You have something important to say or you wouldn’t be a writer. Whether you write novels to entertain or non-fiction to enlighten, your words have the power to change lives. And the more books you sell, the more scope you have for changing lives.
Although the majority of writers feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts at the keyboard, public speaking can help your writing career flourish and lead to increased sales. Just as you improved your writing skills, you can learn and grow in public speaking skills until you’re comfortable in front of a crowd.
I don’t consider myself an accomplished public speaker, but I love people and I love words. I take every opportunity to speak at a myriad of venues—civic clubs, church groups, even nursing homes. I ask God what each audience needs to hear, and pray that the exact people he wants to attend will be present to hear my message.
I may speak to a Rotary Club about the culture shock of moving from Los Angeles to rural Illinois or tell a group of senior citizens in wheelchairs that God still has a use for them. If I speak to a church group, I gear my message to a Christian audience.
I try to be transparent during my message to make people laugh or to help them relate to my foibles. I focus on how I can help them enhance their lives.
And I always read at least one chapter from one of my books.
I don’t make a huge commercial out of that aspect of my talk; I simply shine a light on my writing. After my message, I sell books at an artfully decorated table at the back of the room. If the crowd is large, I pre-arrange for someone to help me sell books, giving them a signed copy of a book as a thank-you gift.
I keep professional-looking brochures about my speaking and writing career on the table with the books, as well as freebies—colorful pens with my website address, a sample chapter from my first book in pamphlet form, and candy—so people will feel valued, and have a way to contact me later.
These speaking gigs have led to TV interviews, additional speaking gigs, and increased book sales.
—Jeanette E. Levellie has published hundreds of humor/inspirational columns, articles, greeting cards, and poems. She is the author of three books, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top, The Heart of Humor, and Shock the Clock: Time Management for Writers and Other Creative Types. www.jeanettelevellie.com