Let’s Talk

by Julie, enjoying “spring” in Somerville.

Let's TalkI am preparing classes in arts administration designed to help performing artists learn/develop their administrative skills so they can produce their own work, or better understand the business side of the art. As I prepare the classes, one thing that keeps coming up is the role of the audience and the interaction between artists and audience. The importance of communication, and not assumption.

A couple of weeks ago Sheila and Barb both used the word “talk” in their blog titles. It inspired me to think about “talking” given my arts administrative lens. Let me explain, since these skills apply to authors as well.

In the arts, it is good to talk to your audience. This doesn’t mean that you change your art depending on what they say. What it does mean is that by talking to them you can make your pitch–let them know and understand why your work is worthy of their time and money. By the way, talking also means listening.

Talking to other artists is a gift. No one understands your path better than someone else who has traveled it. Ask for advice. Give it. Share ideas. Offer support. One person’s success does not mean lack for you. The work is too hard to believe that. So go ahead and talk, share, celebrate, laugh.

At some point you’ll have to talk to an agent and/or an editor (or a director or casting agent). Part of this talking may be to make a pitch about your work (or to audition). But you have to develop relationships with the folks you work with, which means you need to talk to them. Relationships matter.

The final person to talk to? Yourself. Give yourself pep talks. Practice your pitch in the mirror. Read your work aloud, especially the dialogue. Talk through plot problems with your cat.

Any other folks we should be talking to? What do you think, dear readers?

20 Thoughts

  1. Great points, Julie. Talking with your audience also lets you hear what they didn’t like in other authors’ work – and what they did like.

    1. They do indeed, though I am always careful to keep that on a positive track. One person’s dislike is another person’s love.

  2. Great post. Sometimes I think that when you agree to do a presentation at a library or event, the audience thinks they’re going to be sitting through a canned lecture (snooze!). If you (or your panel) just start talking to the crowd and interacting, they are happily surprised and much more interested in what you’re saying. Don’t be shy about it–you know your books and your genre better than anyone else, so share.

    1. So important Sheila. I’ve been finding that standing up helps people engage more too. Also, no matter the size of the audience, they deserve your very best.

  3. Talk to your legislators. That can mean inviting political reps to readings and performances, sending thank yous when an event is funding in part by taxes or state funds, and letting them know that arts are important and bring income and visitors to your town.

    1. I should have added that! Advocacy is so important. I am a huge arts advocate, and am in regular contact with my city, state, and federal reps. I write to ask them to support some legislation, and write to thank them when they do. Though the arts are on of my main focusses, I also write about other issues. Our reps care about voters, so stay in touch.

    1. I had a friend who used to say that fear was excitement without breathing. Kicking fear to the curb, or being brave despite fear, is so important.

  4. Nice post. Thought provoking. Let me just say that “talking to” might be better thought of as “talking with.” Think of interactions as a two way flow. “Talking to” sometimes sounds like “talking at.” My mother used to give me a “talking to” when I had done something wrong.

    1. Good point. I do think that owning your voice, and your part of the conversation is very important, so I wouldn’t make the change all the time. But I would make it on some of my points today.

  5. Great post. I often forget the “self talk” portion of this. I’m getting over my qualms about talking to other authors like, you know, almost equals.

    1. Take out the “almost” Liz! You’re close to publication day–and have done all the work leading up to it. Enjoy that, and this whole ride!

  6. All of these are great people to talk with. And the listening is very important because the feedback and help you determine if you are on the right track or the wrong track.

  7. Great post! I remember the first time a “name” author called me by name. I actually looked behind me to see who they were talking to. Listening is so important, too. We learn so much from those who take the time to share their thoughts with us. I remember being petrified to give my first author talk and then having a reader come up to me and make a comment, and part of her comment was how long it took her to screw up the courage to talk to me. A first-time author shaking in her shoes. Certainly put it all in perspective. We are one human family.

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