Why Pitching a Book is Scarier than Hannibal Lecter

Travel book pitch

Did you know I try to do something scary every day?

Some days it’s something simple like reaching out to someone by email. Sometimes I send off a guest post I’ve poured my heart into. Now and then I just going surfing.

There are plenty of things that scare me. The lovely Jen Gresham at Everyday Bright interviewed me about this strange practice so you can read more about why I do it here.

Now the more scary things I do, the scarier the things I do keep getting.

You see I’m running out of scary things to do, so now I have to do the things I’ve been putting off longest. The things that scare me most of all.

So in March I joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking.

Why Public Speaking Scares Me

I was a teacher for many years so I used to be at ease standing up front talking to people.

This year I’ve been doing a lot of talks and workshops about blogging and I feel comfortable with that. It’s okay teaching and talking to people about topics I know well but talking about myself is terrifying.

If you thought writing and sharing your personal writing on your blog was hard, then try talking about them to a room full of expectant strangers.

I also have a problem with putting my body on display.

I can talk away happily when sitting down. Standing behind the safety of a lectern is great. But I hate standing in front of people with nothing to hide behind.

I feel awkward. I don’t know what to do with my hands. I remember how I got teased at school for being a skinny giraffe.

Writing it down sounds ridiculous. Just as I can’t understand people who fear flying because it doesn’t bother me, so you may not be able to relate to this awkward body image thing of mine.

But it’s a deep-seated problem and to be honest joining Toastmasters (a group to help improve public speaking) has made it worse.

I never realized how scary it would be until I actually tried it.

I’ve given six speeches to my fellow Toastmasters on various topics but what bothers me is, unlike the people who’ve paid to learn from me, all they probably want to do is practice their own public speaking skills. Not listen to me. So I feel bad for boring them.

But deep down I know my speeches aren’t boring. I spend days writing them then many long hours practicing and memorizing them.

As with anything I’m a perfectionist.

I want my speeches to be better than anything Martin Luther King ever uttered. No wonder I get scared with the bar set that high.

Most times when I finish my speech at Toastmasters I want to run to the toilets and cry. Sometimes I do that.

But when I did my sixth speech there was a watershed moment. Afterwards I thought my speech was actually okay.

I know I shouldn’t feel so scared of speaking and I know the only way to kill my fear is to keep doing what scares me until I’m not ruled by that fear any more.

So that’s why I keep doing scary things every day and why I persevere with the things that scare me most.

Why Pitching a Travel Book Terrifies Me

Since my fear of public speaking is so out of proportion I decided it needs serious treatment. Instead of quitting like I so badly want to, I decided to participate in a live blog pitch for my book The Naked Travel Stories.

It’s doubly scary because I have to talk and, worse still, talk about my book The Naked Travel Stories which I’m terrified might not be good enough.

I haven’t even written the book yet and fear is probably why. I know procrastination for writers is driven by fear. It’s driven by the fear that our writing won’t be good enough.

I suffered rejection and it sucks but I know we can bounce back from rejection. I’ve done it.

Why I Pitched My Travel Book Anyway

So I signed up to pitch my book The Naked Travel Stories live in front of a publisher, an author and an audience of 60 other writers at a literary festival.

Here’s the video of the book pitch made about an hour before the pitch by Lake MacDonald in the Noosa hinterland. Can you tell how scared I am?

Now I’m ratcheting the fear up more by sharing this video with you. Because if speaking live in public is hard, being videoed has to be the worst.

Sharing the video on YouTube where who knows who might watch it strikes fear into my heart.

But hey, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Not much. It’s not exactly life-threatening is it?

That’s the thing about fear. It’s irrational, it’s cowardly, it’s idiotic. Worst of all fear robs us of living our dreams.

So we have to face those fears. They may seem real to us but really, they’re as fictitious as Hannibal Lecter himself.

I hope you’ll take courage from my exercise in conquering fear and do something scary too.

My Book Pitch For the Naked Travel Stories on Video

Can’t hear the video? It’s not your ears, the volume is low. I apologize. Next time I’ll really yell. Until then, please turn up your computer speakers and the YouTube video speakers – full blast:)

Can’t see the video? If you’re reading this in an email or RSS you need to visit the blog to see the video. See you there.

