How to Land Speaking Gigs to Sell More Books! By Bill Vossler

How to Land Speaking Gigs to Sell More Books! By Bill Vossler

If you’re a published writer, you can make money doing presentations about your works. Especially your books! Over the past dozen years, I’ve done at least thirty presentations. On what topics? Almost anything. Mine have ranged from Burma-Shave, Orphan Tractors, Writing Essays, Writing Better, Nature’s Way, Days of Wonder (my recently-published memoir), and others.

You not only get up to $150 for the usually-one-hour presentation (including questions,) but you can also sell your books afterward. I always sell at least eight books per presentation and, since most are self-published, that‘s another $60 or more profit for me. Not a bad night’s work!

–Present to whom? Retirement centers, teacher’s groups, churches, Unitarian Fellowships, history centers, groups like Delta Kappa Gamma, and the Lions–almost any group you can imagine.

–How do you find them? Through groups you belong to, talking to friends, searching online, checking newspapers, and going to church offices. Always be considering possibilities.

–How go about it? Choose the book you want to talk about, and write a 100-200 word summary. Title it clearly and simple like Burma-Shave: The Rhymes, The Signs, The Times. Or, use a title that creates curiosity like Days of Wonder: Golden Times of the Past.

–Contact organizations. In person, by email, snail mail, telephone, text, or other media. Any way you can. Send your summary to those that seem interested. Or, send it out cold. That has worked for me. If they express interest, ask them how much they pay speakers. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!

–Create your presentation. For me, writing my presentation out word-for-word creates a much stronger program than a list of items to talk about. Thus, I can also exhibit my dramatic and writing skills, as in “The first time my father died…” or “In the creeping darkness, the prairie croakers and crickets serenaded Julius’ death, their soft songs sifting through the screens.” Dramatic or picturesque writing leads the audience to think more highly of my books–and then buy them.

–Make an on-screen display. Add photos, pages, poems, illustrations, whatever adds to your presentation. The Open Office program is free, and their “Presentation” (like Power Point,) is wonderful, and easy to use.

–Practice. Print your presentation, and read it aloud to become familiar with it, and see how some of your sentences can be said most powerfully. Identify in your text where to change to the next visual piece. I use the word SLIDE. Practice reading aloud and changing visuals to make sure everything works. Time your presentation within your group’s time limits.

–Contact the organization a few days ahead of time to make sure you’re all on the same page of the topic, date, time, and place, as well as materials needed: screen, projector, HDMI cord, extension cord, etc.

–Prepare a box of books to sell, including listing how many of each (for your own edification,) a thumb or other external drive with duplicates of your Power Point and  your presentation, in case something goes wrong. Include an envelope of cash to make change, business cards, and price labels for on the table, so people don’t have to ask you how much, and whatever else you might need. If you accept credit cards (always recommended!), don’t forget your device for doing that.

–Present, and sell. I always lower prices $2 a book at my presentations, and tell the audience they’re getting the books for a reduced price because they attended my presentation.

–Set up more presentations on different books–or even on trips you’ve taken. I’ve done Buried Alive: Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Akrotiri (AKA Atlantis), for example. You can also speak about jobs or experiences you’ve had, as with my Living With the Lakota: Navigating a Second Culture. Even if your books are unrelated to your speech, some members of the audience will still want to purchase some of your books.

Doing presentations offers advantages…besides the financial ones. Your get to talk about what you love most in life–writing–as many people view writing and writers as esoteric, and don‘t know how the process works. And, you get your name out and you get to meet people.

You can also resell your presentations to different groups. And, doing presentations, you’ll find, is fun!


Days of Wonder: A Memoir of Growing Up by Bill Vossler

Bill Vossler has published more than 3,400 articles in 212 magazines, as well as 16 books. He is a columnist for the St. Cloud Times Life section, won an award for “Best Photo” from N. D. REC magazine, sells photos in, shows four new photos per day on his web page, is working on his memoir, tentatively titled Stories from the Silent Streets,and speaks to groups about his unusual growing-up days, with topics like, “Lessons in Ethical Living,” “The Morality of Writing,” “Childhood Terrain,” “Demons of the Fall,” and others. His only regret in life is that his cat, Anjo, will still not sit on his lap.



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