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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Authors: Be Prepared to Speak!

By Paula Margulies

Photo credit: Author Amy Snyder gives a presentation on her nonfiction book, Hell on Two Wheels, about the Race Across America.

Speaking engagements are great ways for authors to get the word out about their books. Nonfiction authors, especially, can develop a number of talks about their topic and hit the speaking circuit to develop a name for themselves while promoting their work.

Many fiction authors also find public speaking to be a successful way to promote their books. If your novel or short story collection has a topical subject matter, or if you have a special area of expertise or a solid platform in a subject area, you should be able to find opportunities for speaking engagements where you can promote your work and/or sell it afterward.

But arranging speaking appearances is not always easy. For those who are considering going on the speaking circuit, here are some tips to help make the experience easier:

1) Develop a number of presentations around your book’s topic and write brief, one-paragraph descriptions for each of them. The more options you can offer a venue or organization, the more likely that you will have something they’re looking for and be hired to speak.

2) Start early – some venues, including professional organizations, colleges and universities, reading clubs, and museums and libraries, book speaking events many months to a year ahead of time.

3) Keep a list of the talks you’ve given, including the cities where you’ve appeared, the dates for your appearances, and the title of the presentations you’ve given. Organizations will want to know where you’ve spoken before, and having a list to give them shows that you are experienced and a proven commodity.

4) Likewise, get testimonials from those who have hired you to speak. Some organizations will want to check your references to verify your experience and track record.

5) Be prepared when you speak. Do whatever research is required, make notes, and practice before your appearances. Also, be sure you know your audience, including how many people will be there and their demographics – age, sex, expertise, etc. – and plan your talk accordingly.

6) If needed, make arrangements for a/v equipment and always have a backup (your own laptop, printed handouts, etc.) ready in case the equipment is not working or is unavailable the day of your presentation.

7) Bring material to distribute or leave behind at your talk. Prepare handouts, bookmarks, business cards, etc., and find out the number of estimated attendees ahead of time so you have enough copies for everyone in your audience.

8) If you are speaking about your book, have standing posters of the book cover made and bring one with you to mount on a table or podium. Also, check with your host to see if s/he would like any material beforehand to create a display or do general promotion for your talk.

9) If your presentation is open to the general public, be sure to touch base with your host about what kind of media work s/he is doing for promotion. Do your own promotion, as well – create and distribute flyers, sent email invites to friends and relatives, announce events on social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, and send press releases to content and calendar editors at news media offices and websites.

10) If you are going to do some media promotion for your speaking engagements, be sure to contact editors, reporters, and producers for print, radio, and television about two-three weeks prior to your event. Create a press release specifically for your event and, if possible, tie it to national or local news headlines that are relevant to your topic. Also, have a head shot of yourself, your book cover art (jpg files are best), and a presentation summary or description ready in case your media contact requests this info.

11) Be sure to take a camera or video recorder with you and have a friend or someone in the audience take photos of you while you speak. You can place these photographs and clips on your website, and the video clips will also come in handy for those venues that require seeing a clip before hiring you to speak.

A final note: many authors have asked me about the protocol for being paid for speaking engagements. In general, I’ve found that due to the state of our economy, most venues (aside from large corporations) do not pay honoraria for speakers. You should always ask, though, because many organizations might be willing to pay a nominal speaking fee, and even if it is a small one, it may help defray the costs of getting there. Most venues are willing to negotiate, and if they can’t offer honoraria, they are oftentimes willing to provide coverage for travel costs, money for gas, or a meal at the event.

If you are promoting a book, you’ll want to be sure to discuss the possibility of selling books after your presentation and make arrangements for how sales are handled. If the venue is a library or museum, you can ask about having your booked stocked on the shelves or in the museum bookstore. You’ll also want to be sure that you have books there at the event; if the venue won’t hthttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifthttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giforder them, then make arrangements to have them shipped ahead of time or, if convenient, carry them with you.

