Sell More Books by Speaking and Making Presentations

Christopher Witt —  March 4, 2015
Chris Witt Speaking to the UK Speechwriters Guild

Chris Witt Speaking to the UK Speechwriters Guild

Ask any author.

One of the hardest parts of being an author is selling your book.

Yes, writing it was taxing and time consuming. But selling it can be even more challenging.

Selling your book means bringing it to people’s attention, making them interested in it, and finally moving them to buy it.

Other people—with some prompting on your part—will make your book available. They may even take people’s money in exchange (and give you a percentage of their take). But they won’t publicize it and they won’t market it, unless you give them a lot—and I mean a lot—of money. They won’t make people want to buy it. They won’t, in short, sell your book.

That’s your job.

There are many ways to make people aware of your book, to make them want it, refer it to others, and buy it.

Here are some of the most effective strategies:

  • Create a website for your book.
  • Write a blog and post material from you book on it.
  • Contribute to other people’s blogs.
  • Participate in one or more online communities.
  • Use social networking tools—Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
  • Publish a newsletter.
  • Create and share podcasts and videos that highlight ideas from your book.
  • Publish articles in print and online with a byline that mentions your book.
  • Host webinars and teleseminars.
  • Give speeches and presentations.

The best strategy, of course, is to use as many different strategies as possible.

As an author and a speaker, I’m a fan of speaking to promote your book.

Speaking and giving presentations can be a lot of work. And, for most people, it’s anxiety-provoking. So why bother? For three reasons.

Reason #1 to Speak in Order to Sell Books: It’s cheap.

In many cases, giving a speech or presentation is free. Sometimes, you’ll even get paid for doing it. Yes, you have to invest the time and energy into preparing your speech. (Don’t underestimate that investment.) And you’ll want to do your own promotion. But that’s about it.

Most of the time, you’ll be speaking at events sponsored and promoted by other people or organizations. And there are no costs involved. If you do it right, you can reuse, recycle, or repurpose your speech so your initial investment in time and energy will more than pay off.

(Unless you have a sizable following, I recommend against producing your own live event. Doing so involves renting a venue, promoting the event, registering attendees, etc. It’s a royal pain, and it can be a huge financial risk.)

You can give webinars or teleconferences as a way of putting yourself (and your book) in front of people you might otherwise never reach. You can be a guest on someone else’s program, which means you won’t have to pay anything. Or you can produce your own virtual event. Producing a virtual presentation, unlike putting on a real (non-virtual?) one costs very little.

Reason #2 to Speak in Order to Sell Books: It’s effective.

Speaking gives you a chance—anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour—to interest people in your book. You won’t be giving an infomercial about it, mind you, because that would only turn people off. But you will talk about issues and ideas your book addresses. And since you’ll do so in such an interesting way, people will want to know more.

And how will they learn more? By buying your book, of course.

Reason #3 to Speak in Order to Sell Books: It’s fun.

Some people say they’d rather die than give a speech. Which is kind of silly, when you think about it.

If public speaking scares you so much, you’re doing something wrong. It’s not your fault. You’ve probably had a bad experience that still haunts you. Or you’ve received bad advice. Or you haven’t had enough experience to get good at it.

With a little bit of help and practice you can become a good-enough speaker.

And once you get good at speaking in front of others, you’ll love it. What’s not to like about talking to people about something that is near and dear to you?

What’s your experience publicizing your book(s)? What would you add to my list of suggestions? What questions or insights do you have?

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.