Saturday, 2 April 2016

6 Tips on Giving Book Talks


At some point in your literary career, you may well be asked to give a talk about your books. If you are a children's writer, it is expected that you will tour schools doing just that. Even if you are 'just' an ebook author/blogger you could still find yourself clobbered for a local festival/writing panel. It can be fun; it can be nerve-wracking. Most of how it will be depends upon your pre-prep. In this series of blogs, I'm going to share my tips from 10 years of public speaking (Including gigs at the Edinburgh and Cheltenham Literary Festivals). Look upon any invitation to speak as a selling opportunity. You may shift as many as 80 books in one session. You are unlikely to do that via Amazon/bookshops. And you could get spin-off invites.

Tips on Pre-Preparation

1. Check how long you are 'on'. It is usually an hour. Break that down into: 25 mins speaking, 15 mins questions, 20 mins book signing and informal chat.

2. Check whether you are going to be paid. The rule of thumb is if people pay to come in, you should receive at least 1/3rd of the 'door'.

Cheltenham Literary Festival 2007
3. Make sure you let the venue know exactly what you will need on the day: table for your stuff,  another table for your books, a chair. I keep it very simple. Try not to bring loads of technical equipment. People really react better to just you and your voice.

4. Check who is responsible for the publicity. If it is a Festival, it is up to them to publicize you (see header pic). Make sure you supply organisers with your bio, title of session, mention of signed books being available to purchase (you want to sell, right?) and an up to date picture. Please. I've been to talks where the writer used a MUCH younger pic for their publicity. C'mon people!

5. Offer to contact local press with an interesting press release. This is often a winner if the organisers are too busy or have far more famous writers than you to focus on.

6. Stock up with business cards and copies of your books. Make sure you have at least 2 pens that work.

Next week we shall look at how to prepare a talk and how to captivate your audience by your stunning delivery!

10 comments:

  1. Useful stuff for anyone talking on anthing, Carol. I used to do lectures at conferences (in my former incarnation) and got used to nmaking sure I could look after myself if the organisers were having a hissy fit about something else.

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    1. Always be prepared to take as much publicity on yourself! Or check they ARE doing it! This applies to schools..who can 'forget' to send out letters to parents, so kids come with no money for books. NEVER rely on organisers - work with them as much as you can, keeping them in the loop as to what you are doing.

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  2. Useful stuff, Carol.mI'll be doing one of these next month, so will take notes from your blog posts!

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  3. Awesome Milady, thank you. Impressed as usual. Btw the lady in the picture is that a pre little G you ?

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    1. That is me, aged whatever I was in 2007...

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  4. Thanks for this Carol! Sister and I are just starting off on this road (published by HarperCollins in June) and frankly, we're terrified. All guidance on how to do this publicity stuff VERY gratefully received!

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    1. Welcome! Next week: how to write talk,practice talk & some advice on presentation. Then we'll look at Q&A and sellings/signings.....

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  5. This article is really useful, Carol. I've been on the Committee of our local Writers' Group and many local authors come to talk to us about their work.... Often it feels like they have not thought about it until they walk into the room....

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    1. That is the other side of it, sadly. Also writers HAVE to give talks etc to publicize their books ( some publishers insist upon it) when the very essence of being a writer is to shun the general public like the plague!

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  6. Thank you, Carol. I haven't got anywhere near this stage yet (have to get the book published first!) but will keep it handy just in case.

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