How to Speak to a Crowd

Afraid of public speaking? Conquer your fears and promote your work! | writing | speaking | personal growth


Cole Smith

by Cole Smith



You’ve booked a public appearance to promote your work! But wait. That means you have to come out from behind your word processor and talk to people! If you’re thinking of faking an illness and calling off the whole thing, try these strategies instead:




Recently, I was listening to a popular lecturer. A fan stood up and asked he could become a better speaker. “How do I talk to a crowd?” he wondered.


“You don’t,” said the host. “You talk to the individual.”


Remember, your audience is made up of individuals.Think of your Ideal Reader and address her. What does she want to know? What problems can you solve for her? What motivated her to show up at your event? (For that matter, what do you hope to hear when you go to an author’s talk?)



“Hey, look at that nose ring!”

If you focus on yourself it will cause a spiral effect. You’ll notice your heart rate, quavering voice, and reddening face. That attention will only increase your nervousness until you lose your train of thought…which makes you more nervous!


Instead, focus on outward details: the refreshment table at the back of the room, the man with the wild eyebrows, or your best friend who came to support you but is sneaking a look at her phone because she’s already heard all your stories.


Don’t derail your own momentum, but study your surroundings.



The Plan

Someone once told me, “I never make a plan. Nothing ever went how I planned, so I gave up.”


To put it delicately, this is nuts. Go off script if the spirit moves you but make a script! Broad, or detailed–whatever makes you more comfortable. I write my must-tell points in large, bold font, then put supporting information in a smaller font. If I get stuck, a quick glance will guide me to the next idea. But smaller lines of filler keep me from relying on the outline too much. I have to pause to find my footing with the smaller print.


But that wont be a problem, my friend. Read on.



27 Times

My college professor used to tell us that twenty-seven was the ideal number of practice sessions to guarantee a successful presentation. I realized somewhere in the teens that he was being facetious and I’d just taken him literally… Trust me, if you aim for twenty-seven practice runs, your speech will be incredible. And it will happen long before you hit the twenty-seven mark… You know you’ve practiced enough when you can recite your speech under your breath during a grocery trip or morning yoga. And use a timer!



Most of all, this moment will pass just like all other moments. So choose to have fun!


How do you like to prepare for an author’s event?





Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for writers and creatives at


Let’s get social! Find me on Facebook and Pinterest 

Find my cozy mystery, Waiting for Jacob, here.





Background Research Fun: Marketing Via Sensory Input

By N. M. Cedeño





Did you ever go into a grocery store and smell cooking bacon as you passed by the area where bacon was for sale? Or step into the baked goods sections and inhale the aroma of baking bread? Did you know that many grocery stores purposely “pipe in” those scents in the hopes of making you buy more than you need? Why would they do that? Because it works.

Fun fact: a research study found that the scent of baking in a grocery store increased the sale of baked goods three-fold. Certain food scents have been shown to not only cause people to overeat, but also to over-shop. Those employees cooking and handing out samples in the aisles of the grocery store are doing their job even if you don’t taste a sample. Just the smell of food cooking is enough to inspire people to buy more food.

Some of my favorite scents, picture by N. M. Cedeno

Scientists have discovered that the sense of smell has a strong impact on memory, consequently certain smells can evoke certain memories and emotions. The “Proustian memory effect” explains how childhood memories linked to scents last a lifetime. So when you walk into an apartment complex lobby and smell cookies baking, and suddenly feel safe, comfortable, and at home, there’s a reason for that. Similarly, real estate agents recommend staging a house for sale with the scent of cinnamon in the air.

But scent isn’t the only way that businesses try to manipulate people into buying, renting, or choosing a service. Sound plays a part as well. From the gentle sound of flowing water in a fountain at a spa or massage clinic to the music selected to play in a store, the sounds you hear in a business are frequently selected to set a particular mood or inspire a particular emotion. Researchers have even done studies to try and find the right combination of scent and music to increase impulse buying in stores.

Innumerable tricks are used to appeal visually to consumers, and not just in the advertisements, product arrangement, and signage. How about that fish tank in your dentist’s office? It’s there because many people find watching fish swim to be relaxing, helping ease the anxiety of patients awaiting procedures and making them more comfortable while they wait. Colors used in décor can be used to make a business seem more cheerful or calm or serious. A particular shade of pink paint has been used in jails for years because it is thought to reduce aggressive behaviors, although the research is inconclusive. Casinos have long applied methods of using décor and layout to manipulate people into gambling more.

