Overcoming fears of public speaking

Public speaking scares me, but I’m getting better at it.

Within the last fortnight, I’ve done two public readings of my work and they’ve both been very successful. I think it will be a case of the more readings I do, the more at ease I will feel.

I am told that even the most confident people get nervous when speaking publicly. It’s a natural fight-or-flight mechanism that we’ve all inherited through evolution, so we just have to work with it. But being nervous is a good thing because it shows that you actually care¬†about what you’re doing. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone give a half-arsed performance!

Nerves actually help you to perform better. With all of that adrenalin rushing through your body, you just do what needs to be done and lose yourself in the moment. But of course, being nervous can lead to stuttering, shaky hands or complete stage fright.

Personally, I like to get my nerves under control with a bit of deep breathing and meditation. It also helps to put aside your fears of other people judging you. Just remember that the majority of people struggle with public speaking (myself included), so you’re not alone.

I’ve got another public reading coming up soon, but I think that I’ll be okay. Recently, I’ve broken through some sort of invisible barrier and overcame my public speaking fears. I’ve discovered that getting nervous “puts you in the zone” and the inevitable adrenalin rush should be used to your advantage, not your detriment.

Here’s a video of me performing a passage from my first book, Pearl’s Hereafter. If I can do this, then so can you:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ea841b1eb0oax6o/Nick%20reading%20at%20the%20enchanted%20forest.mp4?dl=0

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My dealings with a vanity publisher

Just before Christmas, I received the email that every writer dreams of receiving…

A publishing house was interested in one of my books!! After reading the sample chapters that I sent them, they wanted to see the full manuscript and said that they would get back to me within 4-5 weeks.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s been a very long wait since then. And no matter how hard I’ve tried, its been at the back of my mind, like I’ve been waiting for some sort of judgement day to arrive. Every time I’ve opened up my emails, my heart has fluttered with a mixture of both optimism and fear, simultaneously anticipating either outcome of the verdict.

Yesterday, I finally received a response. Ironically, it was one of the few times that I checked my emails and I wasn’t expecting a reply… they do say that a watched pot never boils, don’t they? But anyway, their response was something of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, they said that they loved my book and wanted to give me a chance. But on the other, they told me that I would need to make a contribution towards the initial publication costs. I still don’t know how much they’re going to ask for, as they said that this would be included in the proposed contract, but you can bet that it’ll be thousands of pounds.

I’ve since done a little research into this publisher and it seems that they are quite well-known for their attempts to extort money from aspiring authors. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find a newspaper article about them and read some comments about other authors who have had similar experiences with them. All of a sudden, their praise about my book meant nothing, as they probably say the same thing to many hopeful writers.

The practice is known as vanity publishing. For a fee, the publisher will publish your work, but it will never get big. What’s so horrible about this company is that it tries to hide the fact that it’s a vanity publisher and preys upon the hopes and dreams of writers, some of who probably cough up the money. Just in case you didn’t know, most publishers and agents DON’T ask for upfront fees because they take a commission from the book sales later on.

For the last few weeks, I have put a lot of energy into visualising what it would be like to get published. I have never wanted fame or fortune, but I did revel in the idea of my books being shared and read, imagining what it might be like to do book signings or see my books in the shops. But unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to go it alone.

Out of curiosity, I asked the publisher for some specific feedback about my book, which they said was “confidential” and could not be discussed until we were in production. This just confirmed my worst fears about them – had they even read my book?

So now I’ve decided to revert back to my original plan: self-publishing. I have three books under my belt now and I would very much like to share them with people. Fortunately, we live in a time where it is technologically possible for writers to take matters into their own hands and that is what I intend to do. I am grateful for my recent letdown because it has made me more determined than ever to share my work. So watch this space, folks!

Getting Started

Sometimes, getting started can be the most difficult part of the journey.

We come up with all sorts of reasons and excuses for not getting stuck in. Out of nowhere, a whole host of other things seem to require our attention, whether that be cleaning the house or watching cat videos on Youtube! But if we don’t take that first step into the unknown, then we would never get anything done!

Many of us turn to procrastination when we are afraid to proceed, but you must cast aside your fear and believe in yourself! If you do not have the discipline to face your tasks head-on, then it will take much longer for them to get done, or perhaps they might not get done at all. But once you get into the right frame of mind and start believing in yourself, you stand a better chance of achieving your goals!

Usually, I find that once I delve into a task, it’s never as daunting as I originally thought. For some reason, the human mind puts up barriers and makes something look much scarier than it actually is. But you’ve got to change your attitude towards these sorts of challenges and put aside your fear. Do not be afraid of failing and do not be afraid of something not being good enough… do something because it is what you love doing!

Getting started can be the most difficult step because you are committing to the road ahead. Indeed, commitment can be scary, but no journey can begin without that first step! And once you find your footing, you should be able to gather momentum and enjoy your journey. When you’re passionate about every step that you take, travelling towards your destination is much more enjoyable.