One of the best ways to build an author platform is by speaking about your book. By sharing your expertise in this way you will come into direct contact with potential book buyers, tap into existing readership, build your email list, and ultimately increase your income.
However, you need a plan for finding these speaking gigs. We are going to explain where you can find them and what to do if you don’t have a ton of speaking experience or expertise in a particular niche.
Speaking doesn’t have to mean a two-hour workshop or TED Talk; they can be as simple as presentations at libraries, talks at fundraisers, and even webinars. You won’t always get paid, but coupled with selling copies of your book (which we’ve done), these types of engagements are a great opportunity to increase your visibility and to build a network of fans and contacts.
There are a number of strategies one can use to successfully get on the speaking radar and help promote a newly published book, beginning with your local community. These three strategies can help you land more speaking engagements.
- Start locally.
Your local community offers wonderful opportunities for networking and speaking. Almost all of these networking communities are looking for speakers to engage their members.
Here are a few examples:
- Local Rotary, Kiwanis and Soroptimist clubs love to feature different stories and profiles about their communities. You don’t have to be a member or write a book about business. You don’t have to be a bestselling author or a member of the National Speaking Association. You’ll typically be given a twenty- to twenty-five-minute speaking slot where you can talk about the themes of your book or the writing process—always offer a few helpful tips or strategies.
- Your local chamber of commerce would also be a great option. They often have lunch and learn opportunities or may even need a keynote for one of their member luncheons. Get involved, get known and then get speaking!
- Informal business-type luncheons in your area can be identified through meetup.com, and chances are there will be quite a few of these. These are homegrown opportunities. Plan on attending a few. Get to know the members. Ask what topics might be of interest for future speaking engagements. Offer to do a talk on a subject of value. Fiction is always a harder sell than nonfiction, but if you can talk about how your book supports universal themes or lessons, you’ll have a better chance of engaging your audience.
- Bookstores and libraries are hungry for author talks and panels, but often there can be low turnout, which can be discouraging; in fact, bookstores and libraries are concerned about low turnout. Instead of immediately getting discouraged or intimidated due to a lack of a following, use your social media voice to drive “customers” to your venue. Set up a plan of attack ahead of time for promoting speaking events. Google
- Post to Facebook
- Get on a podcast to promote it
- Create a press release and email it to the papers
- Promote it to your growing email list and all local connections
- Post to friends Facebook page, all groups you belong to and hopefully your own Facebook page
- If you don’t have a Facebook page create one
- Also, create an Amazon author page and post it there
- Note: If you don’t have either of these we can help. Email us to get more information on these services at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Appeal to different audiences.
Another tried and true way to get more speaking gigs is to appeal to multiple audiences. Use themes as a starting point. If you’re a novelist or memoirist, pitch themes that have the strongest universal appeal.
Each chapter of your book may serve as a new topic that could appeal to a different niche market. Get creative. Create several different themes that would appeal to different markets. Women’s organizations, Military organizations, service organizations, business organizations, etc. Then pitch them locally.
Chances are, you’ve probably got multiple themes going on, whether you’ve written an ebook, a novel, a nonfiction print book or even poetry. The more universal your themes are, the more effective you’ll be at engaging your (local) audience.
As Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Join Toastmasters.
Talking up our books and business at my local Toastmasters was like working out in the gym. In fact, it will tone your speaking and courage muscles to talk up the themes of your book once you decide to speak about it in the big world. The courage to speak is the courage to succeed!
Patricia Fry, the author of Talk Up Your Book, encourages speakers to look for opportunities to build this special kind of muscle. She says to “present your programs in safe zones (friendly territory), among family members, at your local Toastmasters club meeting, before your writer’s group, in front of your fellow business or civic club members. These are good opportunities for you to work the bus out of your presentations.”
One thing you learn in Toastmasters is that it isn’t just an opportunity to practice speaking; it’s also a networking opportunity. You never know who can connect you to a particular group or organization.
You don’t need impressive speaking credentials to get a speaking slot. In fact, it’s easier than you think. And it all starts locally. By creating a memorable experience for your audience, you will up the chances to sell more books.
Speaking engagements are interactive, real and dynamic. Once people connect and engage with you, they have a reason to read what you have to say.