For both traditionally published and self-published authors, the best way to hand-sell books is to coordinate book signings with other events: seminars, readings, lectures. But successfully landing a speaking gig takes some preparation. Here are the steps you’ll need to take!
How To Get More Book Signings And Public Speaking Requests To Promote Your Self-Published Book
Identify your best lecture topics. If you’ve written a nonfiction book, focus on giving talks about your subject matter or staging book signings in venues where interested audiences already gather (veteran’s halls, specific clubs, etc). If you’ve written fiction or a memoir, consider what aspects of your book might lend themselves to lectures: local history, politics, social movements, etc. Unlike authors published by traditional publishing houses who may have the benefit of the company’s networking and marketing support, self-published novelists will find it more difficult to book a speaking gig without a unique angle. So, instead of talking about your book, you may have more success if you put together lectures for other writers on marketing, grammar or editing. Then, offer to sell and sign books afterward.
Prepare your website. People who want to know more about you and the lectures you offer will be visiting your author website. Be sure it’s ready for action!
Put together a promo package. When you begin to contact people about scheduling promo opportunities, it’s good to sweeten the pot with an information packet (like a media kit or press kit). Your info packet might include: a free copy of your self-published book; a list of lecture/seminar titles with one-paragraph descriptions about each; a headshot and bio; a page of reviews and press coverage; a press release; an optional gift in thanks for the recipient’s time; clear contact information. Make it easy for people to say YES to the opportunity you’re offering, and you’re more likely to see results.
Ask your personal connections for recommendations. If you’re prepared, you’ve already started networking. Ask your friends, family, and co-workers if they know of any booksellers, librarians, or other organizers who might be interested in hearing from you. And if someone seems especially enthusiastic about helping you, ask that person to send a “heads up” email to their associate to pave the way for your own outreach.
Contact writing groups and associations (and join them when possible). Writers are often interested in learning more about their craft and book marketing techniques (if you’re reading this, you know what we mean!). What expertise can you offer other writers? Prepare your digital list of proposed lectures, author bio, and cover letter; then, send it to the event coordinators of your local writing groups.
Visit booksellers. While it’s tempting to contact booksellers via email, in-person visits can be more effective and help local booksellers put a face to your name. They’ll see that you’re interesting, friendly, witty, sincere, passionate, entertaining, and just plain nice. If you’re lucky, they’ll be interested in helping you out.
Note: Don’t get discouraged if big box bookstores turn you away; many are restricted by corporate policies from helping authors outside of publisher-arranged collaborations.
Visit libraries. As with visits to booksellers, visit libraries with your info package and ask to speak with the person in charge of events.
Visit schools, senior centers, local educational centers, etc. Don’t overlook venues that aren’t normally considered literary havens. Places of worship, community groups, and even online meet-ups often host speakers.
Follow up with a thank-you note. After your visit and the delivery of your information package, consider a handwritten follow-up note. Be sure to thank the recipient for his/her time. And if you’re feeling bold, mention that you’ll call if you don’t hear back in a week or so.
Make the phone call. Keep your call short and sweet. And if the coordinator indicates that he or she doesn’t have room for you in the schedule just now, remain stalwart and friendly. You can always follow up again in six months’ time.
One Last Way To Get More Speaking Gigs
After your event, let your host know that you would love to make yourself available to any of the coordinator’s contacts at other libraries, stores, or organizations. You might even offer your host a few of your handouts or writer business cards to pass along. And, as always, be sure to thank him or her for any referrals!
QUESTION: What’s your BEST tip to pass along to writers for landing a speaking gig?