You Are the Expert

Many times I hear authors speak about being uncertain of themselves when offered the opportunity to do a book signing, meet readers through a virtual book club, or be interviewed by the media.

Gulp. It can be a bit intimidating.

But here’s something to keep in mind, and this applies to people in many walks of life and in many situations.

You are the expert.

You wrote your book, not the reader or interviewer. You created the characters or did the research, not them. While others may often know about your topic, and face it, some people may know even more about your topic than you do, no one else wrote your book but you.

That makes you uniquely qualified to talk about the book, the topic, the characters.

Don’t believe me?

That’s OK. I’ve had author clients not be so sure about this advice about being the expert. But time after time, my author clients have come back to me and said, “that interview was fun. I did know more about my topic than I realized, and I had no trouble answering the questions. They start out dreading the questions, and end up wondering where the time went because it just flew by.

Now, it’s not impossible for someone to ask you a question for which you have no answer.

So if someone asks you a question you can’t answer, there’s no need to panic. No one knows the answer to all the questions they may be asked.

Don’t lose your cool, don’t get flustered, just say, “oh what an interesting idea. I don’t know the answer to that.”

And smile.

If the question is way off topic or unfair, chances are good that the others listening will recognize that. But your best bet is always to smile and remain kind.

Even if it’s something about which you have no idea. And who knows, that question may launch you into an idea for your next book.

One other thought to keep in mind. You being the expert and knowing more about your topic than anyone else doesn’t mean they want to know everything you know. You want them to find you interesting so they will want to read your book and tell others about it. You don’t want to bore them to tears trying to teach them everything about your topic.

So it is also good advice to think a bit about what you expect to be asked and prepare a bit for those questions. Notes on a notecard are even OK, but don’t write out verbatim everything you want to say. You want this to be a conversation, informal and flowing easily.

Above all, try to relax, be yourself, and have fun.

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on April 16, 2021.
Joni Sullivan Baker
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