For authors, speaking engagements can be a crucial component of success. They’re a must-have for self-published authors, who can use them to build a network of grassroots connections that can eventually blossom into a large following. So, it’s recommended for self-published writers to take on as many speaking engagements as possible. But speaking engagements don’t usually fall into your lap—you should create them.
Even if you have managed to get your work into bookstores, your title is one of the thousands of books they carry. Online, your title is one among millions.
So, how do you stand out? Well, with ideal presentations.
When you find the right venues for a presentation of your book, you are the expert that readers have come to hear. This results in a deeper connection to you and your book as well as stronger book sales and a loyal following.
Here are some ways for creating speaking engagements that could turbocharge your book sales and elevate your platform:
You should always know what you want to say before you start seeking out the opportunities to say it. Most authors have held at least one book signing that makes them want to give up writing altogether. The sad little table at a bookstore. The one lonely reader who tells you their whole life story and waves goodbye without buying a book.
Presentations, however, can result in greater sales as well as profit, if readers purchase a book directly from you that you’ve ordered at cost. So, stop signing and start speaking. Ask yourself: What is your unique viewpoint on the space- time continuum, on a historic battle, the style or voice you write in?
A great speaker will connect with the audience on a personal level. So, before you call or send emails to inquire about speaking at a conference or an organization, take time to understand your target audience.
The subject matter will largely influence the topic on which you speak. For example, if you wrote a business book, consider sharing a couple of key points from your work to connect with the audience and inspire their business minds.
If you’re writing fiction, share a summary of not only your book but also the story behind it.
You need a robust and targeted audience of readers, not writers. And while book launch presentations can be at bookstores, turnout there can be scant compared to trade organizations.
Just reaching out to an organization about your book is not enough. You need to define the new perspective you bring to the same genre. You need a plan—also written down in the form of a proposal that you can share widely—for the unique presentation you’ve developed. Build a presentation that is authentic to you.
If the public eye freaks you out, share it by inviting others to join the discussion. The advantages of creating a group presentation are two-fold. First, it may be easier to secure a gig. Second, the other panellists draw in potential attendees from their own audience who might not know you yet, and vice
versa. That means new readers for each of you.
If you still have a day job, you need to secure or create events close to home first. Reorganize your list, putting all your local or regional events and opportunities first. Make special note of those that take place when you’re not working. If none exist in your area or when you’re available, this is an opportunity for you to consider creating them.
The presence of an audience at events is a direct result of how much marketing you and the organization can put behind your event, and lead time directly affects marketing. Planning ahead gives you and the coordinators time to put together graphics, social media posts, advertising, and PR for the event. It allows time for attendees to register if the event is ticketed and for you to coordinate food or beverage orders.
So, once you have a publishing date for your current book, and especially if time is limited, reduce your writing hours for the next book and instead devote your time to connecting with readers and building presentations.
Make sure you post events on your website and share them in your newsletter or blog. When you get to presentations, have a sign-up sheet for your newsletter so that interested attendees can follow your journey and hear about other events.
Why do all this in addition to writing?
Ultimately, when done well, sharing the details behind your research or writing can be incredibly rewarding for everyone. Moreover, if you plan on writing more books, what you need is simple—“readers.” Focus your time on connecting to them via presentations, and they’ll come back for more.