Another aspect of being an author is public speaking. Very few authors make a living on writing alone; most never quit their day jobs. However, it is possible to expand your income opportunities through public speaking.

Public speaking. Those words often strike fear in the heart of an author. It’s bad enough we have to come out of hiding to interact with readers and the media. Speaking in front of groups of people simply terrifies some writers.

Authors are not the only ones, though. Public speaking is the number one fear in most people. Some would rather die than talk in front of a group. You may never have to address a crowd of people or be in a large setting, but you’ll probably be required to speak to a group consisting of more than two people.

If public speaking is a fear, there’s only one way to break it—do it. Breaking the fear barrier means doing the one thing you fear the most and repeating that action until it no longer scares you. The good news is the more often you speak, the better speaker you will become. With practice, your skills will improve. You’ll feel more confident in front of other people.

Not every writer is destined to be a professional speaker, but learning the craft is vital. For the introverted author too nervous to speak in front of two people, let alone a crowd, training is required. A media coach teaches poise and confidence. Organizations such as Toastmasters offer critique sessions in a secure environment. Public speaking courses are available at almost every college. There are ample opportunities to train and prepare for public speaking.

Well-rounded authors are excellent writers, good speakers, and work well with other people. Public speaking and people skills will play a large role in your success.

Public speaking can be an author’s greatest marketing tool. It opens up unique promotional opportunities. It supplements the author’s income. It sells books. And in today’s market, authors need to employ every possible angle.

At its most basic, public speaking places the author in front of real human beings. The lure of the Internet has prompted more and more authors to remain hidden behind a website. While blogs and social sites provide a certain measure of interaction, it cannot replace real-world contact. Readers like to know about the creator behind the book and meeting an author in person provides a human quality that is lacking online.

At the very least, every author should be able to discuss his or her own book. This will be required for signings, book readings, and library appearances. Book clubs and writer groups are also open to the author. These opportunities provide more than just a personal touch, as promotional materials distributed by the author can influence later sales.

However, magic happens when an author moves beyond his book and develops a platform around his area of expertise. This should be a natural transition for the nonfiction writer. His education, skills, and experience led to the book’s creation, and he can build a platform around this knowledge. That doesn’t preclude the fiction writer, though. Every book requires research, and a level of expertise is needed to write fiction as well. Regardless of genre, all authors possess the ability to develop a platform and message.

The author who markets himself as a speaker gains several advantages. Professional speakers often receive payment for their services. Speaking engagements can supplement royalties (which are rarely enough to live on) and the income from day jobs. These events allow for back of room sales, netting additional income. An author with a platform is also more appealing to the media, as they want experts who can inform and entertain.

The list of venues for speakers is endless:

All of these provide an opportunity to reach a wider audience and generate greater books sales. Once established as a professional speaker, the author’s reputation will drive the sales of future books as well, thus laying the groundwork for a long career.

You may be trying to sell your book, but ultimately, you’re trying to sell yourself.


Diane Wolfe

Owner of Dancing Lemur Press LLC, Speaker, & Author

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, and she offers book formatting and author consultation. Wolfe is the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. – Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C – Spunk On A Stick – Spunk On A Stick’s Tips – Insecure Writer’s Support Group

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