Yes, there’s a terrific amount of competition out there meeting anyone who promotes and attempts to direct-sell a self-published book. Forget the fact that a sea of new books hit the market every month. Look at it this way: if you manage to reach a few potential readers every month, that no one else is pitching at the same time, you are likely to convince them that they cannot do without a copy of your book. That, of course, assumes you have an appealing and fully professional volume to present. What better way to communicate your subject matter than appearing before them?…

Instead of spending money with one of the marketing hucksters who promise you lists of available speaking engagements all over the U.S.A., consider your own back yard. It’s an expensive process traveling to distant speaking engagements; every mile in your car costs you a minimum of 40 cents, not to mention time consumed, meals, and the cost of lodging. For those reasons alone, you’ll want to address groups as close to home as possible.

How many people will you be addressing? Probably no more than 50, and often less. After all, most of us are not famous; such turnouts should be considered gratifying. How many of the audience will buy your book when you are done speaking? Ten percent – if you have a novel that really interests them – more, if you have a non-fiction book that realistically outlines a method of health or financial improvement. (Any publisher will tell you that novels are a tougher sell than a non-fiction work. )

Okay, how do you line up the speaking engagement? Well, the easiest way is through a friend. In my own case my first several speaking engagements were suggested by people who knew me well and thought a group they belonged to would enjoy listening to what I might have to say about my self-published novel, 3 ACES.  I don’t really know what they expected to hear, but I do know I have a lot of interesting information to impart about my book – a “relationship” story, with trucking, gambling, and Vietnam as the background – a writing and publishing effort which occupied the better part of 7 years. With my background of professional acting, I was confident I could read my own work to a live audience in a fashion that would pique their interest.

Having lined up several speaking engagements, I pondered how I might present the most compelling parts of the book in the limitations of a one hour presentation. Personally, I don’t like readings that drone on for over an hour, especially if the reader is speaking too fast, trying to cover too much material. My writing is dialogue-heavy and I enjoy doing the character parts, which provide variety and, despite my best efforts to avoid slips of the tongue, some occasional levity.

I try to cover my book in seven or eight selections, each  stressing different characters and plot points. The reading of each section lasts no more than 4 minutes. During a practice reading, I’ll time the selections, reading slowly enough to be understood…two minutes per page. When I have allowed enough time to read slowly enough to be understood, but not so slow as to be monotonous, I know I can relax and enjoy myself. Varying timbre, speed, and volume to match the passage being read is equally important. Keep in mind though, that the tendency for any reader is to proceed too quickly – I can’t stress that enough. You must make an effort to read distinctly and clearly, without rushing.

Another thing I’ve hit on, is to preface each segment being read with a little informal “confession” of what went astray in the writing and was corrected  editorially before publication, or just what ideas gelled that formed a given character, or what kind of research I undertook to get vital information. I’ve become somewhat of a bug on research, so I enjoy spilling the beans on myself in disclosing what I’ve done to fully understand my subject matter.  I try to restrict each pre-reading discussion to four minutes.

Some groups will have meals served at the meeting. In that case you will eat with the group and present later. It’s normal to have some people leave early – they’ve come for the meal only, so don’t take it personally. Even worse, where there is no formal meal, there may be a refreshment table. People will be getting up and down for cake and coffee. You can’t let that rattle you – even when some snack and leave. I like a meeting where there’s no food at all. If anyone walks from that one, you know for sure it was YOU! It’s most gratifying when you discover you’ve held a good-sized audience in their seats for a full hour.

When you finish, don’t forget to thank the audience for coming. Don’t neglect to tell them about your website – www.richardide.com, in my case. Before your talk make sure you have at least five shiny new books piled on a table beside you, with an opened box below. I place my special bookmarks and a few cards alongside for anyone who wants one and close, mentioning a discount for anyone at the presentation who wants to purchase a signed copy of 3 ACES.

That’s it…hope I’ve given you a few ideas for your own presentation.

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