Public speaking can be an author’s greatest marketing tool. It opens up unique promotional opportunities. It can supplement the author’s income. It sells books! And in today’s market, authors need to employ every possible angle.
At its most basic, speaking places the author in front of real human beings. The lure of the Internet has prompted more and more authors to remain hidden behind a website. While blogs and social sites provide a certain measure of interaction, it cannot replace real-world contact and physical appearances. Readers like to know about the creator behind the book, and meeting an author in person provides a human quality that is lacking online.
Not every writer is destined to be a professional speaker, but learning the craft is vital. For the introverted author too nervous to speak in front of two people, let alone a crowd, training is required. A media coach teaches poise and confidence. An organization such as Toastmasters offers critique sessions in a secure environment. Public speaking courses are available at almost every college. There are ample opportunities to train and prepare for public speaking.
Remember, there is power in the spoken word! Now, how do we use that power?
At the very least, every author should be able to discuss his own book. This will be required for signings, book readings, and library appearances. Book clubs and writer’s groups are also open to the author. These opportunities provide more than just a personal touch, as promotional materials distributed by the author can influence later sales.
However, magic happens when an author moves beyond his book and develops a platform around his area of expertise. This should be a natural transition for the non-fiction writer. His education, skills, and experience led to the book’s creation, and he can build a platform around this very knowledge. This doesn’t preclude the fiction writer, though. Every book requires research, and a level of expertise is required to write fiction as well. Regardless of genre, all authors possess the ability to develop a platform and message.
The author who markets himself as a speaker gains several advantages. Professional speakers usually receive payment for their services. Speaking engagements can supplement royalties (which are rarely enough to live on) and the income from day jobs. These events often allow for back of room sales, netting additional income. An author with a platform is also more appealing to the media, as they want experts who can inform and entertain. The author who delivers what the media seeks and desires gains exposure to a far greater audience.
The list of venues for speakers is endless: libraries; businesses; schools; churches; colleges; writer and book festivals; organizations; clubs; conferences; etc. All of these provide an opportunity to reach a wider audience and generate greater books sales. Once established as a professional speaker, the author’s reputation will drive the sales of future books as well, thus laying the groundwork for a long career!