Many businesses set out to create an atmosphere to send certain messages. Banks want to project security, professionalism, and respectability. Spas want to create an atmosphere of relaxation. Expensive car dealerships and casinos want create an atmosphere of wealth and luxury and to inspire risk-taking and impulsiveness in customers. Grocery stores want people hungry to buy more food. Upscale boutiques want to project a feeling of exclusivity. All of these places are going to try to send those messages via the sensory input that the customers receive as they approach and walk into the business. Savvy businesses will appeal to as many of your senses as they can.

So, the next time you walk into a business, pause and let your senses take in your surroundings. What do you smell? What colors do you see? What emotions are the scents and color scheme inspiring? Listen to the music. Is it upbeat? Or calming? Are there other sounds in the background that might have been selected to set the mood? How about the lighting? Is it soft or bright? What sensory input has been added to “enhance” your experience? Is the business trying to manipulate you into impulse buying or buying more than you need? Or are they simply trying to get you to relax before your regular dental exam or massage therapy? Not all sensory-based manipulation is bad, but an awareness of it can be very useful.

This blog contains some of the fascinating background research I came across for my Bad Vibes Removal Services series. In the series, the Bad Vibes Removal Services business has a list of available services that includes an emotional atmosphere interior redesign. Some of that redesign involves using the techniques discussed above. Because the books are fictional, paranormal mysteries, the Bad Vibes company services also include cleansing the built-up negative emotional energy from spaces and getting rid of ghosts.



N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her debut novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017). Visit her at


Getting Educated on Marketing

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

As a writer there are two things I truly suck at, punctuation and marketing.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to work on both.  So when an on line course I had been eyeing was offered for free for one week only I signed up.


This was my first experience with an on line class and how they work.  I knew each day of the Book Marketing Summit I would receive an email with links to the days segments.  On day one I learned there would be 4 or 5 segments each day.  Each link was accessible for 48 hours and then it disappeared.


The segments consisted of interviews with a knowledgeable professional about a specific aspect of marketing; most of them were an hour long.  That’s four or five hours a day, add in my part time job, laundry, meals, etc, etc.  I would not be spending any time with critters that week.


At the end of the seven days I had worked 26 hours and traveled close to 400 miles to do it.  I had completed all 28 segments and had 40 pages of notes. 

I have now sorted my notes into categories and have a game plan.  The first order of business for me is to start building my list.  What list you ask, why my e mail list of course.  This list will consist of people who want to follow the progress of my publishing journey with my new book. 

On a bi-weekly, or possibly monthly basis I will e mail each of them an update on my progress, and offer a free look behind the scenes every now and then to keep them engaged.  Once the book is released they will get an e mail with a bonus if they purchase the book.   .  If this sounds like a journey you would like to take with me just E mail me   Feel free to share this blog with others that may also be interested.


The timing on this marketing summit couldn’t have been better. I am in the final stages of finishing a book my sister and I wrote together.  The working title of the book is simply “Sisters”.  It is a memoir that takes the reader through 12 years of our lives as we become adults.


As I build my list I will also be putting together my launch team. What is a launch team?  It’s a group of people that are super interested in this process.  The launch team is my sounding board for decisions on things like the book description, the cover,  keywords, what freebees to offer (launch team members get all the freebies)   categories and more. The launch team members will have first access to the book and I am hoping most will write reviews. 


There is still a lot to do before we go to print, but I have learned a lot about on line marketing and I am hoping my new found education will serve me well in the future.  What are your marketing secrets? How will you apply them to your next project? 

Thanks for stopping by.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Cover All the Birds I See CoverHow will you apply them to your next project.






DUMFOONERT…just a bit!

Nancy Jardine

This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Some readers may already know that I take my stock of novels and do signing/ selling sessions at local Craft Fair Venues. I really enjoy these events but have to say I never quite know what questions might be asked of me.

Last Saturday was a really good one. The event was one of the large pre-Christmas Fairs in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, with over a hundred quality crafters displaying their wares. I say quality because anyone trying to sell goods that are outsourced ready-made, and not home crafted, are not given table space.

So there I was answering all sorts of easy things before making sales of my books. What made me become an author? What inspired a particular story? Which was my first novel? …. I had some return customers who stopped to buy another book which, I can wholeheartedly say, really boosts this particular author’s spirits. But I also had some humdingers of questions!

Photo-Nancy Jardine

One very well-turned-out lady lingered over a read of my ‘information’ boards describing the settings of my novels. She briefly responded to my initial greetings but said “it was fine” when I offered to explain the books- meaning no thank you. Then she proceeded to lift and lay the inspection copies I have available at the front of the table, slowly absorbing the blurbs, flicking through the first pages.

(n.b. photo is from the previous venue. I used a less crushed tablecloth last week!)

Other customers came and went and she was still there. Silently reading and quite absorbed. A spy of some sort came to mind but that was the fanciful author in me rearing its ugly head! Mmm… It was a new experience for me. I can’t quite bring myself to be an aggressive salesperson, so I waited. Then came the DUMFOONERT bit.

