Then I gave another talk at another library. And then a third library.
Then a Rotary Club called me. A few months later, I found myself the featured speaker at a Shriners dinner. Last month I presented a talk at the National Eagle Center. Birding festivals, book conferences, annual meetings, schools, service organizations–I’ve addressed them all.
Wait a minute. I thought I was a writer, not a speaker.
Guess what? Book authors get to do both!
The fact is, you NEED to do both if you’re going to successfully build your readership and market your writing. That means you should work on your public speaking skills, and the best way to do that is to take every opportunity you find for a speaking engagement. Develop the following five types of speeches, and you’ll be ready for anyone!
The Sound Bite is the one you will use a bazillion times. It’s the one-liner you’ll utter every time someone asks you what your book is about. It’s also one of the hardest to compose because you need to distill your book and its value down to one sentence. My sound bite for my series is “The Birder Murders is a humorous series about a really nice guy who happens to find bodies when he’s out birding.”
The Book Talk is the speech that focuses on your book’s content. If it’s nonfiction, you can give a general review of the topic itself, or focus on just one chapter’s point and why it’s important. If it’s fiction, you discuss characters, their relationships, the plot, how you came up with all of it, what you want to accomplish with it. This works best with audiences who have already read your book because they will have questions about what they’ve learned and/or enjoyed from reading it.
The Business Talk is about your experience with the publishing business of being an author. The changes we’ve seen in publishing, including the growth of e-books and marketing paradigms, is a topic that appeals to audiences composed of business people or future authors.
The Writing Talk is about your own process of writing a book. Do you do research? Conduct interviews? Journal or set word goals? The beauty of a Writing Talk is that it is appropriate for a variety of groups, and depending on the slant you give it for the group you’re addressing, it works equally well as a classroom talk, a keynote address for a gathering of library supporters, an awards speech, a writers conference, a book club… you name it.
The Topic Talk is the newest talk in my own arsenal of speeches. Because my books are about nature, I’ve started giving talks about nature education and conservation issues. If it is mentioned in my books, it’s fair game for a talk and a great way to use extra research.
Here is a great resource to help you to continue to develop your public speaking skills.
What talks could you present for your book? Do you have any ideas for talks that I have not mentioned?