Facing an audience: putting a book ‘out there’

Posted on September 8, 2014

author talks in schools, publishing a bookIt’s a strange thing, but when you write a book, you don’t ever really stop to think about people reading it.

I remember how incredibly taken aback I was when my first non-fiction book came out and people began emailing me to thank me for its useful, practical advice – and it’s even more bewildering with fiction.

I popped into my local bookshop last week and the lovely owner came over to tell me how much he was enjoying book one of The Mapmaker Chronicles. I think I physically jumped about ten centimetres.

“You’re reading it?” I whispered.

“Yes,” he whispered back. “People will, you know.”

Even stranger is the realisation that I have to read it myself. Aloud.

Tomorrow I am heading in to my sons’ school to do the first ever talks about The Mapmaker Chronicles. Two sessions, with just me and 60-odd tweens in each.

No pressure.

I had to choose a passage to read from the book, and, having ummmed and aaaahed for days, I eventually just emailed my publisher and asked, ‘which bit would you read?’

She came back in minutes to suggest one of the most exciting sections of the book. Of course.

So now I am standing in front of a mirror, practising. In my mind, I look and sound like Cate Blanchett, but I’m suspecting the reality may be somewhat removed from that.

Wish me luck.

PS: I took a photo of the acknowledgements page. That’s you!


  1. Josephine-Anne Griffiths

    A little late I know, but I hope the talks went well. I think tweens are such a captive audience 😉
    I still have to buy my own copy of Mapmaker Chronicles; which better be soon as I am thinking of getting it for my 11 year old granddaughter. I am certain the girls will be enjoying it just as much as the boys. Especially those girls out there who are ‘tomboys’ at heart like me 😀

  2. Sonia Life Love Hiccups

    You are going to be all kinds of awesome… and more! Go forth and be fabulous hun xx

  3. Druime@SnippetsandSpirits@gmail.com

    Wow. Congratulations and best of luck. The more you practice the more relaxed you will be, so in front of the mirror will pay off.

  4. Kelly Exeter

    Where’s my damn copy!!

    So so so sooooo excited for you Al!

  5. Helen K

    How exciting – and so well done! Can only imagine how exciting it is, and how special to be reading to your school community (and you will be FAR better than Cate Blanchett – funny reference as I just shared my memory about the fear from being bossed about by Cate (the most scary of any of my house / drama / school captains) at my school reunion last weekend – by contrast you are someone the kids will warm to). So touched to be part of your big group of supporters – lovely for you to acknowledge us!

  6. Naomi

    How exciting! I hope it went well and congrats!

  7. Lucy

    How exciting! School sounds like a terrific place to start and, as you say, hone your message. Wishing you all the best for this time ahead, you will be a pro before long! And I love seeing the part on your acknowledgements page thanking the friends who kept asking how you were going – I enjoy the same thing, such a boost to know other people are thinking of what you’re up to!

  8. Kym Campradt

    Good luck, Al! I bet you will be great and the kids will love it. Your boys must be chuffed too. I love being part of this community – you’ve helped me so much and I really appreciate it! Thank you. Look forward to reading Book 1 🙂

  9. J M Levinton (@JMLevinton)

    You’ll do fine! But while reading about your book, I discovered it’s not actually out yet. May I ask how you marketed to do readings ahead of time? Or maybe write a post about it? (I know, presumptuous of me to suggest this, but the mechanics of this side of the profession baffles me.)

    • Allison Tait

      Hi J.M, In this case, I’m lucky to have a supportive school community. Both of my boys are at the school, and I’ve been in and out of there over the years doing writing workshops and various other volunteer-style things. So they’re allowing me to practise on these kids. Normally, I’d wait until the book comes out because, well, books are then available to buy, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to hone my message before launch day. But I think the key to anything like this is mostly asking, rather than waiting to be asked. 🙂 A

      • J M Levinton (@JMLevinton)

        I think you’re ahead in the game for even considering doing this. Please post on how it goes! (And thanks for the advice.)

        • Allison Tait

          I will – and thanks – and you’re welcome! 🙂

  10. Annabel Smith

    It’s really hard picking out the right part to read aloud. I always try to choose a section that doesn’t contain any spoilers, but that also means I’m probably not choosing the most exciting parts. I asked Lisa Hill to launch the book for me in Melbourne and she chose to read out a section I had never even contemplated – and it sounded great! I think it’s one of those things where we’re too close to the material to see it clearly.

    How nervewracking to read in front of your children & their peers – that certainly sounds like a tough audience – good luck!

    • Allison Tait

      Yes, it’s always interesting to see which bits other people like best! A

  11. JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter)

    Good luck Al! They will love you, and the book of course. And so happy to be a part of your little Fibro community here too. x

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