Non-Fiction Book Pitch Transcript: The Naked Travel Stories by Annabel Candy

Here’s the full transcript. I divided my pitch into three parts: Who would read the book, what it’s about and why I’m the best woman to write it.

The Naked Travel Stories fill the gap between who we once when we were children and young adults and who we are now.

They’re written for women aged 35 and older to explore the conflict between our childhood dreams and our parents’ dreams for us. Between the desire to follow those youthful dreams versus the instinct to play it safe and follow the beaten track. The desire to travel and have fun versus society’s expectation for us to settle down, have children and get a proper job.

The Naked Travel Stories cover the first ten years of my adult life when I was traveling the world, not just exploring the globe, but also exploring who I was, what my potential was and what I would become.

When I left school I knew I wanted to be a writer, in fact I’d known that since I first started school, but writing wasn’t a career or a lifestyle choice my parents supported.

So instead of following my dream I got two degrees, lived in eight different countries and traveled to more than 40 counties before finally coming to terms with who I am today – a mother, a wife and, at last, a writer.

But during those 10 years when I was traveling I experienced things which are at odds with the respectable business woman and mother you see before you.

The English private school girl, wearer of white gloves and a straw boater, nicknamed Baby Doll by her English teacher Mr. “Don’t Mention His Grandfather” Tolkien, has had a few adventures.

I’ve experienced sleep paralysis in Greece and, convinced there was a strange man in my room run outside naked, calling out to some nearby men for help then quickly switching from fear to confusion then tears when we discovered the intruder was nothing more than a figment of my imagination.

I’ve slept free in Germany during the Oktober Fest in Munich when beds are booked months in advance, wrapping myself in kitchen towels to survive the cold nights.

I’ve hitch-hiked extensively and traveled by donkey cart in Tunisia, Porsche in Germany, gravel truck in Zimbabwe and fire truck in Turkey. Palms slippery with sweat, hanging on grimly to the metal pole at the back as the truck careened round corners up a steep mountain pass with Turkish firefighters laughing merrily at me in the rear view mirror from the safety of the cab.

So how do we fill that gap between who we were, what we’ve done and what we’ve become?

It’s been a long, rocky journey. Sometimes funny, occasionally angst-ridden, at times plagued by depression but always in motion.

And over time I’ve learned to reconcile the little girl who wanted to be a writer with the hippy chick who traveled the world and unite them as happy room mates in this middle-aged body. They still have the odd skirmish but on the whole those three parts of me have learnt to get along.

Finally I’ve given myself permission to be the writer I was meant to be and accept that, while I might look like your average middle-aged mother, I’m not, and I never will be.

The Naked Travel Stories are a fun way to explore the differences between what we were and what we are now and come to terms with them.

Today I’m a writer and travel blogger. I started my blog Get In the Hot Spot two years ago and it now has over 20,000 unique visitors each month. I have over 2,000 subscribers and 5,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook.

I was chosen by Coca-Cola in 2010 as one of four Australian bloggers invited to become Live Positively Ambassadors because they liked my writing.

I frequently speak about blogging and social media to business and writing groups and hope to speak at BlogWorld, the largest social media event in the world, this November.

My travel writing has been featured in Escape Magazine and on some of the biggest blogs on the internet. I write for the local tourism company Sunshine Coast Destination Limited and Regional Development Australia and am frequently interviewed about travel, writing and social media.

Thank you for listening to my journey round the world and through my heart and for your interest in The Naked Travel Stories, about a woman who spends ten years traveling the world to find herself, but ends up back where she started.

Thank You, Merci and Kop Khun Ka

Many thanks to my dear friend Lisa Alexiou for recording the video and for her incredible, generous and much appreciated support for my writing and all my nutty ideas.

Thank you so much to all my Toastmasters mates in Coolum for listening to my speeches including this travel book pitch and encouraging me onwards and upwards.

Muchas muchas gracias to the Get In the Hot Spot team and readers who’ve made me brave enough to share my stories. I am so very grateful to have you here.

What scares you?

