If you’re a writer, it’s likely you’ve spent countless hours conceptualizing, writing, and editing your book. You’ve also probably spent as much or more time getting it published.
Now what? Brooke Warner, publisher at She Writes Press, recently spoke at Publishers and Writers San Diego about the value of building an author platform. She shared an analogy that I loved, saying, “Some writers want to hole up as they write, only to emerge after the book is done or published with the expectation that the readers will come. But not working on your author platform while you’re writing is the same as coming out of a cave and hanging a sign up letting people know your book is out. How are people supposed to know you’re there? You need to do more than stick your head out of the cave, wave, and go back in.”
What can you do to assist in the promotion of your book? Beyond hiring a publicist, you’ll also have to be engaged in the process. Here are a few quick tips to help you on your journey to becoming a bestselling writer:
Every story has a beginning. What was yours? Why did you decide to write your book? Spend some time remembering how you got the initial idea and why you were excited about it. When you access that feeling, hold onto it. That’s the emotion and energy you need to convey to any person or audience when you speak about your book. Enthusiasm is contagious and will help boost interest in buying your book.
- Blogging Helps Your Presentations
Start a blog about yourself, writing, and your book. This will help you become more known, especially if you share your posts through social media like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn or other sites. By sharing, you build connection.
Not sure what to write? Think about what you know. People connect through stories, and everyone has a myriad of stories to share. Here are some possible topics:
- What led you to become a writer
- The concept of your book
- When your characters talk to you during the writing process
- How to write and also keep up with other obligations
- The lost manuscript or the hurdles you jumped over to get your book published etc.
When you remember a story, write it down. You can use these stories when speaking about your book. An audience resonates with authentic, heartfelt stories. An added bonus is that telling a story that is meaningful to you will also help combat nervousness.
- Revise and Polish Before Speaking
Before you speak to an individual or group, organize the material you want to discuss. Every talk has a beginning, middle and end, just like a book. For example, you could start with a humorous intro story, move on to describe the excitement of how you came up with your book’s concept and end with another story. When you have a rough draft, read it out loud to see how it sounds. Try it out on family and friends and get their input.
Remember being stuck in a classroom listening to a teacher drone on and on about a subject? Don’t do that. Distill your book’s message down to twenty-five words. Think about ways you can tell just enough about your plot and characters that people will feel compelled to buy and read your story. If you’ve written non-fiction, focus on the most fascinating aspects of your book and give your listeners a taste. If you’re stuck for ideas, read some book blurbs or watch some movie trailers. Consider how they’re used to generate interest and apply it to your book.
- Don’t Memorize Your Presentation
Often, if a speaker forgets something they’ve memorized, they freeze. It’s awkward, both for the speaker and the audience. If you want to use notes, try a bullet point structure. By organizing through bullet points, if you forget what you want to say, you can glance down at your notes and get right back on track. If you’re telling a story that you can relive and connect with, you probably won’t need your notes.
One of the best ways to improve public speaking is to join your local Toastmasters club. It’s $45 for a six month membership and will help train you in a variety of speaking categories. You will learn to answer extemporaneous questions, prepare and deliver 10 basic speeches, and eradicate filler words such as um, er, like or you know. If you need to improve on a faster timeframe, hire a speaking coach.
Prior to speaking, take time to do some deep breathing and voice warm-ups. Visualize your audience hanging on your every word, and the venue selling every copy of your book! Remember, the people who show up are there to support you and want to hear what you have to say.
- Socialize and Network
If you don’t yet have a book signing just for you, that’s okay. Think about attending meetings or other events where people would be interested in hearing about your book. Remember, asking other people themselves is a great way to connect. Ask if they like to read and, if you think your book is a fit, give them one quick line about it. If they seem interested, hand them a card or flyer with where to purchase your book. Think about places that might need a speaker on your book’s topic and offer to give a free talk. Have copies of your book on hand for purchase. Be creative and get the word out.
Get out of your cave and become engaged! Building an author platform will help you on the road to becoming a bestselling writer.