In this episode of the Writing Momentum podcast, Chris and Gena dive into the topic of securing speaking engagements at writers’ conferences. Drawing from their own experiences and industry insights, they provide guidance on how to effectively pitch yourself as a speaker, network, and showcase your expertise to conference organizers. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, this episode offers invaluable advice for writers aspiring to share their knowledge and make a lasting impact on the conference circuit.
- Watch a FREE webinar from Chris, Gena, and Rene to see how to best prep for your next writers’ conference at https://www.writingmomentum.com
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- Liz Wilcox’s Email Marketing Membership at https://writing.fyi/liz
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- Write with us! Join Chris, Gena, and Rene each Wednesday at noon Central and let’s get our writing DONE! https://www.writingmoments.com
episode 84 transcription:
[00:00:00] Gena: Hi, and welcome to the Writing Momentum Podcast. We're so glad you're here. I'm Gena Maselli and I'm here with my husband Christopher Maselli. [[00:00:16] Christopher: Hey, hey everyone. Good to see you. [[00:00:17] Gena: How are you doing today, Chris? [00:00:19] Christopher: I'm doing well. Getting ready for Writer Con which is just around the corner. It's at the end of this month when we're recording and we're so excited because we love writers' conferences and of all the writers' conferences we love, Writer Con is probably the top one on the list. [[00:00:33] Gena: Absolutely. [00:00:33] Christopher: And you can find more out about that at writercon.com if you're in the area or if you're not and you wanna fly in. There's just gonna be a whole bunch of really great speakers there. And we're gonna be there and you can use the code. [[00:00:45] Christopher: wearewriters, w-e-a-r-e writers, and get $50 off your entry. [00:00:51] Gena: Yeah. And let me just, yeah say that. This is writer con, if you haven't heard us talk about this. Writer Con is over Labor Day weekend every year in Oklahoma [[00:01:00] City at the Renaissance Waterford Hotel. Is that right? Did I get that right? [00:01:04] Christopher: I think that's right. [00:01:05] Gena: In Oklahoma City. And this year, in addition to Writer Con, there's a free event on Labor Day itself. So on September 4th there's a free a day event for Reader Con, and so there's gonna be a lot of really great authors there who are gonna have their books there ready to sell and sign. [00:01:23] Gena: They're gonna be talking about their books, so it's gonna be a lot of fun. [00:01:26] Christopher: It'll be really good. And if you're, if you, this is your first time going to a writer's conference. We have a video that we recorded with Renee Gutteridge called How to Prepare for a Writer's Conference, and it's absolutely free if you go to writingmomentum.com. [00:01:40] Christopher: Our website. You can go ahead and watch that video and we've even got a P D F of a checklist of things to bring to a writer's conference so that you can be fully prepared. And those are both free. They're on the front page of writingmomentum.com. Go and get 'em now. [00:01:56] Gena: Yeah. And if you've listened to Chris and I for a while, then you know that we [00:02:00] are fans of writer's conferences. We really believe in them. We don't care if they're just a one day event that's a small event or if they're a larger event. We are just really big fans of them because not only have they been a great source of information, but they have been an amazing opportunity for us to meet other writers and find our tribe. And that has been huge. [00:02:25] Christopher: And that's why we always encourage you to go to writer's conferences, try to go to three or four a year if you can, because they're, they can be just that beneficial. Now, one question we get all the time is, what if I want to speak at a writer's conference? Yeah. Because when you speak at a writer's conference, things change a little bit. [00:02:42] Christopher: When you attend a writer's conference, you are the someone who's hopefully participating, but you're a little bit observing what's going on, right? And when you start speaking, you're rubbing elbows with everyone else who's speaking, all those editors, and professional writers and agents, and it really just increases the opportunity for you. [00:02:59] Christopher: So Gena, [00:03:00] if someone wants to get a gig speaking at a writer's conference, what did they do? Did they show up with their suitcase and say, I'm ready to go? [00:03:09] Gena: No, you usually, you have to be invited to be a participant to be a speaker at a writer's conference, and we're talking about writer's conferences, but I would say in today's day and age, this also goes for online summits. We're gonna talk about those as well. So online summits are just writer's conferences that are online. And yes, you have to be invited and I think there are some elements that you need to bring to the table if you are somebody who wants to be a part of these. And for one, you need to be, if you're coming as an author, you have to have something that you have written. [[00:03:43] Gena: You have to have had a book that you have written. Or if you are a magazine article writer, or if you are some other kind of writer, you need to have that available. [00:03:55] Christopher: Even just to clarify that even more. Even if you're not going to come as an [00:04:00] author, but you want to come as someone who's an expert in something. You just need to be an expert in that. You need to be able to show what it is that you're offering. For instance, we've had people at writer's conferences who talk about how to get 500,000 followers on Instagram. If that's what you're talking about, you need to have that many followers or have helped other people get that many followers. [00:04:23] Christopher: So that you can legit talk what you're talking about. [00:04:26] Gena: And I think that's one thing I do wanna bring up is that, there are different types of people who come and speak at writer's conferences. There are authors who are coming and talking about the craft or about their journey to writing, or even how they market their own books. [[00:04:40] Gena: There are writer helps, these are people who are, might be editors that you can. [[00:04:46] Christopher: Author assistant. [00:04:47] Gena: