If the title of this post makes your palms sweat, you’re not alone. Public speaking is often cited as people’s top fear, even over death. But if you calm your racing heart long enough to open your mind, you’ll see a world of opportunity awaiting writers who are willing to step out from behind their computer screens and speak about their work.
Have you ever seen an artist perform live only to discover a newfound respect for that person and a heightened sense of admiration for their work? When an author delivers a well-crafted speech to the right audience, it can have a similar effect on potential readers. Hearing you speak not only helps readers connect your face and personality to the name on your book cover but also gives them the opportunity to behold your passion for your novel’s subject matter, which can translate to book sales, valuable word-of-mouth marketing, and a following of super fans clamoring for your next book.
So, where does one find such speaking opportunities? And how do you compete against the pros who have been doing this for years? Opportunities abound when you seek out targeted speaking engagements with specific audiences that are most likely to connect with you, your message, and your novel. Today, I share how to find those unique speaking opportunities and what to do once you have.
Step 1: Determine who you want to reach.
To reach the right people with the right message, you need to know exactly who you’re targeting. Obviously, you want to speak to audiences full of potential readers and book buyers. Depending on your book, the reader and buyer may be the same person, or they may be different people. For example, my new children’s book, High Flyers: Rookie of the Year, is for readers ages 7-10, but buyers are likely to be parents, relatives, teachers, and librarians. Just as you might create profiles for your characters, similar summaries can help you clarify who your audience is and understand their behavior patterns, which is invaluable when determining where to find them and what to say once you do.
When creating an audience profile, consider not only demographics (“who” you’re trying to reach) but also psychographics (“why” they buy) and geographics (“where” to find them). Be as specific as possible; the narrower the definition, the easier it is to find the right speaking opportunities. The list below will get you started, but feel free to add characteristics that are relevant to your particular audience(s).
- Education level
If your novel has more than one target audience, create a separate profile for each segment, because they’ll likely have unique traits that influence their behaviors.
Step 2: Identify your “sweet spot.”
With the aid of online resources and the proliferation of online groups and communities, finding speaking opportunities has never been easier. Once you’ve determined who you want to talk to, you can use clues from the profiles you’ve developed to find the intersection between your target audience’s interests and your novel’s subject matter. I think of this as the “sweet spot” because the speaking opportunities tend to be more plentiful and the competition less intense than with more-generalized prospects. [Read more…]