Finally, be sure to collect business cards and contact information from everyone involved in setting up your speaking event and send thank yous after your appearance. Even if your event was not the most organized or well-attended, you still want to show gratitude for being given the opportunity. A thoughtful thank you is a sure way to show your host(s) that you are a professional and will help keep the door open the next time you want to give a presentation there.
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Paula Margulies is a book publicity and promotions expert in San Diego, California. You can reach her at paula@paulamargulies.com, or visit her website at www.paulamargulies.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Author Talks About the Power of The Conduit

Newly published author Stacey Rourke talks about her just-published YA fantasy novel, The Conduit and how she hopes it will help young women achieve their dreams.
The Creation of a Hero
By Stacey Rourke

The ConduitFrom the time I announced the impending release of The Conduit the most common question I’ve been asked is “when’s it coming out” (Answer: it’s out! Go buy it!) is “where did you get the idea for it?” To that I say it all started because of Mommy brain.

As any woman that has been blessed with title of Mommy can tell you, your whole outlook on life changes when you become a Mom. Case in point–when I was big, huge pregnant with my first child there was a reality show on that had a bunch of scantily clad young women vying for a chance to be the next Pussycat Doll.

At the time I remember turning green with envy at the mere sight of them because none of them looked like they had unhinged their jaw and swallowed a Thanksgiving turkey whole. And that was the look I was rockin’ right then.

Then my daughter was born. I watched another episode of that same show with her nestled in my arms, looked down at her sweet face and muttered, “If I ever catch you doing any of the things those girls are doing I will ground you for life. I don’t care how old you are.” Yes, it’s a double standard, but it goes with the territory of being a mother to a little girl.

After that I saw TV shows, movies and books completely different. Before, the tales of the damsel in distress getting saved by the knight in shining armor were romantic and even swoon worthy. As a Mom, I find that archaic notion-which is still very prevalent in our entertainment mediums–infuriating. I don’t want my girls to sit around waiting for some big strong man to rescue them! If they find themselves in a hard place I want them to know that they can dig down deep to the inner strength their faith and upbringing has bestowed on them and fight their way out of it.

But what role models does the entertainment industry offer up? Sure, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But even the Buffster has grown up, gotten married, and taken her place in TV syndication history. It was time for a strong new heroine. It was with that in mind, along with one incredibly vivid dream, that spawned the creation of The Gryphon series.

In book one of the series, The Conduit, we meet our main character, Celeste. She’s awkward, not the prettiest of girls, and goes through life often being overlooked. Yet it is because of the inner strength that she possesses that she is chosen to uphold an ancient Celtic pact made by her ancestor. What Celeste thinks is going to be a chillaxed summer before college turns into a chaotic frenzy of shapeshifting people, demons, feathered women, and a boy drama. Is a normal life possible for a girl that’s now anything but normal?

As The Gryphon series continues with the upcoming Embrace, we see Celeste growing into her role as the chosen one. Almost to a fault. But startling new abilities, coming face to face with one of her biggest fears, and humiliating herself in front of an insanely hot guy remind Celeste of who she is—kind of a dork who just happens to be able to bench press a car.

As tween and teen girls read my series it is my sincere hope that they can see something of themselves in Celeste. Be it her sarcasm, awkwardness, annoyance at her siblings, average looks, or heck even her love of art. Their ability to relate to her will help in achieving the goal I have for this series, which is to show them that just like Celeste they too can rise to the challenge in the face of adversity and become the hero of their own story. My Mommy brain spawned this series, to create books tweens and teens will love and other Mommies will approve of.

Stacey is currently writing the sequel to The Conduit. Visit Stacey's website to read more at http://www.staceyrourke.com

Look for The Conduit on the Amazon Kindle and from Smashwords.com in other ebook formats. Or buy a copy at the Outer Banks Publishing Group Bookstore on Facebook and get a discount just for clicking on the "Like" button.
The Conduit will soon be in the Nook, iBooks, Sony eReader and Kobo ebook stores.