You’ve traversed the traditional route to publishing or landed somewhere between there and doing it all yourself – now you’ve got a book in your clammy hands. Hopefully the line-up of publicity events and press releases are plenty because you started blathering to the world about this moment long before today. Once you’ve got a decent buzz going you may want to consider speaking gigs for writing groups as another way to cast attention to your latest work.
Writing groups, such as those found on the Missouri Writers’ Guild’s website (and other states, too) will be interested in learning about you and your book if you have a writing issue to share. You may not feel like an expert on any particular writing topic, but getting your book published gave you a ton of experience (no matter how you did it). You know more than you think and other writers are always interested in learning from those that have gone before us. One fine writers group exists over yonder in St. Peters, Missouri. Saturday Writers usually has 40-50 attendees per meeting.
Once you’re vetted by a group and hired, be sure to put the word out about your talk (and book, of course) as much as possible before the day of the event. This may lead to more speaking engagements. You may be asked to provide things such as your bio, jpeg of your book cover, title for your talk with a brief description and a current photo of yourself (please make sure it is a current photo – investing in a professional photo session will go a long way and you’ll find many uses for professional photos.) If you are asked to provide specific these things such as these, it will benefit you to actually send them rather than replying with your website address so the requester must go there and fish for the information they’ve requested. Perhaps you should prepare a file on your computer so sending this information is an easy click for you.
Have someone take photographs of you during the event for your website or blog. You may even be paid for your talk (glory be!). If your goal is selling books and telling folks about your book – avoid charging high amounts for your appearance. The pool of speakers just like you is large and you may not be chosen by a nonprofit organization if money becomes a huge factor. Don’t be afraid to ask for hotel or fuel expenses if you travel very far. You should be allowed to sell your book at the venue where you are talking and that may help with revenue. Also, be sure to bring (and leave) bookmarks and other promotional items.
Many times our speakers read from their books during their talks. Even though the book is your work, and you’ve rewritten it 572 times – there is no guarantee you will be good at reading any of it aloud. No one likes to hear monotone reading, and this will do nothing to entice the group to buy your book. If you sound boring reading it then your audience will think it is a boring book.
- Choose the portion(s) of the book you read carefully. Be sure it pertains to the topic you are teaching. If the group is interested in your lesson, don’t read a passage that has nothing to do with it. Keep their attention, and give enough “backstory” to catch them up before you begin reading, but don’t give away too much plot.
- Know the venue where you are reading. Consider if you should read questionable content or profanity verbatim.
- Before the meeting – rehearse! Read your work out loud, read it in front of a mirror. Be sure you read clearly, with expression and inflection. Use your hands, make faces, use voices and move around as needed. Be entertaining. If the audience sees you are enjoying reading your book, they’ll want to read it for enjoyment also.
- If you are using a mic, try to stay on it and be sure to make eye contact (throughout your entire talk, really)
- Finally, if a Question and Answer session is given during your talk, be sure to repeat the question that is asked of you before you answer it. This is especially important in a large group.
Saturday Writers is a group of about 100 writers that meets monthly in St Peters, Missouri to network and hear a speaker tell about their journey or advice on the craft of writing. We range in age from 18-84 (literally), write in a large variety of genres and our experience ranges from total newbie to well published. Each of us encourages the next person to achieve their writing goals, whatever they may be.
Our next meeting is June 28th and our speaker is Ms. Peggy Archer, a well-known children’s books author. Visitors are always welcome, check out our website for more information: www.saturdaywriters.org.