Showmanship for Introverts: Presenting Your Books to Readers
Showmanship for Introverts is the title of the master class session at the upcoming SCBWI annual winter conference. Julie Gribble, an author, and founder of Kidlit TV, a senior agent Erica Rand Silverman, and I will be leading the session. When Julie suggested a workshop on authors’ presentations, and Erica narrowed it down to read aloud performance, I jumped right on board. I resonated with the idea very much as a newly published author at the beginning of my author career.
Many of us who try to get published spend years perfecting the manuscripts, searching for right agents and editors, and going to conferences and workshops on how to get published. This process alone is daunting, and we barely get to think of what comes next after the book is out in the world. Many newly published authors confess that they did not realize public speaking was to become such a big part of their career. Whether you love it or hate it, speaking to many readers and presenting your book to the audience is a big part of author’s life. For many authors, doing book events could feel uncomfortable. Creating is often a solitary activity, and many of us who write or illustrate books are introverts by nature. Yet, we need to appreciate the opportunities to present, actively seek those chances, and embrace them. Not only because the book events will potentially boost the book sales, but also because the books that authors spend years writing deserve a chance to be introduced to readers and read by many of them.
What I learned after publishing my first book, Cat on the Bus, and after attending various book events for the second book No Kimchi for Me! is that one does not need to change oneself to perform in front of people. I am in no way extrovert. I know I could not perform like some authors who rouse their audience, make them sing, clap, scream, and dance. That is not who I am. However, I love sharing stories. That is why I am making books. I desire my readers to be interested in the stories I am sharing. I want them to have a good time. I want them to enjoy the stories, and I want my stories to enrich their lives. As introverts who are presenting, what we need to do is to prepare. Prepare well. Spend time to think about what your unique quality is. Spend time to think of what your readers would appreciate hearing. Spend time to practice what you are going to say and practice reading aloud. Record yourself with your phone. Many people, including myself, cannot bear hearing oneself recorded, needless to say seeing oneself recorded. Even though it feels so unfamiliar and weird, by doing that, you would certainly improve the performance.
All my books are inspired by my Korean cultural heritage. Because most of my audience are little children, I use a big bright globe to show where Korea is. Starting from U.S.A., specifically from the city where I am presenting, I draw the line to reach Korea and explain a little bit about the country and tell them that’s where I came from. That introduction leads nicely to the story time, and “kimchi,” often very foreign especially for the children audience, does not feel too foreign anymore. There is always something you can tell your audience about yourself connected to the story. Make yourself accessible. Readers feel closer to your books when they feel closer to you. You are there to make a nice introduction of the book you poured your heart out to create. Just remember one thing - audiences are rooting for you. So go out and have fun.
Yoomi is determined to eat kimchi. She tries to disguise it by eating it on a cookie, on pizza, and in ice cream. But that doesn't work. Then Grandma shows Yoomi how to make kimchi pancakes. This story about family, food, and a six-year-old -coming of age- has universal themes, and at the same time celebrates Korean culture. A kimchi pancake recipe and other back matter are included.