Speak Up, Writers! Do Authors Really Need to Be Speakers?
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You’re a writer. An author. But do you ALSO have to be a public speaker? In this podcast from Writing Momentum, Chris and Gena make the case for why today’s writer also needs to be a speaker–and exactly what you can speak about that will establish yourself as an authority on your topic. Join us!
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episode 68 transcription
[00:00:00] Christopher: Hey, hey, let's go. Hey, is Christopher and Gena Maselli and we're here to talk today about, do authors really need to be speakers? That's what's on the Writing Momentum podcast. What do you think, Gena? You wanna just give a quick answer to that? [[00:00:21] Gena: You know what? I would say yes. [[00:00:23] Christopher: All right. Thank you for listening ha ha. [[00:00:26] Christopher: You absolutely do need to be a speaker. And this is something that has changed over time. It used to be that, I think the classic thought of an author as someone who sits in an office and sits in front of their typewriter or computer, gets their stuff done and never sees the world, right? [00:00:41] Christopher: But today it's super important to also venture out and do things like be a speaker for multiple reasons, and one of the main reasons is because hey, it helps you market your material. All right, when you get out there and you speak to an audience, you're marketing your material, you're building loyalty, you're helping really, You're helping people [[00:01:00] connect with you because they see you. [00:01:01] Christopher: And when people connect with you, then they feel like, hey, I want to get to know more of what that person has. And they start to look at your books and they start to want to talk to you and they're gonna be emailing you, right? And all those things happen and it's just all part of building your audience. [00:01:19] Christopher: And when you're a speaker, we Gena and I have said before as we, we try to market in a lot of different ways, but we have found when someone actually meets us that's what makes the biggest difference. If we can sit down with someone for five, 10 minutes and just, give in to them. [00:01:34] Christopher: And give into them, that's not the right way to say it. To give into them. [[00:01:39] Gena: To sew into their lives, to sew into their lives, to just be an influence or to impart some wisdom or some encouragement to, to people. It makes them feel seen, heard, recognized and appreciated. [00:01:53] Christopher: Which, and if you genuinely wanna help people, then that that's good. [00:01:57] Christopher: And that's exactly what you wanna have come across [00:02:00] because it can be frustrating to feel like, man, I want to help people. And I can't figure out how to do that. Public speaking is absolutely a way to do that. It's a way to get before people and sew into their lives as you said. [00:02:11] Gena: Yeah, it definitely is. And a lot of times when people think about this, and I'm sure people are gonna be listening to this and you're gonna say that's not true because look at, fill in the blank, some author that you know, that rarely does public appearances. Rarely does any type of public speaking or anything like that. [00:02:30] Gena: That may be true for that. There's always gonna be those outliers, right? Those people that have built a brand, they've built an audience outside of public speaking. They've built it just strictly on their speaking. But even those people even those, I would say there's usually some way that they are connecting with people with In some way with public speaking. [00:02:52] Gena: They might go on a podcast, they might go on a television show, they might do a commencement speech. They might, I mean [00:03:00] there's just all these different ways they might do some kind of interview somewhere. There's all these different ways that they are connecting and building their audience and connecting with their audience. [00:03:10] Gena: And so that's what public speaking really allows you to do. And if you are on the front end of your writing career, then I really encourage you to start sharpening these skills now. This may seem like a strange topic for us to be talking about on a writing podcast, but here's the thing is that the biggest questions that Chris and I get asked. [00:03:34] Gena: Is how to sell their book. How do I sell my book? I've got a book, I wanna sell it. How do I. How do I do that? That's one of the biggest questions that we get. And so that is not a direct straight line, that is a line that has a lot of kind of, it's like a river that has a lot of little springs that are feeding into it. [[00:03:56] Gena: You are feeding into that spring of getting [[00:04:00] the marketing for your book. [00:04:01] Christopher: And don't you wish it were a straight line but it's not. But when you go to speak somewhere, you're essentially establishing yourself as an authority in whatever you're speaking about. And so if you're at a trade show, you are speaking as an authority in that trade show. If you're at a writer's conference, you're speaking as an authority there. And that adds a lot of weight to what you