One of the big differences between authors twenty years ago and authors today is public image. Authors used to be able to hide behind their desk, an invisible face with a bestselling book.
Today, an author usually has to create an audience and find a niche. One of the best ways to do this is public speaking. I took a great class on public speaking at the LDS Storymakers Conference, and it really got me excited to seek out these opportunities. I'm going to wait until my book is released, because I don't want to create an interest in a novel that people can't buy right at that moment.
A huge question I had in the class was, "Where do I find speaking opportunities?" We were told to look at community events. Last week we had a visit from the welcome committee in our new house. The lovely lady handed me a pamphlet with a list of community clubs and phone numbers on it. This pamphlet listed about 300 community clubs, and I got goosebumps. Each one of these clubs represents an opportunity for me to speak.
Public speaking can be a lucrative way for you to increase your writer's income, but in the beginning it won't be that way. When you start out making speaking arrangements, neither your book or unknown name are going to be selling points. The selling points will be "local author" and "speak for free." I can't imagine many organizations turning down an opportunity to have a guest speaker for no charge! The phone conversation would go something like this: "Hi, I'm a local author and speaker and would like to speak at one of your group meetings for no charge."
People love local talent. And they love feeling like they are important enough to get offered a free speaking appointment.
Your local chamber of commerce may have a list of community organizations that meet regularly. Or check the newspaper. If you see an annual event that's past, call them and offer to do it next year. Make sure you develop your platform and make them remember you. This is about you. If they remember you, they'll remember your book.
Eventually you'll reach a point where you can safely charge money. I'm not there yet, of course, but I imagine you know this has happened when people begin to call you and ask you to speak. When you have so many speaking appointments over the next few months that you are starting to turn them down. Then there's a demand for you, and you're hot.
Anyone already at this point? Had any really awesome public speaking moments?