Having a book is one of the best ways to land yourself the speaking engagements you dream of, whether on or offline. When event organisers are considering speakers for events, your book will help you stand out from the crowd. Not only that, speakers with books always get paid more to speak – sometimes by twice as much.
But enough of the theory, you want to know how it works in practice. I’ve consulted a selection of successful speakers who all use their books to get profitable speaking engagements on a regular basis. They’re sharing what they’ve learned from their mistakes – so you don’t have to.
Here are their insider tips, plus a few more of my own.
Write your book with speaking in mind
Put yourself in the shoes of a speaker booker – the person you want to hire you for their next event. What would they want in a speaker?
It’s someone who’s engaging on stage, has authority and expertise in their area, has a tight topic that works well in a talk, and is willing to stand out with a fresh angle on that topic.
So how does your book help with all of that?
Here’s how. You need a clear and tightly focused topic for your book, aimed at an audience who are desperate to know more about it. This audience also needs to be made up of the people you would like to speak for, and who can afford to pay you (if being paid is important).
Speaker Rebecca Jones, who works with organisations to make their staff more enterprising, is currently writing her second book with speaking potential very much in mind. Her first book, although successful, wasn’t structured around gaining speaking engagements. In her second one she’s cleverly organising it so each chapter could be a talk in its own right, which will make it super easy for her to promote it to events organisers.
Your audience, your topic, your book and your keynote all need to line up. Think of them as ducks in a row, with the mother duck as the speaker booker, your audience tagging along with them, and the rest following on behind. Who might want to book someone like you to speak to them? What audiences could you get in front of? And then, what topics would work well for you as a speaker?
Once you’ve decided that, create your book around this knowledge. That’s the way to have a book that’s irresistible for an event organiser.
Create a book to impress
Don’t worry about giving away your secret sauce – be generous and splash it all over your book.
A transformational book that gives people the answers they really want will always be more likely to get the attention of your audience than one which holds back. Even if people have read the best of what you have to offer, they will still want to hear you speak about it. Simply reading is never the same as listening and experiencing you in person.
It goes without saying you’ll need print copies of your book, partly to promote yourself as a speaker (more on that below), but also to sell at your speaking gigs. That means it must look professional, with a properly designed cover and internal layout. Don’t get it done in the cheap – low cost book equals low cost speaker. And that’s not you, right?
As expert author and speaker Karen Williams says, a clutch of endorsements on your back cover or at the front of the book can also be a huge help. They position you as a respected expert, and that can only help you gain the speaking opportunities you desire.
Sell your speaking in your book
I know what you’re dreaming: an event organiser comes across your book, reads it, and loves it. ‘This author would be just right for my next event,’ they say to themselves, ‘I wonder if they speak?’ Without delay they rush to your website to find out more about you, and hire you on the spot.
This never happens.
You need to work at promoting yourself as a speaker within your book, so if the day comes when someone reads it and wants to know more, they know exactly where to go.
In your About the Author section, talk about your speaking experience and make it clear where the reader can find out more. Don’t make it hard for someone to book you – tell them you’d love to talk at their next event.
And while you’re about it, sprinkle opportunities for readers to sign up to your email list throughout your book. Creating tempting support materials on your website which readers can access in exchange for their address, will generate a list of interested prospects to keep in touch with. Among those people may be people who might recommend you for a speaking engagement, or even book you themselves.
Start hustling before you publish
I’ll tell you a secret. You don’t need to wait until you’ve published your book before you start using it to get speaking gigs. Really.
Add ‘forthcoming author of’ to your social media profiles, keep your email list updated with your progress, ask for input on titles from your social media following, start building relationships with event organisers – all this allows you to build your profile well before your book is done.
An author who’s already working on their book is still more valuable to a speaker booker than one who hasn’t even started. It shows you’re serious about your subject.
Think like an author in your marketing
As successful speaker Heather Townsend, author of The Go To Expert says, it’s a myth that writing a book is all it takes to get great speaking engagements. You need to work at it! Here are some of her top tips.
Whenever you’re marketing yourself as a speaker, always be thinking about how you can bring your book into the picture. Nothing says ‘author and speaker’ better than footage that incorporates you both speaking and showing your book. Does your speaker showreel feature your book? If not, next time you get the chance to be filmed doing a talk make sure you hold your book up to the audience, get some footage and insert it into the reel.
How about being interviewed on your book topic and creating a series of You Tube videos out of it?
Even better, film your book launch party and insert some clips of you signing your book into your showreel.
By using these techniques, you’re building your book into the marketing you’re already using for your speaking career. Clever, huh?
Use your book like a business card
Make a list of everyone you want to get in front of, and split it into two: one for people who might book you direct (such as events organisers and speaker agents) and one for those who have an influence on them (such as people in your realm with a large following who can help you generate a buzz about your book). Don’t forget past and present clients, and people you’ve spoken for in the past – remember, you’ll be much more attractive to them now you’re an author.
When you get a booking enquiry (wahay!) send them a copy of your book. A great tip from Heather is to pop a post-it note on the front cover suggesting the most relevant chapter for them to look at, given the topic of the talk they’re suggesting. A few pounds or dollars spent on sending a free copy of your book could generate thousands in booking fees, especially when you consider the possibility of repeat bookings.
What’s more, as author and productivity speaker Grace Marshall points out, reading your book gives your enquirer a great feel for your tone of voice and approach. They’ve got to know, like and trust you before you’ve even met.
So you can see getting lucrative speaking engagements from your book is as much about how you write the book as it is about what you do once it’s written. Make it easy for yourself by writing the right book in the right way, and you’re all set.
With the right strategies in place, you can gain gig after gig while your non-author competitors languish far behind.
Just imagine getting that call from your dream event – they want you to talk to an audience of hundreds or even thousands. How amazing would that be? And by using these insider secrets, this really could be you.
Which proven tip will you focus on first?