Whether you self-publish a book or use the traditional publishing route, you have to promote it. Speaking engagements are an inexpensive way to increase awareness of you and your book. If you sell a few copies, you get to keep all of the money, as opposed to a bookstore keeping 20–40%. Most authors will telephone, visit, or email libraries first, but here are a few less obvious places to look for author readings or events.
You’d be surprised how many hidden speaking topics are lurking in your book. First, make a list of possible topics that you could discuss, besides your book. Secondly, make a list of groups that you would like to contact.
Check online for the groups you would like to speak to and get their telephone number, email address, and street address. How would they benefit from your presence?
If there is a death in your book, you might want to telephone a grief-counseling group to talk about how the remaining characters coped with the loss. Can you team up with a Funeral Home to do a special presentation?
Contact associations and health organizations if you’ve written a book that contains an underlying health issue of interest to them. Even some church groups will have guest speakers discussing how to detect diseases or prevent them. I know that my church group has had two speakers talk about two different cancers and early detection.
Historical fiction book authors could contact historical or heritage societies about speaking at a future meeting. You may need to keep presentation and questions to half an hour; they may have a meeting after your guest appearance. You could speak about how you researched the book or ask trivia questions about newsworthy events of that time period.
Is there a home show or toddler show coming up that will have a relevant audience? I have been a speaker at several computer shows with a relevant topic. If you want a booth or table, you will have to pay to exhibit, which you can claim as a business expense. If you contact the organizers well in advance, they may be able to schedule an interesting talk. If you’re a children’s book author you might be able to do a Story time to entertain children while their parents look at displays—with a table of books and business cards nearby.
Church groups, like the Catholic Women’s League, might be looking for speakers to encourage attendance by their members. Many organizations have lunch & learn get-togethers or meet once a month.
Book Clubs—especially those that meet at a library—may welcome an author visit. If the library buys several copies, book club members could borrow them and discuss the book.
Public libraries offer a number of author visits and activities, but don’t be surprised if they are booked well in advance.
School libraries try to arrange an author visit at least once a year. Children’s book authors and middle school authors should contact the school library. Well-known authors usually charge a fee for their visit. If parents know soon enough, they may send money to school to purchase a book.
Mom to Mom Sales or Baby Shows often have guest speakers who are speaking on a relevant topic to mothers. There are several mommy groups that meet weekly or monthly that may welcome a guest speaker, if the topic is relevant. Can you include play and activities to make it more interactive and memorable? Coloring pages, mazes, and word searches that are related to the book’s topic entertain children and can be taken home, which provides a second exposure to your book.
Children book authors could contact day cares or preschools for an end of day discussion. Children will not have money to purchase a book but if you have a table set up for 2 or 3 hours at the end of the day, you may see their parents when they pick up their child. Be sure to prepare flyers to be given to parents a week in advance so they’re aware.
You’d be surprised how many hidden speaking topics are in your book. How about you? Have you done an author visit that you can add to the list?
This is an excerpt from Barbara Fanson’s next book Promoting Your Book (or Business). Follow her blog on promotion, design, and selling books: http://fanson.net/blog/