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


  1. Tess The Bold Life September 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    This is so amazing. I’m voting you bold woman of the year! I loved Toastmasters. Everyone is kind there. Good for you for your soon to be speaking engagement at Blog World! ( I believe in gratitude in advance;)
    You’re amazing and I’m so happy I’ve gotten to know you here. woo hoo!

    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Tess, thank you so much for encouraging me! Oh the BlogWorld speaking didn’t come off this year. I think someone is telling me to hang out here and do more writing:) Hope to make it back to BlogWorld another time:)

  2. Jen Gresham September 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Hooray for this, Annabel. First off, you should have no body images at all. You look so lovely, in this video and in real life. In fact, I found myself terribly distracted by your outfit, thinking, “Where can I get something like that?” LOL

    Second, the book sounds so fab. Just starting writing it!


    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks so much! I’ve been trying to share some stories here to get me started:) Seems to be the only way to do it! So appreciate your support:)

  3. Rita Vail September 28, 2011 at 12:45 am - Reply

    You are an inspiration. I am scared to start a blog. You make it look easy. Thank you.

    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Rita, lol, well don’t forget I was too scared to blog six years ago too:) No stopping me now! I hope you will get round to it when you’re ready as well.

  4. Barbara September 28, 2011 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Annabel you have nothing to worry about. I couldn’t hear the video well at all but I watched your body language and you seemed very much at ease. I read the transcript and it blew my mind the adventures you’ve had!

    With the life you’ve led so far I think you are capable of anything. Start writing!!

    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Barbara,

      Sorry, the sound is a problem. Start writing! I need to make that my mantra and set aside time every day/week for writing more of those stories:) Thank you, I’m so lucky to have this support from you. I do appreciate it.

  5. Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living September 28, 2011 at 3:12 am - Reply


    I think I was one of the first to see your video on YouTube and complimented you. How can you remember everything you want to say and not get muddled? Was there a teleprompter? Anyway, I interviewed Robert MacPhee asmy first podcast, and we talked about “how to get out of your comfort zone.” I asked him about procrastination and self-sabotaging, and he specifically said that you need to change the way you think about yourself. Instead of saying, “I’m a procrastinator or I am hopeless at public speaking,” you need to change the way you talk about yourself. “I always get things done on time,” etc. What do you think about that?

    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Sonia,

      Lol, you did watch it before I could even tell anyone about it. Amazing.

      It probably took me about three hours to memorize the speech and about the same time to write and edit it. It felt like longer though;)

      I totally agree with the positive thinking. I am getting better at everything every day;) We all are by hanging out with other positive and like-minded people. Thank you so much for being here:)

  6. Tom Loarie September 28, 2011 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I found your blog and video inspirational. I work with over 600 executives, managers, and professionals who are in-transition through my parish. While faith-based, we open our doors to all. You exemplify what we tell our members about stepping outside the comfort zone to find the real you. You provide the proof. I will share this with our members. Thanks for being bold and “out there.”

    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for watching and sharing it. I appreciate that. It’s so important to push ourselves to do new things. Curling up in a ball would be easier and is so tempting but life is better when we accept a challenge and run with it.

  7. Cherry Hanz September 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    I love to read your blog, so start writing that book!! I know it will be a best seller. I love the fact that you like to try out scary things. Scary things just come my way! I do believe in the Law of Attraction, so maybe subconciously I am choosing scary? And I agree with “Gutsy Living” Reprogramming our self talk is the first step to success! Hey, that sounds like a quote and its me saying that!!

    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Cherry,

      Lol, I hope you’re choosing scary and thanks for sharing the post. You’re an inspiration:)

  8. Hari Kotrotsios September 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    The #1 rule in Toastmasters is: don’t apologise! Everyone is there to practice and improve their public speaking skills in a safe environment and get feedback on their presentations.
    And while we all want to practice our own public speaking skills, we’re also there to improve our listening skills – it’s a great opportunity to hear how others speak and learn from them as well.
    I have seen several of your before & after speeches, & noted the difference in the final delivery – you’ve come across more polished and relaxed, which proves the #2 rule: practice, practice, practice.
    The #3 rule is: fake it till you make it. If you look & sound confident & know what you’re talking about, the audience won’t know that you’re shaking in your boots.
    You’ve taken a great step out of your comfort zone to face this particular fear and as thousands of Toastmasters can attest – it DOES get easier. You won’t know yourself in another six months!
    We want to hear more of your stories.
    PS: I’d much rather speak in public than throw myself out of a plane…