talk about, right? And yeah, it is definitely something that you wanna start doing. And it can be a money maker, you can get paid for writing gigs, and so it's a nice extra way to, to bring in income or speaking gigs. And it's a nice way to bring in extra income. [00:04:35] Gena: It is and also, I feel a lot of times when we're talking on here, we're talking to the fiction writers and we're talking to the nonfiction writers, right? For the fiction writers, yes, you are trying to connect with an audience, you want to get them to where they trust you as a storyteller. So that they are constantly buying whatever book you are publishing. For the non-fiction writer though, here's the kind of a secret is that the book [00:05:00] is usually a tool for your speaking. You want people to read your book, but ultimately, so many times that book is really a tool to get people to find those followers who are going to follow you, and they're going to want to hear. [00:05:17] Gena: If you're a great salesperson and you've written a book on how to be a better salesperson, they're going to want to hear that firsthand from you. They're not just gonna want the book, they're gonna want your personality in that. And if you are a pastor and you're talking about some theological issue. [00:05:35] Gena: You're talking about how forgiveness can change your life. You know what? They're gonna wanna hear your messages or your sermons on that as well. So for the nonfiction writer especially, you really want to work on those public speaking skills. [00:05:50] Christopher: It can seem like your book is the thing, right? Because this is the thing you've worked so long and hard at trying to produce, and you may have spent months writing it. But [00:06:00] really the book is just a piece of that whole marketing funnel. We've talked about marketing funnels on here, right? It's a piece of that marketing funnel that you're putting together. Where you're introducing people to your topic, your book. [00:06:14] Christopher: Might get people even more introduced to that topic, but then they want to know more about it. And so public speaking is a way that you can let them know more, bring them further into the funnel and that sort of thing. And there's a lot of things that you can speak about. It doesn't have to be just the book itself. [00:06:31] Christopher: Sometimes that is the thing that you're gonna speak about. Places will want you to come and speak about your book. Maybe you go to a school, right? If you've written a children's book, and they'll want you to speak about "the book". So when I came out with some of my children's books, there were times I would go to schools and I would just speak about the book, what it was about, and we'd read some chapters in there. [00:06:53] Christopher: And that was fun. And it's a very, it's a very nice way to hide a little bit behind the book so you're not so nervous, right? You can just have that [00:07:00] book in front of you, but then there's other times that you're also speaking on something else, like you might speak on the topic of the book. [00:07:07] Christopher: And there were other times I went to schools and I would have this book, and they'd want me to speak about how I wrote the book, right? They didn't really care about the topic of the book itself or want me to read a chapter. They just wanted to know how did you write a book? And so there's a lot of different angles that you can come at and so over time you can build a series of 3, 4, 5 talks, that you can offer people. And I think that's something that I see a lot is that authors feel like boy I need to come up with something new every time I go speak somewhere. Cuz I've already done that before. They'll speak on something and think, oh, I've done that. I gotta come up with something new. [00:07:41] Christopher: No, you can have one or two, three talks that you just use over and over at different venues. Because you're speaking in front of different people at different places. Even when we speak, sometimes we'll guest on other podcasts, and when we've done that, a lot of times I'll talk about the same thing each time because it's a whole [[00:08:00] different audience. [00:08:00] Christopher: And so as long as I've prepared my topic, I'm ready to go and again, it takes away a lot of that anxiety in that of public speaking because you'll have talked about this over and over. Maybe even use the same kind of outline, and so you're able to suddenly talk about that thing and just have it naturally come out. [00:08:17] Gena: Chris, I do remember when for me, this journey to doing public speaking has not always been an easy one. I didn't just wake up one day and think, yay. I get to talk in front of people and share wisdom. Which I may or may not have in front of people. It, it was really a struggle. [00:08:39] Gena: So I understand this struggle that a lot of writers have when they're thinking about this. There was a time I was terrified of public speaking really? Really, really terrified. There were even times where jobs would come open and I would think, and I was working in marketing and I would think. [00:08:57] Gena: That one requires me to do public speaking. [00:09:00] That requires me to lead huge