ones in this room.
“The fact that you all want to read my words and celebrate with me is just the best feeling. So thankyou, so, so much.”
I then thanked the individuals who had worked so closely with me to make my book a reality.
“Before Phoenix is launched, I’d just like to share a little bit of how the story came about.
“Initially it stemmed from my experience of emigrating from England.
“I was always the shy one at school, quite happy to live in the shadows, and wrenching myself from everything I knew to move halfway around the world was pretty daunting.
“But it was the oddest thing that helped me settle. I started getting deja vu. A lot. And as weird as deja vu is, it was also reassuring.
“Did it mean I’d emigrated in a previous life? Is that what deja vu is? Our subconscious mind recalling a past life? Or is it some peculiar way of showing us we’re on the right track in this one?
“As I speculated, I began to write and as I wrote strange things began to happen in my house. Creepy shadows roamed the hallway. Lights and electronics turned themselves on and off. There were mysterious handprints, taps exploding in the middle of the night…
“But the freakiest thing was when random words and paragraphs began appearing on my computer screen! I’d wrestle with the delete button, frantically save my work, yet time and again these odd passages appeared or my deletions reinserted.
“In the end I gave up fighting with it and let the story take on its own direction. And I’m really glad I did as Phoenix is so much more than I’d imagined. And through it I learned that sometimes we have to step out of our shadows to be who we truly are.
“And so, here I am, stepping out of mine to share Phoenix with you.
It felt natural as I spoke my words to the audience and other than the moment when I couldn’t actually read my own handwriting, I was completely at ease.
So the lesson I learned from this? Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and let the words come naturally.
For all those about to venture into their first book launch I offer this advice – just be yourself and talk from your heart. Don’t try to write what you think the audience wants to hear, write for you and you’ll find that is, in fact, exactly what the audience wants to hear.
Good luck, and above all, enjoy your moment!