Eventually, she said, “Why don’t you just write in one genre? It has to be much easier to sell books that way.”

Ah! As a salesperson I never want to offend a potential customer, especially one who seems a little unreceptive to my wares. However, I’m always as honest as I can be, so I told her that any kind of marketing of novels is difficult and that it definitely would be an easier task to be ‘branded’ as a particular genre author—but I said that I don’t always take the easy way out. I told her that as a reader I enjoy books written across many different genres and that as a writer, I like the variety of creating stories across different genres. I went on to say that although I feel I’m primarily an author of historical adventures, I’ve loved the freedom of writing contemporary mysteries because I don’t have to think so much about the conventions of the historical era.

Nancy Jardine-Celtic Fervour Series

She mostly listened to my spiel though asked the occasional easy question. Then, having picked up the 3 pack version of my Celtic Fervour Series she asked, “Why did you choose to write about a historical period so long ago?”

“That’s a great question!” I said grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I wasn’t dumbfounded at all. My list was quite long.

  • Because it’s a hard era to write about
  • Because it’s a pre-historic period that has very few written sources to research so I have to work all the harder to interpret the archaeological records
  • Because I didn’t want to write about an era that lots of other authors have covered already
  • Because I love to learn about Roman Scotland history and archaeology
  • “In fact,” I said, “I’m doing the FutureLearn  Hadrian’s Wall Course with Newcastle University right now because I want to know even more. (By the way I’m glad I’m squeezing the course into my already busy schedule because it’s proving useful already!)

I had a lot of positive becauses.

I was again DUMFOONERT when she smiled and said, handing over the money for the books, “You’ve convinced me! I want all three books. I wanted to be sure you know what you’re writing about and it’s not just crappy romantic drivel that’s half-hearted history.”

Did I have an answer for that? I’ll let you decide…

I do hope she’s a happy reader, except I’m not even sure if she was buying the gift pack for herself or for someone else.

Whatever you’re doing this November, have a lovely time!

Nancy Jardine writes in 3 different genres (smiley face here) – historical romantic adventure; contemporary romantic mystery; time travel historical adventure for early teens.


Nancy is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Scottish Association of Writers. You can find her at these places:

Blog:  Website:   Facebook: &

email:  Twitter @nansjar

Amazon Author page





Fun with Book Promotion by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1Writing is hard work. You have to create believable but inventive plots and characters people care about or hate depending on their role in your story. The setting must support the world you’ve created and the ending must satisfy the readers so that the want more. After all this hard, challenging, and satisfying work, you finally have a book: a real one that you can hold in your hand, turn the pages, and hold up to say “I wrote this.”

After the joy of birthing your new “baby” comes the hard part – marketing the dang thing. While we love our work and hopefully so do our friends and family, we still need, want, crave others to like it, too. So we do launch parties, book signings, Goodreads Giveaways, Facebook posts, bookstore queries, and anything else we can think of to tell people about this precious piece of ourselves that we have launched into the world.

Recently, a fellow author, Lois Winston, invited me to contribute to an author cookbook featuring dessert recipes along with our thoughts on love and writing as well as a blurb about our books/stories. The idea is that people will get some great recipes and maybe find a few new favorite authors in the process andIMG_6458 the writers will have another forum to connect with potential readers.

I jumped at the chance, offering my family’s recipe for Hidden Treasure Cookies, aka chocolate cups and caramel cups. This is the recipe that one child, upon tasting the cookies for the first time, turned to her mom and asked, “Can we adopt Miss Erin?” Yes, they are that good and one of the gems of our Christmas cookie trays. My thoughts on love and writing were pretty basic, yet true from my perspective but the recipe… so good.

The result of Lois’ effort is an amazing book entitled Bake, Love, Write and includes recipes and inspirations from 105 authors. In addition to the book itself, a group of the contributors are holding an electronic scavenger hunt during the month of October. I had never heard of this before but thought – why not, and I’m so glad I did. The participating authors have hidden a Halloween icon on one of the pages of their author websites and have donated a book, e-book, or swag item as prizes. Contestants must go to the author pages, find the icons and report their findings to be eligible for prizes which will be chosen through Raffle Copter. You can learn more and participate if you’d like here.

What a brilliant way to get people to read our author pages, learn more about our books, win prizes, and have some fun. Now if only I knew another group of connected authors with books to promote who might want to participate in a scavenger hunt…?

The recipes in Bake, Love, Write are awesome as are the authors themselves and it’s a wonderful way to take the drudgery out of book promotion. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Also, today is my husband’s birthday so a quick shout-out to him. Happy Birthday, Mike!

You can learn more about me at:

Erin Farwell

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