Author assistants, publicists, people who are specialists in social media. So anyone that would be relevant to the author, to the author's world, to the [00:05:00] publishing industry. They are part of writer's conferences. [00:05:04] Gena: So it's not just writers. It also includes a lot of other people. People who are also, if you're an illustrator, or a cover designer, you're an artist who works with that. If you're a formatter those, you can also bring something to the table for the writer's conferences and the writer industry, the publishing industry. [00:05:25] Christopher: Yeah, so you've got to have expertise. That's the number one thing, but probably the best way to get your foot in the door. Honestly, if we're gonna be honest and true in this podcast. [[00:05:35] Gena: Honest and true. [00:05:36] Christopher: Because I'll tell you, a lot of people, what they'll do is they'll start sending out their resume to the heads of different writers' conferences in an attempt to try and get noticed. [00:05:45] Christopher: And as we have been heading up with Writer Con and other conferences online, and that what we have noticed is that doesn't really get you that far. Where it comes is through personal relationships. It comes through that, scary word, [[00:06:00] networking. Which sounds scarier than it actually is. [00:06:03] Christopher: All it means is you need to be actively involved in some kind of writer's community, which means you need to be attending writer's conferences. Or attending local writers groups and offering to speak there. Just by getting in that community and letting others know what you do and giving them examples of what you do through speaking like at a locals group that will get you so far. [00:06:28] Christopher: Over the years, I have spoken at many local writers groups and that opened the door for me speaking at larger conferences and even speaking at larger conferences opened the door when maybe I knew someone who spoke at a conference or I got to know someone who led a conference or they heard someone heard me speak somewhere. And it just that's the way it happens. [00:06:46] Gena: Snowballs, doesn't it? [[00:06:47] Christopher: Yeah. It snowballs. [00:06:48] Gena: Opens up. And I would definitely say you want to practice what you're, if you're going to present, if you are going to be presenting. Take some notes, learn how to do it well, make sure you've got [[00:07:00] all your stuff together. [00:07:01] Gena: Make sure you've got your PowerPoint or your keynote presentation together. Make sure that you know how to present in a way that would be engaging. 'cause I think that's also an important part of this, is that once you get your foot in the door, making sure that you're good enough that people want to invite you back. [00:07:19] Gena: Yes. And I also think that it's so important that when you speak, and this was. Years ago I was really nervous speaking. Public speaking was not something that came really naturally to me. Just right out of the gate. Now I have a lot of fun with it, but years ago I really didn't, and I really had to alter my view on this. [00:07:37] Gena: And we've talked a little bit about this before, but I had to really change my perspective that what am I going to bring to this talk or to this writer's conference that is really going to help somebody in their journey? It's not about me, it's about them. It's about what I can do for them to help them have maybe a shorter learning curve or about helping them [[00:08:00] get to their goal faster. [00:08:01] Gena: So I think when that, when you come with that servant mentality, that idea of, I'm just gonna help and I'm going to give and I'm going to really serve this community or the people who are here. I think it really makes you a huge asset. [00:08:16] Christopher: Yeah. That doesn't go unnoticed either. People who lead conferences don't want people who are premadonnas, and always need, needing stuff. They wanted to have people who have servant hearts who are just willing to help out and willing to give to the people who are coming to the conference. Give knowledge and give encouragement. And so if you can just do that naturally on your own, whether you're a speaker or not, that will get you far. [[00:08:38] Gena: Absolutely. [00:08:39] Christopher: Now, one thing that I want to recommend, this is just like one of those little practical points, and that is let people know that you're available for speaking and you can do that in person. But one of the things that many authors don't think about doing is on their website, on their bio page, [00:09:00] you should have a section that says something like Courses I teach. Or topics I speak about. And then list each topic that you might speak about. Come up with two or three minimum. I'd say three is good. And have the name of the topic and a paragraph just like you'd see in a writer's conference program, right? So I might say I teach on Common Children's Book Blunders, right? [00:09:26] Christopher: That's the topic. And then the paragraph under that will say do you want to get your children's books sold? Be sure that you don't make the most common blunders that children's writers make. And in this workshop, Chris leads writers through 14 blunders that are often made in children's book writing. [00:09:45] Christopher: I made all that up. It's something like that, right? And so you put that on your website, on your bio page and put a couple others. And then as people are interested, In checking who you are out on your website, they will see, oh, this person [[00:10:00] speaks, right? [[00:10:00] Christopher: Now, some other items that you can include with that are a YouTube video of you speaking, right? [00:10:06] Christopher: If you wanna put a video of yourself speaking somewhere on there, that's a great idea as well as a media kit. And the media kit is basically just a digital download, like a P D F, that might be four pages or show this, it describes who you are, what your topics are, any books you've sold and awards you've received. [00:10:25] Christopher: And I think that's about it, right? [00:10:26] Gena: I'd even say feedback. [[00:10:27] Christopher: Social properties. [00:10:27] Gena: If you've received feedback on your speaking like that. Wow, I love Ellen's class, she really helped me. If you've received those kind of feedbacks that kind of feedback from people, then go ahead include that. Testimonials are always