I’ve been speaking professionally for over twenty years and know first-hand the impact it can have on book sales. No matter how digitized a culture we become, there is no substitute for actual human contact, the sacred connection between an author and their audience. How as an author can you harness that power after you’ve given a talk? What steps can you take both on-site at your presentation and afterwards in terms of follow-up? Here are some tips for marketing your book through author speaking.
I’ve accumulated a treasure trove of author speaking tips over the years, some of which may seem like common sense, but when you’re rushing out the door to give an author talk, you may not think about until it’s too late. We'll go from the preliminary to the tactical.
The only way to make meaningful connections with your audience after your talk is to provide them with followup information that tells them how to connect with you later. With that in mind, here are a few items to throw in your bag before you head to your talk:
- a stack of business cards with your phone number, author website info, and email address. If you cultivate important contacts at an author event, especially members of the media, your contact information is vital.
- a printed hand-out with four or five highlights from your talk, the title of your book, and your contact info and author website
- a notebook and pen to record new leads
When you begin your talk, always acknowledge the person who coordinated your speaking, thank them for their hard work, and express your gratitude for this opportunity. Then, take a few moments to personally introduce yourself to the audience. Even if the event host has already introduced you, always share a few things about yourself to warm the crowd.
Marketing Your Book with Author Speaking
- Book Signings and Networking: it’s natural for people to want to chat with the author when they’re getting their book signed. Enjoy this interaction and be in the moment. Some authors make the mistake of rushing through an autographing, barely making eye-contact, because so many people are coming up to them at once; they become overwhelmed. First of all, this is a GOOD problem. Secondly, you got this. Here’s my rule of thumb—if someone in the signing line has a quick question or comment, take the time to listen and respond. If what they’re asking is more complicated, explain that you want to give them your full attention, and ask if they'd mind waiting until you’ve finished the signing, and that you’ll be happy to talk further with them then.
- Sign-Up Sheet: have a sign-up sheet at the autographing and a pen ready. This is one of the ways that grassroots movements are made—authors/speakers going out there and making a difference one heart at a time in one community at a time, accumulating lists of those they’ve inspired, and staying in touch. It’s how I did it in the anti-bullying space as one of its pioneers, and it can work for you too.
- Thank You Notes: I can’t emphasize enough the marketing power of the simple, old-fashioned thank you note. After a talk, send individual thank you notes to the folks involved in making it all come together—the buyer or primary contact, the administrative assistants; the receptionist at the front desk. You might even want to include a personalized copy of your book with some of these notes. Assistants and receptionists are often overlooked and even the smallest gesture of appreciation is meaningful to them. Kindness and gratitude count. Thanking people has a way of magically stimulating word of mouth for your book. And when the next potential buyer wants references, those whom you’ve taken the time to thank will be much more eager to provide those glowing recommendations.
- Catalytic Outreach: Email or call your primary contact after the talk, and ask if there are any other organizations with whom they have a relationship that might be interested in your message. Most buyers, if they were happy with your presentation, are happy to refer other possible speaking opportunities.
One last tip that will have an effect on your book sales from author speaking—sometimes, especially once you start speaking more frequently, the pace can seem frantic. When that happens, stop, breathe, and remind yourself to be a human being, and not just a human doing.