Monday, February 06, 2012

Speaking to Promote

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!


Laura Marcella said...

I definitely get the advantage of public speaking. But it's not something I ever do unless I have to (like for a grade in class!). I sure do admire those who can speak in public with no problem!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Still not my favorite thing to do!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

This promoting issue is new to me and to be honest is finding it difficult. Will have to try harder after my vacation.


Southpaw said...

Gulp. I took a few public speaking classes a long time ago. It was good, but it didn't make it any less scary.:)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I've made my peace with public speaking, but it's not my forte. I talk about social media and writing well...I'm less comfortable discussion my book in-depth.

Johanna Garth said...

Really, we have to come out of hiding!?!

Well, okay. I'll think about it. Baby steps, right.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Southpaw, that's why you just have to keep doing it.

Elizabeth, I'm not good at discussing my books, either.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Good post Diane! I've been toying with doing public speaking again, although I'm not a published fiction author.

Have a great week!

Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

Arlee Bird said...

Public speaking is one of the best opportunities for direct marketing. Establishing connection between author and audience can make wanting a book more desirable since now the potential reader can say "I've met this author in person".
For the speaker, maybe some sales training would also be helpful since direct sales is not always the easiest thing for all of us to do with finesse.

Wrote By Rote
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Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've only just discovered how true this is. I find myself surprisingly comfortable in front of groups and really enjoy it.

DL Hammons said...

As introverted as I am, I have no problem speaking in public if I know a great deal about the subject matter. My own book would definitely qualify...and I could even talk about the writing process if I ever realize the validation. :)

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