View Full Version : Public Speaking

05-19-2005, 09:24 AM
How many of you have done public speaking? I have noticed that some authors are booked for public speaches and I am wondering how you came to do this? I have been invited to speak to a group of 1st time offenders. That was quite the experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I would love any thoughts or advice. Thank you.

05-20-2005, 06:01 PM
I have done it, and still do it quite a bit, although I think I'm reaching out to a different audience than you are. Mostly, my "public speaking" involves telling ghost stories and trying to scare the crap out of people using my voice. I came about doing this, strangely enough, because my daughter wanted me to come talk to her school about being a professional writer.

The best advice I can give on this subject is to be adaptable to your audience. Use what seems to get their attention. Engage them on a personal level through eye contact. Remember not to talk at them, talk to them.

Just my $.02

05-20-2005, 06:23 PM
I am not a public speaker, but I teach public speaking courses at a nearby community college. I have a theatre background, so they gave me the job, even though it's a totally different thing than theatre.

05-20-2005, 10:55 PM
How have you been able to get your names out for public speakings? Do you have agents or do you do most of the footwork?

05-21-2005, 08:27 AM
I do my own legwork on that one. I basically call local and within-driving-distance libraries, schools, and people like (believe it or not) rotary clubs. I've also sought out writer's groups. Many of them would like to be professional writers, but don't know how to go about getting that first novel published, so in that case I just tell them what steps I took. Also, I started handing out bookmarks (mentioned in another thread) with my contact information on them to the teachers, librarians, etc. It's surprising how many of them network and call me saying "You spoke at so-and-so's school..."

Hidden Helper
05-25-2005, 09:11 PM
This is a topic I'm interested in, too. Last weekend I did a workshop at the Coastal Carolina Writers Retreat and had a really great time. My topic was internet research, and I only had about 12 or so people in my "class" but that was a nice size for someone who doesn't have tons of public speaking experience.

My next "gig" is in July for my local networking group. I'm going to do a presentation on my new book (Write It Right: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros). I'm also going to try to contact local bookstores to do a mini-workshop after the book comes out in the IPG catalog, rather than a book signing.

I hope by doing as many as I can, I'll get more opportunities from word of mouth. I'm also planning to put a page on my website that lists what topics I will speak on and a brief overview. It can't hurt.

I'll look at future responses to this question for more ideas. Thanks!

05-27-2005, 09:03 PM
Ditto, Scott.

Most new authors need to pound the pavement. You can do readings/signings/workshops at

public libraries
school libraries
high school writing classes
public events like folkfests or city fun days
coffee shops
writers groups
book clubs
art/craft fairs

Then go down a list that would apply to your genre, such as
women's groups
sci/fi, anime, gaming, artists etc
retail stores for non-fiction.

Best of luck!

05-30-2005, 06:52 AM
How many of you have done public speaking? I have noticed that some authors are booked for public speaches and I am wondering how you came to do this?

One thing always leads to another. If you do one public appearance—and do it well, someone sees you and tells another group, etc. I have spoken to book clubs, AAUW regional meetings, school groups, 4-H meetings, a quilter's club, a new-comers' club, a historical group, writers' groups—you name it.

One thing that helps is that I write for local publications. People know who I am and know what to expect. Another helpful thing: writers' groups are often called to provide a speaker for a meeting. I am a member of two local writers groups and also the Virginia Writers Club, which maintains a speakers' bureau of its members who want to be listed.

Have some "specialties" that you're qualified to talk about, or a cause you want to promote. Because I was a public school teacher for many years and now teach college English—and because I've won several writing contests, I'm often contacted to do writing improvement workshops. Because I have both sucessfully self-published and POD-published, I can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each type. I also do appearances as a character that I've created. (Sometimes she gets invited to more places than I do!)

One hint: Each time you do a performance/speaking engagement, have someone take a picture of you in action. Send the picture and a press release (that you wrote) to your local paper. Since I write a column for one of the local papers, they're always delighted to mention that their columnist did something. Sometimes they even send a reporter to cover it.

Another hint: I have a home-made brochure that I give to people who ask what I do. It contains my bio, info about my books and where to get them, my web site URLs, a list of what I can do for a group, my contact info, etc. I have a copy shop run off about 20 copies at a time. I continually update this brochure (it's in MS Word on my computer), so I don't like to run many copies at one time. If I'm a guest at a book festival or book fair, I make sure I have copies of the brochure with me.

I primarily promote myself in my immediate area and two surrounding counties. However, this summer I'll be a guest speaker at a writers' group on the coast—about 200 miles from me. (You never know who you might meet.)

Another hint: Have a press kit—a list of questions you're likely to be asked and their answers—on your web site. Up-date this periodically. Program chairmen find this info very helpful when they're trying to set up a program and want to know more about a speaker.

Oh, yeah—everytime someone invites you to speak, always ask, "You don't mind if I have my books for sale at (whatever event), do you?