When I became serious about writing, I never thought that my years as a history teacher would have prepared me for book presentations. Paring down exactly what would be appealing to the audience is key. Injecting facts of interest always helps keeps the audience riveted. Once I realized that I only needed to stand up in front of people with a smile and willingness to share my personal writing story, as well as my book, life got easier.
But before a writer can do that, he or she must draw the attention of the people who schedule presenters. When I first marketed my books, after sending out up to a hundred press releases, I only received a few responses for book talks, but now a few directors have sought me out. Lately, I have expanded my areas of press releases. I also used and continue to use social media and have made local connections through this avenue as well. Having a website and blog is a must and keeps your visibility alive. I discovered that even with only a few book talks scheduled, success generates success, and more venues became open to my presentations.
I have three books, which highlight the history of the East End of Long Island, New York, where I live: 101 Glimpses of the North Fork and Islands, The Wampum Exchange, and Captain Henry Green, a whaler. The audiences can be large or small, but the interest is there. That draw helps in encouraging people to buy books. I was booked for several talks about whaling before my third book, which is about Henry Green, was completed. Another form of book income.
Each year, I have about five or more book presentations scheduled in libraries, museums, bookstores, and schools. Many have called me to speak about another one of my books. I realized after the first book talk that it cannot be boring. No droning on and on. So, I took advice from my brother who speaks on financial topics and is sought after. Inject humor and still talk about facts using a Power Point with plenty of pictures. That is exactly what I do. When I hear laughter, I know I am connecting.
Expanding your audience is another way to increase income. Some of my talks are tailored to appeal to children, and adding a craft is most important. A librarian cued me in on that point. Children don’t want to be lectured to, but they do enjoy making a craft. This keeps their attention and has even brought me back for another book talk a year down the road.
Aside from museums and historical venues, I have presented as a bus tour guide in my area and at a cocktail party! Both times, people sought me out because of my visibility and paid me. A welcomed change. These are also ongoing, so the income can be generated year after year. One season, I was hired as a resident historian, in costume, to direct tours of the corn maze on a farm, along with a short book talk, for adults and children in school groups. This is seasonal but another way of gaining book recognition.
Giving book presentations is now enjoyable to me, and it’s a nice stream of secondary income. It takes time to build visibility, using press releases, social media, a website, and a blog, but when you use humor to connect with the audience, your presentation will be a success and open the door to more possibilities.