Sell Your Book from the Back of the Room

The Amazing Huff is a collaboration between C. Herbert Locy and Mark Graham Communications.

While it can be challenging to find professional public speaking gigs, it can be done. To locate speaking opportunities, first and foremost, ensure you have expertise in a specific topic. After you have identified potential topics, search online groups and websites related to your subject matter, as well as professional sites such as LinkedIn. Be willing to start small. Before you pitch, take the time to research any conference or event that interests you, thus ensuring your pitch addresses the conference organizers’ needs.

Once you secure that coveted speaking engagement, what comes next? First, take plenty of time to prepare. Learn as much about your audience as you can. How many attendees should you expect? What characteristics are they likely to share? Will there be time for Q&A?

Next—practice, practice, practice. Write your full speech, ensuring you’re covering all salient points. Then hone it until you’re able to deliver it comfortably and naturally using only an outline. No one wants a speech read to them word-for-word. Instead, you will best engage your audience by speaking comfortably and knowledgeably, using humor where appropriate, and making eye contact. Practice in front of a mirror, a test audience, or even by recording yourself on your phone or other device.

If you plan to sell your book at the event, remember that it’s your expertise, personality, and brand that matter. The audience wants to know who you are as a person and why your words are important. While they might be interested in hearing teasers from the book during your speech, they will quickly lose interest in a speech that’s a thinly disguised sales pitch for the book. For this reason, at Mark Graham Communications, we encourage our clients to retain some of their important material for public speaking, rather than attempt to put everything they know into a single book. The idea is to generate audience interest in your book, not to use the speech to reiterate every piece of data or story within its pages. If audience members buy your book and find the content is nothing they haven’t already heard during your speech, they will consider you an unreliable source in the future.

It’s also important to keep your expectations realistic. Many audience members, even those interested in your topic, will not purchase the book. Some are simply overwhelmed by the amount of information they’re receiving at the conference or event. Others might turn down the offer of a physical book because they prefer ebooks. Ensuring your ebook is readily available and providing a link can help the audience find it later. To sell the ebook on-the-spot, have a QR code available that takes readers to your ebook on your preferred online vendor’s site.

All of this, of course, starts with a great book. If you need help writing yours, please get in touch. We’d love to talk about your interests, passions, and expertise—and how we can help you get a book out there that everyone is talking about!