Guest Author: P.I. Barrington
There are lots of ways to market books. Getting reviews, doing blog tours, posting guest blogs, even radio interviews are priceless in marketing your book and I mean that as a double entendre’: they are usually free and you get sometimes huge audience exposure! But there is another mode of marketing that the most seasoned authors know about and regularly partake in: speaking events. It’s slightly akin to rock (or other) bands going on tour to support their new release. Only, you’re not speaking every single night until you’re hoarse and disoriented; often you’ll overhead a singer say sotto or not so sotto voce: “What city are we in?” to fellow band members after 11 months on the road.
But the essence is the same. You’ve got a new book (or books) to promote and speaking in person can be good for your book and for you as well! Speaking events usually have a theme or topic and almost always include a question and answer period. People are there for several reasons, the first and foremost because they are writing as you do and love to get tips, ideas, instructions on how to do it. Second, they are fans or potential fans of yours and third, are interested in the writing profession in a general sense.
If you’re thinking of speaking publicly, here are some tips and ideas to help you along:
1. You are generally regarded as an expert or at least experienced so think of your event as a teaching opportunity. Use excerpts from your book to illustrate your subject or topic—as an example. You might read an excerpt that is an example of your topic say dialogue or setting so that the audience has a clear idea of what message and comprehension you’re trying to send.
2. You can join another author or several authors for a panel session. This is both easy and lessens the stress you might experience on your own. A panel can keep the rhythm of the discussion going and eliminate long stretches of silence and it can cover subjects that you may not have thought of when preparing for your talk. You can also divide the topic points between the panel members to keep the talk and information organized and comprehensive.
3. Give real information. People are coming out to hear you so make sure you’re giving them something worthwhile. Tips like “Opening your novel/chapter with dialogue” may be a trigger point for an author who is undecided on exactly how to open the first page. Strike a balance between too much and too little information and make sure all of it is useful.
4. Handouts. Some people use them others do not. You can use them as outlines for your list of topics for the audience to follow along and or prepare questions for you; you can include the excerpt(s) from your book to illustrate examples; or you can come off the wall a little with a quiz or questionnaire for the audience to encourage them to engage in the discussion.
5. Research! No matter how confident you are in your subject, it’s always advisable to do some research if only to double check for updates or confirm what you already know. Researching your information can also give you ideas for additional topics or bring up points you may have forgotten to include—and—gasp!—may include new information that must be included! Don’t wait to be embarrassed by a question you should know how to answer!
There you have it—my five biggest tips for using speaking events to market your work. This list is in no way comprehensive and you may come up with some tips or creative methods yourself. Speaking in public is almost always a little nerve-wracking unless you’ve done every night for a year and a half like those rock bands I mentioned. Just make sure you don’t ask. “What city are we in?”
After a detour through the entertainment industry, P.I. Barrington has returned to her roots as a fiction author. Among her careers she counts journalism and radio air talent. She lives in Southern California where she watches the (semi-wild) horses grazing in the hills behind her house. She can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and loves to hear from readers. Her website: thewordmistresses.com and you can check out her new column, Mental Mondays at Paranormal Wire.
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