groups of people through whatever, and to do different things. And I'll tell you, this, it ended up being a good thing, even though at the time it was so hard, is that I started volunteering in our local children's church. We had about a hundred kids in there and about six adults in there who were all trading off the teaching. And I was horrible at it. I was really bad. [00:09:29] Christopher: That's not true. [[00:09:30] Gena: No, I was, there were times when I knew oh, there was something really good. Something came together and it was really good. But there were a lot of times where I was just like I just felt like I was stumbling over my words. [[00:09:41] Gena: I was embarrassed, I was self-conscious. I was all those things, but we did that for how long? [00:09:49] Christopher: We did that for 10 years, for probably over 10 years. We taught in children's church, we did skits, we did games, we did object lessons. We did stories, all kinds of things. And [00:10:00] every time you did though, we didn't just get in there and dial it in, we practiced beforehand. We wanted, there was a hundred kids. You've got to entertain a bit. You gotta get 'em into it. And after 10 years of doing that, you start to get where you show up on Sunday morning, you're not real nervous, you just know you gotta deliver this. And if you've practiced you're ready to do it, you're gonna do it. [00:10:18] Gena: That's where it started. Yeah. And I still don't feel like at the end of that 10 years or so that I was really good at it. But from there I started teaching in, because we homeschool, I started teaching in homeschool classes, with groups of kids. And so I got a little bit better and a little bit better at it until now, [[00:10:40] Gena: I actually enjoy it. I actually have fun when I do public speaking, and of course Chris, I feel like you were born good at it. [00:10:49] Christopher: No I wasn't born good at it. I, it is something that I have learned over time and it's, it is that kind of thing. Again, next week we're gonna talk on the next podcast about how you can [00:11:00] overcome stage fright, good ways to prepare for speaking, and so we'll get deeper into this. [00:11:05] Christopher: But no, it, it also it, I had to find opportunities to speak and when I started speaking, I would just find a topic. Here's the thing. If you come out with a book, there are some writers' conferences that are just happy to have you, right? Local writers' conferences will say, come on in and speak. And so you'll find you'll get speaking opportunities. And if you'll take it as not just something where I'm just gonna be nervous, instead say, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna practice this. I'm gonna show up and I'm gonna deliver that thing. You can find more and more opportunities, and you can speak at conferences, you can speak at different events, you can speak at schools, trade shows, churches, and even podcasts. [00:11:45] Christopher: When you're on a podcast, it's basically like public speaking, right? You're before a group. Now it's a little easier from the standpoint that you're not having to look in people's eyes all the time, but it is still the kind of thing you have to prepare for. And here's the thing I want to go back to this [00:12:00] idea of that when you speak, you establish yourself as an authority, and you do, if you are on podcasts, if you're in front of a group, however you're public speaking, you will start to be seen more and more as an authority on that topic. [00:12:16] Christopher: People will start to search you out. And what's really great, and this is something I learned early on after I had my first few books published and I started speaking at writer's conferences, is that it put me in a different place in people's minds at the writer's conferences. And here's what I mean. [00:12:35] Christopher: Before I just attended writer's conferences. I was another newbie writer. And here now, because I had some books out or because really because I was public speaking. Cause there were public speakers at writer's conferences that don't have books out. But suddenly you are rubbing elbows with the editors, with the agents, and with other professional writers. [00:12:55] Christopher: And let me tell you something, you learn a whole lot more. [00:13:00] When you are in that position and opportunities start to arise because you're seen now as a peer and not as someone that's being taught. And so yeah I am all for public speaking. It's something that you have to learn how to do. And again, we'll talk about this more next week about how to do that, those practical applications. But once you learn how to do it I think you'll find a little bit of a bug. You're like I want to do this more and more often. I want to find opportunities where I can go speak. And once you start making sales because you've been speaking, you start making connections. [[00:13:32] Christopher: It just, becomes addictive. [00:13:33] Gena: I would agree with that. I think it's a lot of fun. You start having a lot of fun and we're gonna talk next week. Probably one of the biggest one of the biggest tips or biggest thing I'm losing my word here, that really propelled me into doing more public speaking