I've had several people ask about these two books, and the question usually is: which one should I buy? The ideal answer is both. Although similar in content,. each book has unique material, and the approach and intent of the two is very different.
Geisler's book is a guide to the business of being a storyteller. In it she draws upon her own 17 years as a professional teller to cover, as the title states, the nuts and bolts of being a performer. Here is practical advice on getting started. Her advice on marketing covers establishing your niche, promotional materials, press releases and press kits, in-person promotion at showcases, bumper stickers and giveaways. She gives detailed descriptions of how she handles bookings and keeps records; how she organizes time, her office, and her library; and how to set goals. There is a section on preventing and solving such problems as telling in potentially difficult settings, and how to handle audiences that are disruptive, don't respond, or react inappropriately. There are resource lists in each chapter, and an appendix lists handy information such as the addresses of booking conferences (mostly U.S. but two Canadian),. and the national headquarters of organizations (sadly, no Canadian listings). Then there is the chapter which addresses every teller's nightmares: getting lost, being late, forgetting a booking, sickness, and voice problems. There is all of this and much more, all liberally sprinkled with anecdotes from Geisler's own experience and presented in brief, personal, easy to access sections. The result is an engaging, practical book which can be used for reference and inspiration. A godsend for beginning tellers.
The Storyteller's Guide; Storytellers Share Advice for the Classroom, Boardroom, Showroom, Podium, Pulpit and Center Stage edited by Bill Mooney and David Holt. Little Rock: August House, 1996. PBK ISBN 0-87483-482-1 212 pp. $$23.95
Learning from the experience of others is definitely the approach of The Storyteller's Guide. Mooney and Holt interviewed over 50 tellers, posing often-asked questions, and then edited the interviews together. Using this book is like sharing a confab with some of America's best known tellers.
Some of the topics covered are the same as those in Geisler's book, but there is a different depth of information because it is being gleaned from a wide array of tellers. And although there are instances of very specific information being given (i.e. Bill Mooney' s description of how he marketed himself in the early years, and how he does it now) the intent is not to take the reader step-by-step through working as a professional. It is, rather, to share advice on areas of interest common to tellers.
Six of the 20 chapters deal with stories: finding the right story, making it one's own, shaping oral tales from printed texts, creating original stories and stories from true-life events, what makes a story strong or weak.
From there the topics move on to the learning of stories, making a program flow, the role of the emcee, common mistakes made by the beginning teller, stage fright,. and the ethics of telling.
One chapter is devoted to copyright, another to censorship. There are chapters aimed specifically at the teacher / storyteller, and at the media specialist using storytelling in the library.
One of the best things about this book is that in addition to providing advice from the pros, it also lets the reader get to know them a little as they share their experiences. Their personalities ring clear in their responses,. giving people who may never meet them a chance to feel that there is a connection somehow. Return to: Top Title index Author index
Good reading, good advice, good idea. Whether you're just beginning, or are a seasoned teller, The Storyteller's Guide has something for you.
The Second Story Review, Vol 2 , No. 2, June 1997