Friday, July 11, 2014

Speak to the Public - Sell More Books!

Are you afraid to speak in public?

I don't know about you, but the idea of speaking to groups, whether large or small, used to affect my stomach in ways I'd rather not share here. Suffice it to say, speaking was not my thing. Besides, I grumbled, I was a writer. I didn't have to speak to the public about my new book to sell any copies.
                
When my first book arrived on the scene in 2002, however, I realized that my thoughts were not realistic. And though my stomach grumbled at the thought of standing before strangers, I realized that once and for all I'd have to break down and do it.

Whatever it took.
                
I spoke to an elementary school, first. I was nervous, fumbled, but finished, and sold a few books afterwards. Later, I visited a high school, and after that, writer's groups, book clubs, even writer's conferences. To say that my stomach wasn't in an almost constant turmoil would, well, not be the truth.

The truth of the matter was that I continued to speak (still do) wherever readers and writers will have me. And you know what? It just doesn't make sense not to.
                
Selling books is a lonely journey, especially if you're checking on Amazon daily to see if someone has managed to buy your book. It's different with speaking engagements, whether that engagement is at a school or a craft fair. People actually see you. They hear you. They may even want to talk to you after your presentation. And there is no other way (that I can think of) that affects readers and writers so directly, connecting them like living tissue to your skeleton, than speaking in front of them.

If you're grossed out by the tissue and skeleton comparison, consider this:

Readers feel inspired to buy books from authors they like, and the only way to like them is to get to know them! Sure, you can get to know an author by reading their blog, reading over or listening to an interview. You can even get to know them better by reading their book, but before that, how will your interest be best sparked?
                
From seeing them and listening to them in real life!
                
Now, I don't know about you, but I still get a little stomach tied whenever I speak in public, and granted, most of my speaking engagements have come because I've decided to become engaged and have actually reached out and asked for them, but I don't quit. I might get a little green, but I don't quit.

And neither should you.

I like to set up my books at the back of the room, but that doesn't mean I don't have a sample copy of each book right by me as I give my presentation. I also use postcards instead of business cards to promote myself why I am speaking, and pass out these little gems whenever occasion arises (and I make sure there are a few occasions).

I make time for questions after my presentation, and am never too busy to talk to a fellow writer.
                
Never.
                
Speaking in public is a little like giving that oral report in grade school. You planned it out (hopefully) by putting together an outline. You made it fun, with many wonderful things to look at as you talked. You didn't read your presentation. You either had it memorized or had little notes on index cards. You always looked into the eyes of your audience. Always, even when you felt like hiding when the bully from the back row was making frog eyes at you.

You did it, all of it, because you had to. Besides, you wanted a good grade, right?

The drift can be large or small, but the longer you wait to
do what you know you need to do, the larger and more
powerful the drift gets
Nothing has really changed except probably the size of the spectators, but hopefully you get my drift. Hopefully this drift is walking past you and telling you that in order to really sell your book you need to speak in public.

Do you hear it?
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