by Mel Todd
Hi! Welcome to the annual meeting of the “We Write So We Don’t Have to Talk To People” association. Wow, so many of you came. I see three attendees! That has to be a record. It’s great you showed up as I have some wonderful tips for those of you (all of us) that fear talking to people. Because let’s be honest—People bite.
I see you nodding your heads in agreement, so let’s get to it.
Tip 1: You are playing a role.
Really, you are not John Doe office worker and sometime writer, you are J Doe—the awesome writer who creates worlds and guides destiny. You control the fate of millions and you are awesome. People already admire you because you are an author. They want to get to know you. J Doe is funny, creative, and always has their awesome X.
Tip 2: Have an X.
No, I don’t mean a literal X, though that would work too, but have a thing. Your thing can be a hat, a shirt, a wig, a prop. But have an X. It means that if you wear a bright purple rose pinned to your shirt, that is what people focus on and remember. It gives you something to play with, to talk about, and even better, it helps you become J Doe Writer Extraordinaire. Don’t be afraid to come up with a story about it, a history, a personality. I’ve seen armadillo purses, rhinestone hats, even ventriloquist dummies. If you have a cool X, people will think you are even cooler than you already are.
Tip 3: Ask Leading Questions
Look, some people LOVE to talk about themselves, most of us, not so much. So when someone is talking to you (especially at a con) ask them a leading question. In fact, make a list of questions ahead of time to ask. Here are some samples: What have you seen at the con so far? Omg, that is a great shirt/costume/hat. Where did you get it? How did you make it? What genre do you like to read? What is your favorite book? Note that some of these questions give you an intro to tell them about your book. Oh, remember to let them answer, don’t just rattle off all your questions.
I know, I know, selling yourself is hard, but remember they think you are J Doe awesome author! They want to know about your books, your stories, your worlds. Especially if you write a genre they already read. So put on J Doe’s award-winning smile and tell them about your book.
Tip 4: Practice Smiling
No, I don’t want you to become Gilderoy Lockhart. But many of us don’t know what our face feels like when you have a friendly smile on it. And when we are stressed or uncomfortable, our “forced” smile can look, well, a bit Joker like. And that isn’t a good look for awesome writer J Doe. Go stand in front of the mirror and let your inner J Doe out and smile. What does it feel like in your cheeks? How do your eyes crinkle? Where are your shoulders at? Knowing what it feels like for a friendly welcoming smile helps you get your face into that same position when J Doe is losing the battle to John Doe’s introverted ways.
Tip 5: And this is the best one and really one most of us use – Bring an Extrovert With You
Look—socializing is HARD. Or at least it is for us. But there exist these creatures called Extroverts that are extremely easy to attract. Lure one to your side (cookies, bacon, or booze usually works), then push them in front of you like a living shield. If they are a fan or another author, then let them talk about your books, tell the jokes, and you can just smile along. Yes, extrovert authors exist, but they are rare precious creatures. If you find one, brand them as yours, and keep them close. They may exhaust you, but they are well worth the effort. Then, with your extrovert as their focal point, everyone will love you because they are so personable. It works like magic.
That is all I have for you tonight. Please remember to take some cookies and tea. No, really, take the cookies. I bought out two Girl Scout Troops trying to get them to go away. See you next year, I hope.
Mel Todd has over 40 stories out and is planning on at least another twenty more. You can find her at www.badashpublishing.com. Remember to sign up for her newsletter and get a short story twice a month.
Great advice, and super fun article. I will pass this along to my wife, Lena, who always helps me out at the table but is much more introverted than I am.