Invited to Speak but Don’t Know What to Say? Here are Tons of Ideas! – by Laura Lee Perkins, MS

Invited to Speak but Don’t Know What to Say? Here are Tons of Ideas! – by Laura Lee Perkins, MS

“Marketing” is all about getting your name and your product in front of as many people as possible. You can write the greatest piece of literary work in the history of the world but, if nobody reads it, or knows who you are, then it doesn’t benefit anyone. Speaking in front of a group of people can help get your name out there so that interested parties will seek out your work.

But, before you ask, “What will I talk about?” stop and think of what you, as a writer, do best.

Perhaps you craft an outline for every writing project. Can you explain why this works for you? Could you take ideas “from the audience,” and describe how you would approach their topics? Can you think and respond quickly using concise, understandable language?

Do you keep a list of potential writing opportunities in your computer? Are they organized by date, or topic, or monetary reward? Perhaps some are contests, while others might be magazines or publishers. Maybe you have a list of websites that accept articles? How does this information help you expand your writing career?

Have you been through both traditional publishing and self-publishing? Can you compare the two processes both on paper and in front of a group? This is a very hot topic today.

What about your ability to write a really good query letter? How many paragraphs are enough, or too many? Do you bullet important points? If a hard copy is required, do you always use white paper and black ink, or can authors attract more interest using high-quality woven, ivory paper and dark blue ink? Do you use a recommended header format?

Can you put together a two-page project description that wows potential markets? How do you choose what is most important? What format has worked best for you? Do you attempt to make it visually appealing? How? Do you change fonts, use bold, italics, or highlighting?

What has worked to inspire your writing?

How do you devote enough time to your writing? Perhaps you’ve moved through several (or more) years of college, a couple decades of parenting, into mid-life and even beyond. How would you encourage writers to create a schedule that honors their passion to write?

If you belong to a writers’ group, how did it begin and evolve? What does it nourish in you? Can you offer suggestions to writers who long to find this type of support and camaraderie?

Submittable – Most writers will be required to use Submittable to send their work to potential markets. Although it’s easy to navigate, many writers are not using it to full advantage. Explain how it can expand writers’ opportunities.

Are you a person who is brimming with story ideas? Offer a talk on breaking through writers’ block and present concrete tools for expanding one’s imagination.

All of these suggestions are ways to increase your income through offering yourself as a speaker. Every time you appear on a group’s upcoming events’ calendar, you get free marketing. Most groups have a Facebook page, an extensive email list, a website and their events often are posted on their local “community pages” sites. The outreach marketing potential is huge.

Dust off your courage, and promote yourself as an available speaker. Set a flat fee, or offer to split the income 50-50% with the hosting group. That’s a win-win situation for both sides. If you offer a 2-hour session for $25 per person, and 30 people attend, you and the group each glean $375. And you can repeat this same presentation for other groups. It works!


Laura Lee Perkins is a writer, educator and flutist. Author of 11 books and 150+ published articles, she was awarded 5 Artist-in-Residencies, produced 5 CD recordings and collaborated on three audio books. Perkins received 13 grants and placed 3rd in the 80th International Writers’ Digest Awards (Inspirational Category) and the 2017 Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest. Laura Lee Perkins writes from the inspiration of the beautiful Maine coast from May-October and from the stillness of the Arizona desert November-April. Her public lectures and classes draw 5,000 attendees each year in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Arizona.

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At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.

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Spring 2023 24 Hour Short Story Contest