Last fall, my friend Jane Hertenstein contacted me for some advice about epublishing. We spent hours on the phone going over everything she needed to know about getting her books changed into ebook. She owned the rights and was really excited about this new technology.
Once her books were live and she was happy with her experience, she thought it would be great if I shared my knowledge with her SCBWI group. I could get up in front of an audience and talk.
Now, in real life, I really enjoy talking. I have a bit of a reputation (within my family, at least) for never shutting up. However, when it comes to speaking in front of a live audience, to people I don't know, I don't do well. My hands shake and sweat. My voice cracks and my mouth goes drier than the Sahara. I get nervous. I say stupid things and embarrass myself.
I promptly turned her down. Not only was I not confident enough in my speaking skills, I really felt I was too new to epublishing to get up in front a group and declare myself some kind of expert. So, I suggested a panel with me and my friends.
Jane agreed. We tried to set a date for winter, but it just didn't work out, so we decided to do it in March. My friends Karly Kirkpatrick and Norm Cowie sat on the panel with me and Susan Kaye Quinn came in support (I didn't know her when Jane & I set up the panel or I would have invited her to speak too.)
I spent a month being really nervous. Like heart-pounding, scared-to-death, convinced-I-was-going-to-vomit-on-Norm nervous. I considered backing out. As the months passed I focused more on my career and less on the upcoming meeting. My books took off. I learned so much more about epublishing every day. By the time March rolled around, I really felt like I had something to contribute to the panel.
My nervousness faded. I knew I had something to say - a lot of somethings, in fact. I told Jane the day before the panel that she might need to use bodily force on Karly, Norm, and me because we are all skilled in the art of talking.
How did the panel go? Fantastic! I felt like I really was able to impart my message to people. (ePublishing isn't for everyone and it isn't simple. ePublishing is a business, totally separate from writing.) I met some writers whose names I knew from the SCBWI listserv I belong to. It was a really fantastic afternoon.
Moral? Don't agree to speak on a panel as an expert unless you feel like you are one. Had the panel occurred last fall or winter (like we'd originally discussed), I would have been far more nervous because I didn't feel like I knew enough. By March, I had real facts, data, and experience to give out.
Since then I've been contacted by two other people to give talks about epubbing. Will I do it? Absolutely! And next time, I think I can even do it alone. :D
|Karly, Megg, Norm|