a positive thing to include. [00:10:41] Christopher: Yeah, that gives you a really good social proof. And every time we go speak at a conference, we like to gather feedback like that, whether it's from individuals or if someone posts something on social and they say, Hey, Gena was the most awesome writer, I loved her topic today, what she said. We like to take a screenshot of that, and we [00:11:00] actually have, we've created a boarded Trello, Trello's that place, that's got all the lists. We've created a board in there where we'll put people's pictures and testimonials about us and in their website, any information we need so that whenever we want to create marketing pieces in the future, we've got all that stuff ready to go. [00:11:17] Gena: And I would say even if you don't have a sample that is a live sample from a place that you have done that you have actually spoken at. I would say go ahead and record yourself. If you need to, you get in front of a camera just like what we're doing here. And teach one of your topics that you have to do, teach for 10 or 15 minutes that someone can get a sample and show that you're really serious about it and that you're really good with it. [00:11:41] Gena: And that's okay. They wanna know that you can speak because I think we've all been in, in classes or workshops that where the speakers really haven't been very good. They haven't been able to engage or they've been very monotone. Or for whatever reason, there's different things. [00:11:57] Gena: But Chris, talk to us about [00:12:00] topics that people can think about when they're talking about writing. [00:12:03] Christopher: So remember when you're speaking at a writer's conference, you're speaking to other writers generally, right? So you want your topic to be something that writers can use and run with. So it might be if you write for westerns, it might be How to Write a Western, right? Where you talk about the conventions of Western books, right? [00:12:24] Christopher: If you are a children's writer, you might talk about all the different ways that you can write for kids or common children's book blenders. That's one of my talks that I give, you might do that. If you write, Gena writes for the Christian inspirational market, so she does a talk on how to write for that market, right? [00:12:39] Christopher: There's things like that. We have a friend who does do a lot of social media material, so she'll often talk about how to build a community on social media, right? If you've self-published you, you might be able to say how to self-publish your book on Amazon Kindle. All those are the kinds of topics that people are looking for. [00:12:56] Gena: And I think those are the big topics, right? Those are the big ones. But you [00:13:00] might also, Chris has done talks about five elements that you don't want to miss on your website. On your author's website, so you can get a little more micro as well. We're gonna be talking about maybe some, like Chris is talking about Common Book blunders this year. [[00:13:14] Gena: I have talked about the ABCs of nonfiction or the ABCs of writing for the inspirational market, which is the high level part, but you can get even smaller and more micro than that to say what are, how do you build a believable character? 10 things that you can do to build a believable character. [00:13:37] Gena: Or three mistakes that writers often make when they're creating a scene or building a setting. It might be something like that. Think high level, but also think. More minute and that tinier level that you see, especially if you're somebody who has worked with authors and you think, man, authors do this and they always seem to come back and I [00:14:00] so often see this mistake that they make, they make these three things. I see authors make mistakes they make on social media there, there's a great class. Three ways, three mistakes authors often make on social media and how to fix 'em. People will be there. [00:14:16] Christopher: All right, so here's our homework for this week's episode, right? We want you to sit down, take just five or 10 minutes, and write down about three topics that you could speak on. At a writer's conference. Write down the title and write down the description of what it is. Right? Two or three sentences. [00:14:32] Christopher: That might that's the kind of thing you could put in a conference program. And then and then find somewhere that you can go to a conference. Whether you want to go to Writer Con and join us there in a few weeks. Or if you want to just find some local conference or something else. Find somewhere that you can start mingling with others. [[00:14:48] Christopher: And so that you can get that networking going. [00:14:51] Gena: Yes. Now remind us, Chris, one more time. We do have that free giveaway that we have done. It's a free webinar that we recorded with Renee [00:15:00] Gutteridge. Called How to Prepare or How to Prep for a Writer's Conference. It is free on our website writingmomentum.com. [[00:15:07] Gena: Check it out. We also in there include the coupon code for Writer Con, which is [[00:15:14] Christopher: wearewriters [00:15:15] Gena: wearewriters all spelled out. No spaces between 'em. Put that in there. You get $50 off at Writer Con. We'd love to see you there. If you are there and you have listened to one of our podcasts, please come up and introduce yourself. [[00:15:30] Gena: We would love to meet you. We just love to meet you. We love to meet the people who we are helping, hopefully. [00:15:36] Christopher: Yes, absolutely. Hey, if you've enjoyed this podcast, please rate reviews, subscribe and share. We, I'm gonna encourage you today to please leave a written review for us, if you would. [[00:15:45] Christopher: The written reviews do far more than just about anything else other than sharing it with others when it comes to promoting your podcast, because people will look at those reviews, the different podcasting services, look at those reviews to see how popular a podcast is. So [[00:16:00] if you would leave us a written review, just two or three sentences I know sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to do that in your app, but if you would look and figure out how to do that, we would so appreciate it. [00:16:09] Christopher: Because this isn't something that we can do alone. Remember that Together [[00:16:14] Gena: we have writing momentum. [[00:16:15] Christopher: Bye-bye.