With all the talk about how to build author platform and promote books on the internet, sometimes good old tried and true speaking to audiences gets forgotten. Indeed, speaking, whether in the form of talks, seminars, workshops, or classes, remains an important platform and promotion element for both aspiring and established authors.
For those aspiring authors wanting to build platform, I often hear the same lament that I gave years ago: “I don’t have a published book yet. Why would anyone hire me to speak? It’s like the chicken before the egg.”
To a certain extent this is true, but it doesn’t matter. You must go out and speak anyway…for anyone who will pay you or who will let you speak for free.
So begin researching even the smallest of venues where you might be able to give a talk on your topic, and then branch out from there. Call or write to program directors offering a pitch that sounds like you’ve got what it takes to offer them a professional talk (You do!), and use your working book title to entice the program directors to hire you. In other words, while you may not be “the author of” a book yet you are the “author of the forthcoming book” now. Use the title of your book in your signature and in everything you send out; you’d be amazed out how well this works.
Also, if you feel you want to have something published prior to asking for speaking gigs, consider self-publishing a short version, or booklet, of your longer as-yet unpublished work. I published several booklets prior to and as I began my speaking career; I then could say I was an “author” and could sell these at the back of the room. This income helped when I spoke for as little as $50 or for free. You can see these here.
Established authors shouldn’t forget to leave home and meet their readers. Book tours aren’t super profitable any more unless you are a very well-known and well-read author, but it’s still worthwhile to arrange some stops at book stores if you’re going to be in the area anyway. Also, arrange a number of classes, seminars, and talks in the largest cities possible throughout the year; additionally, do the same locally. (Coordinate bookstore visits with these trips.) Plus, look for opportunities to speak at conventions or for professional organizations related to the subject of your book.
You can reach many more people via the Internet than you can at a book signing or at a talk, yet there’s something dramatically different about connecting with people face to face than in Cyberspace. No matter what, talks, workshops, seminars, and visits to bookstores should always be part of an aspiring author’s or an established author’s platform-building and book promotion efforts.