and the thing that really changed it from a chore to a privilege and really a lot of a fun [[00:14:00] element. [00:14:00] Christopher: You're not gonna spoil it? [00:14:01] Gena: I'm not gonna spoil it. [00:14:02] Christopher: Oh, you're not gonna say. [00:14:02] Gena: But I hope you tune in next week, because this really was the difference. I'm gonna share what really was, but the difference, and here's the thing is I come back to it again and again. [00:14:12] Gena: So if you're like, public speaking just makes you, it just makes your hands sweat before, just thinking about it. Just make sure your palms start sweating. Definitely come back next week. We're gonna give you some of the tips that we've used to ever come in, but I do want you to know, I feel you, I feel that pain, I feel the nerves from here. [00:14:35] Gena: I have been there. And you can get past it, and it really can benefit your writing, which is why we're talking about this. [00:14:42] Christopher: All right, your challenge between now and next week is we want you to think of a couple topics that you can speak about at a writer's conference and create yourself a loose outline. [00:14:51] Christopher: Okay, so don't just listen to this podcast and jump to the next one, or go do something else. Just take five minutes and write down a couple [00:15:00] topics you can speak about, maybe a loose outline on what you could speak about, and I think you'll be surprised at the fact that, hey, you've got something really good to say. [[00:15:09] Gena: And can I just, can we give just a couple of ideas? [[00:15:13] Christopher: Okay, sure. [00:15:13] Gena: Let's do a couple of ideas just to get the juices flowing here people. Okay. So let's say you're talking about fiction and you are writing a fiction series set in a specific area. You might do talks or topics about something special about that area. So for me, I, for some reason, I have gotten into reading books that are set in the low country of South Carolina. And so you can talk about people who are writing to that area or that genre you might be talking about, maybe southern hospitality tips or southern manners you could be talking about recipes or something from that area. You could be talking about the ecology from that area or the landscape of that area or [00:16:00] something. You could be talking about the history or the myths of a certain area or of a certain genre, even if you are doing fantasy. What's something we could do? Somebody could talk about if they're doing fantasy. [00:16:09] Christopher: What I like to really focus on is the theme of the book, right? Okay. So one of my books is a fantasy. It's about a boy who gets a laptop and whatever he types into it actually happens. Okay? The theme is the power of words. So it's very easy to develop a talk on the power of words, and that could go either for kids or adults, right? [[00:16:31] Christopher: I can develop two different talks on that and you could also do a talk on your process. You could do a talk on, [00:16:37] Gena: And he's talking about your writing process. [00:16:39] Christopher: Yeah, your writing process or just your experiences as an author. There's a lot of different topics. [00:16:43] Gena: Yeah. There's just a lot of different ways. I just wanted to take a second and or just a minute to cover some of those ideas because you may still be out there listening to us going, where do I even start? I hope that these can give you some ideas to make you go, okay I'm writing about [[00:17:00] this so I can talk about that. So start filling in those blanks. [00:17:06] Gena: Just start brainstorming. We know that you're creative and that you can come up with a lot of ideas with that. And of course, we just mentioned fiction because I think fiction authors are more tempted to sit there and go, I don't know where to start with this. Where non-fiction that you can talk about your subject, but you can also break down your subject and just talk about a portion of it. [00:17:26] Gena: Maybe just take one chapter and really spend your time on that chapter. With the idea that, Hey, I finish up this talk. Buy my book and you can figure out the rest of the steps that I'm gonna give you. That kind of thing. [00:17:40] Christopher: Absolutely. Hey, if you've enjoyed this podcast, will you rate, review, subscribe and share it with someone else who might be an author who can really benefit from topics like this? [00:17:51] Christopher: We don't want you to miss an episode. That's why we ask you to subscribe, and if you'll review it, it helps other people find it. Next week we're gonna talk more about speaking. We're gonna talk [00:18:00] about the things we've learned that have really made our public speaking a lot easier, as well as some really some unique tips. [00:18:06] Christopher: I think you're gonna so if you're wanting to get into the speaking thing, just explore it a bit. You don't wanna miss that episode either. Until next time, we're not doing this alone Gena. What? [00:18:15] Gena: That's right. [[00:18:15] Christopher: What are we doing? [[00:18:16] Gena: Together we have writing momentum. [00:18:18] Christopher: That's right. Bye-Bye.
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