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Litfests Galore!

June 26th, 2015

port_eliot_festivalFirst , thanks to Mike for last Friday’s blog. Whatever he chooses to call it, I just wish I could write humour half as well as he does!

Summer seems to bring out a spate of literary festivals, big and small. There’s the Ampthill Literary Festival on 11th July; the Buxton Festival from 10th to 26th July; the Ledbury Poetry festival from 3rd to 12th July… the list goes on and on and full details can be found here.

It can be great to make the effort and go along to one of the larger ones where well-known authors are speaking. But some are very small and very local. If you’re a writer – have you ever thought of offering your services as a speaker, rather than a visitor? The smaller ones are a great place to cut your teeth and they will be grateful for your input.

If you’re new to standing up in front of people and talking, it can be a daunting experience. But it does get better with practice (honest!) and here are some tips that can help you feel at ease right from the start:

•             Try to visit the venue before the event so that you get a feel for the space and layout.  If this isn’t possible, ensure you arrive with plenty of time to spare so that you can check it out.

•             Always plan your talk carefully and practise at home beforehand.  The better your preparation, the less chance there will be of something going wrong – so never skimp on this.

•             Learn some breathing techniques so that you remain calm before you start speaking and also so that you project your voice with ease.

•             Speak slowly and clearly – but not so slowly that your audience falls asleep.  If possible, during the practice stage, record yourself so that you can listen critically to how you sound.

•             Ensure that you make eye-contact with your audience. Even if you are reading from your book, pause occasionally and look up to make eye contact.

•             It’s important that you include something interesting – or humorous – early on so that you really get your listeners’ attention.

•             Most people haven’t just come to hear you read from your book – they can buy a copy and take it away to read.  They are more interested in hearing anecdotes about you and your life, or the writing process.

•             If you intend to have a question and answer session at the end it may be helpful to have an anonymous friend with you who is briefed with some query to get the ball rolling.  There’s nothing more embarrassing than being met by silence when you ask if there are any questions.

•             Make sure that there are enough copies of your book on hand for people to buy – don’t pass up any opportunity to sell your work!

And finally, don’t be embarrassed to discuss payment with the organisers. But tread carefully here. You should expect to get travelling expenses under all circumstances and if the festival is a well- known one you should also expect to get some form of payment. But if it is a small affair you might want to consider that the exposure you’ll get and the opportunity to sell some of your books is worth the effort.

My guest next week is one of our Student Services Advisors, Megan, who’ll be giving you her views on how to make the most of your course.

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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