    • Annabel Candy September 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Hari, lol, hmm, sky diving versus public speaking! It’s a tough one:) Thanks so much for all the tips and for your help in my TM and speaking journey. It’s been incredible. My favourite part of TM’s is actually the listening critic where you answer questions about the other people’s speeches! I love that:)

  9. Dave Doolin September 29, 2011 at 11:46 am - Reply

    You’re the best, Annabel.

  10. Penelope J. September 30, 2011 at 3:39 am - Reply

    Very much enjoyed this and finding out about your journey from sheltered schoolgirl to intrepid adventurer/traveller. I can see a lot of Toastmasters (gestures, intonation)in your presentation, though a live audience is a bit different from a video one. In some ways, yours (England, Toastmasters, crazy travel experiences when young, wanting to be a writer, etc.) are similar to my own. However, I love public speaking and pitching books – personally, as well as job interviews, and things like that where I can sell myself/my personality as much as my product.

    I think the most fascinating aspects of your book and your life are some of the crazy or unusual experiences you had when you travelled, and the fact that you seem to be fearless. These are attention grabbers and great hooks (as in the blog post you referenced about France), and maybe you should start off earlier talking about them and then the reasons leading up to your travel rather than the other way around. When you talk about the crazy/interesting experiences, you brighten up a lot and get out of your comfort zone. Also, is there any way that you can reference some of them with photos or such, or have an exotic African backdrop rather than the very pretty one that you’re using here?

    You’re doing a great job, you’re well on your way to success, big time I hope, and the best of luck with your book.

  11. Lisa Alexiou October 17, 2011 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    I am always amazed at your intelligence, the sheer determination you show to be the very best you can be, but most of all just how damn beautiful and real you are. I’m sure the people who read your blog see that same someone I’m talking about, who is always so willing to share so much. Always my thanks for taking me on a journey of happiness filled with laughter and enlightenment. Here’s to your continued success and the publication of your travel stories:-)

  12. Mads Singers November 6, 2011 at 3:35 am - Reply

    I used to struggle with public speaking as well, but a couple of years in Toastmaster have helped a lot ;)

  13. Linda Benton November 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Dear Annabel,

    I enjoy your regular tweets and blog, and after reading this post, I felt compelled to write to you. I have recently written a travel book called ‘Two Feet Forward’. It has been a long and terrifying process, and I too have questioned (many times) whether my book is good enough to present to the world. There have however, been a couple of things throughout my writing journey that have given me strength and faith that I am on the right track: The first is a quote from Betty Bender “Everything I’ve ever done that was ultimately worthwhile, initially scared me to death.”

    Also, someone once said to me “If you have the potential to inspire others through your stories, why keep this from them?”

    Your travel stories sound both fascinating & inspiring Annabel, and I look forward to reading them.

    All the best

  14. Seana Smith November 26, 2011 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    I’m desperate to know how the the live pitch went at the festival! Were you happy with your delivery? Did you learn a lot front he other pitchers and from the publisher?

    When I worked in TV and now as an author, I comfort myself by remembering that no-one except you knows all the shots you missed and how good it all could have been. people see what you manage to get out in the end and it’s always fresh and new to them.

    Your stories are hilarious and well written and are already out in public through this blog, people really, really enjoy them, so the more the merrier!!

  15. Jt Clough | Big Island Dog December 12, 2011 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Mahalo for writing your fears “out loud” for us to hear. It truly is an inspiration to move forward myself. Just as you did. Do it anyway!
    I have the research and the personal experience to start my next e-book on Natural Healing for Dogs and yet I’m scared to start, for some unknown reason.
    I’ve finished one e-book on running with dogs and am really proud of it. Though I need to promote it more. Another thing you helped me feel more inspiration about because of your post.
    Mahalo wags!

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