The Best Way to Get a Speaking Gig as an Author

From making important contacts to higher brand visibility and beyond, you’ll be surprised at the opportunities you can cultivate from guest speaking gigs.

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There’s a lot more to being a self-published author than just writing a book. To be a successful author, you need to build a strong brand using multiple marketing channels.

Your brand as a self-published author refers to how you present yourself and relate to your audience. It encompasses everything from your writing voice and genre to your logo and website layout.

Building a brand as an author requires playing a lot of different roles…a marketer, a networker, an educator...the list goes on. But with these added responsibilities come added opportunities.

One of the opportunities many self-published authors look forward to the most is the chance to be a guest speaker for an event that aligns with their work.

The Benefits of Speaking Gigs for Self-Published Authors

Booking gigs as a guest speaker has more perks than just a boost in income. 

Becoming a guest speaker for events relevant to you and your work can help boost your career in more ways than one. From making important contacts to higher brand visibility and beyond, you’ll be surprised at the opportunities you can cultivate from guest speaking gigs.

It Can Help You Meet Future Collaborators

As a self-published author, you never know what kinds of contacts you’ll need in the future. 

Perhaps it’s a book store owner who can help put your work on their shelves, or another guest speaker who can help get you your own speaking spot at a future event. Maybe you need a literary agent who specializes in your niche, or even someone who can help you book your next tour.

As a guest speaker, you can put yourself in front of people who share the same interests and passions, and who are oftentimes looking for ways to connect in order to boost their business, or simply help support a new author.

You Can Turn it Into Marketing Content

When it comes to digital marketing, quality content is gold. But if your main form of content is your book, how do you make it useful in multiple ways — without giving away the whole thing?

This is where speaking gigs come in. A video of one public speaking gig can get you multiple clips, quotes, and even some referrals for more gigs. 

It Establishes You as an Influencer

Influencers, or subject matter experts, are referred to for industry advice and education. Being sought out as an educator in your field helps you establish authentic relationships with readers, while cultivating opportunities for more speaking gigs. 

5 Steps for Authors to Become Public Speakers

Once you’ve written and self-published your book, you’re ready to take the steps toward becoming a public speaker. While these steps may take time, they tend to get easier the more you practice. And chances are, the rush of your first gig is bound to act as fuel to keep you going!

Step 1: Review Your Niche

Chances are, if you’ve written a book, you already have a good insight on your book’s niche — aka, who your target audience is.

Your target audience should be readers whose needs are met by your book — whether that be educational, emotional, or general interest.

To gain speaking gigs, you’ll want to take this thinking a step further and imagine what kinds of events your target audience would attend. To help you decide, ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Which businesses or organizations might they be affiliated with?
  2. What are some events put on by these organizations?
  3. Are they more likely to attend events online, or do they enjoy in-person encounters?
  4. What venues might they regular?
  5. What events are these venues putting on?

Make a list of the organizations, topics, and places you come up with. From there, you can dig deeper and find contacts to events you might be a good fit for.

Step 2: Make Sure You Have an Online Presence

It’s 2020 — resumes for things like speaking gigs are a thing of the past.

In the digital era, event bookers want to see your real-time relationships with readers, potential readers, and collaborators. They do so by checking your online presence — mainly, your website and social media.

Before applying for speaking gigs, make sure you have somewhere they can look to get a better idea of your experience, voice, and success with your niche audience.

Typically, that means you’ll need a social media strategy that helps not only grow your audience, but helps get them to engage. You should have 2-3 social media platforms where you think people from your niche tend to linger.

From there, choose content that would intrigue the people who could hire you for a speaking gig…educational quotes from your books, Q&A’s with your audience...the possibilities are endless!

Make sure your website has places to interact with fans and future fans: forums, advice columns, chat functions, contests, etc. The more opportunity for public interaction, the better.

Your online presence can also choose ad campaigns. When it comes to being a public speaker, oftentimes “faking it ‘til you make it” pays off.

Stage yourself as a public speaker with an ad on any and all social media platforms targeted toward people who might be seeking one that includes striking yet clean visuals, the main points you cover and a way to contact you.

Step 3: Create a Press Kit

A press kit is a strategic collection of digital materials about you and your book. Your press kit can help you get featured in articles or audio interviews, building your reputation as a public figure and getting you booked for more gigs.

Your press kit should include:

  • A review copy or sample of your book
  • A 1-2 paragraph bio including a professional photo
  • A press release that provides an in-depth summary of your book
  • As an optional bonus, you can include branded gifts like bookmarks with your book cover on them

Send your press kit out only to reporters and radio shows that fit into your niche. This will save your time and the time of the people you’re pitching to, which is bound to earn you points.

Step 4: Start Small

Let’s face it: chances are, you won’t be the guest speaker for a New York Times event right off the bat. And that’s okay! 

Establishing yourself locally has plenty of benefits, like giving you the ability to find fans and collaborate right in your backyard.

When pitching yourself as a guest speaker, you’ll want to start small and start local. Send your press kits and info out to local event coordinators, or pitch yourself as a guest on small podcasts that are just getting established. 

Not only will this help you develop content and clout for bigger gigs, but you’ll be found on multiple websites when people seeking guest speakers search for you.

Step 5: Collaborate with Other Authors

If you’re new to the game, reach out to authors in your niche who have been at it for a while. Keep an eye out for panels and other group discussions where fans of the other speakers might be fans of you as well.

You can even build and host your own panel on a Zoom meeting or live on your website where your audience members have the opportunity to enjoy education and interaction. They’ll appreciate you for it!

Building relationships is both the key to and the reward for getting public speaking gigs.

By doing speaking gigs, you have the opportunity to share your knowledge with people outside your circle. This expansion of your network can take your career as a self-published author to great heights.

To get speaking gigs, you need to make sure your brand is clear and you’ve developed trust with those who already know about you and your work. The very first step in ensuring your author brand is polished and professional is making sure your book is.

Need some help touching things up? Try out our consulting services >

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

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