Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits with Kari: To Speak or not to speak, that is the Question

First of all...Happy Holidays to everyone! Hope you all have a merry time and a fabulous new year!

Last time I was on I talked about giving a book signing. This time I'm going to talk about speaking engagements.

To speak or not to speak...that is the question.

Recently I was asked to speak at a library as well as in a school. I am a certified teacher (even though I haven't taught in a looong time!) so speaking in a school should come naturally to me. And I have given writing workshops at both my local chapter as well as RWA nationals so speaking in front of adults and teens at a library shouldn't be a problem for me either, right?


It's still terrifying because I'm not talking about some random subject, I'm talking about my books. What if they don't like my books? What if I bore them? Or in the case of the library, what if no one shows up, or even worse, what if they walk out in the middle of my presentation?

There's so much that goes into a speaking engagement that I reached out for advice and here's what other authors offered up as tips.

How much to charge?
*Some speak for free at libraries and schools, but most libraries and schools have a budget for speaking engagements and insist you charge.
*Charge a fair fee after considering several factors: how far you have to drive, if you had to hire a babysitter, how many hours you will work, etc. After all it does take away from an author's writing time?
*Many schools and libraries have a standard fee they pay for one or two hour slots or all day events, so just ask them.

What to speak about?
*You want to give them their money's worth.
*When speaking at schools, you want to make your presentation interactive. You can still speak about your road to publication, but make sure you also get the students involved and actually come up with writing activities that are fun and related to your book.
*When speaking in libraries, there will probably be fellow authors there as well as kids. In this case you can still make it interactive, but you'll probably do more speaking than writing activities. Speak about your road to publication, but also the writing process and the making of a book from what happens after a "first sale," including titles and covers and edits, etc, right up to release day.
*In either case, be sure talk to your publisher or a local bookseller and have them agree to sell books at your event so you can sign. And with schools, have the schools send out a pre-order form ahead of time so you'll know how many books you need. It's also a great way to sell more books if they are pre-ordered and paid for ahead of time.

Finally, there are a lot of author websites that cover speaking engagements and fees they charge, etc. As well as some websites with tips such as http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com as well as http://www.scbwi.org

Anyone else have any great tips they'd like to add? I'd love to hear about your advice since I'm still seeking help myself :-)


Lindsay said...

Kari, I had to speak at a signing once and it was the most terrifying thing I think I've ever done. Any of you who know me know I'm shy and introverted.
The only advise I've got is to dress for success. You're not only reping yourself but other authors.

Mary Martinez said...

Great post. And appropriate since we just had a Utah RWA meeting about speaking and presenting at the library.


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thanks guys.

I just found another GREAT website for help in this area.


Donna Cummings said...

Kari, people will respond to enthusiasm, and they will be thrilled to hear from an "expert", which is what you are to them. :) You may end up inspiring a new generation of writers!

Think of the different speakers you've heard previously. What did you like about their presentation? What made you want to keep listening or participating? I would try to focus on those kinds of things, so that it will be enjoyable for you AND the audience.

Good luck to you! I bet you have lots of fun. :)

Liz Lipperman said...

Kari, even thinking about speaking in public sends the adrenaline shooting through my body and sends me straight to the fight or flight mode. Believe me, I'm running like hell!!

I don't know what it is about standing in front of a group of people, but I just can't do it. I know you're supposed to picture them naked or something, but how can you do that when you are gasping for air?

So, folks, I'm waiting on those tips on how to do this.

Kari, let me know if you find a magic button...or a magic toddy..that works!!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thanks Donna!

And Liz, I think the more you speak, the easier it comes. But I still get some jitters, even when only in front of kids. At least they are younger kids. Older teens can be tough.