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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Double-Dip Technique #3: Speak and Sell Books

As a professional speaker and author, I’ve found that I have to decide which takes first priority. And if you do both--write books and speak as well--you must do the same. In other words, are you an author who wants to sell her book, or are you a speaker who happens to be an author as well?

Here’s the thing: as the former (an author with a book to sell), people will expect you to speak for free. After all, you want to sell your book, so you’re probably willing to show up anywhere and everywhere (think bookstores, book clubs, luncheons, conferences, you name it) to promote your book, which will hopefully results in book sales, and eventual royalties. And that’s fine—that’s what I did with my first couple of titles. I put a lot of miles on my car and took a lot of time away from my business to sell as many books as possible.

But along the way, I began speaking professionally, focusing on topics including healthy lifestyles. I had started out doing writing programs at writers’ conferences and local libraries but as a health and fitness writer (and coauthor of Small Changes, Big Results), soon branched out to covering health and lifestyle subjects for corporations and associations. These gigs paid much better even if I didn't sell any books, and I made a conscious choice: to give up speaking solely to sell books. Speaking for free (even if I sell a few books) is simply not worth my time. And it devalues my work as a speaker.

If you’re a speaker who happens to have a book to sell, you don’t speak for free, or just for exposure for your title. You speak to make money, and hope to make extra income with “back-of-the-room” sales. That means you get paid twice—once for the speaking gig, and once for any books you sell while there. That’s the double-dip technique I use. (In a future post, I’ll talk about how to launch a paid speaking career.)

So which are you? An author who speaks to sell books, or a speaker who happens to have a book as well? Knowing where you fit will help you decide to how to market yourself and your book.


  1. Ah, such a helpful post for me. My two co-authors and I have done the dog and pony show for years. We do love it, and we have made no money. We find that now, conferences etc are happy to have us speak but no one is willing to pay. Our last one was the AARP National Convention. We have developed a couple great workshops for women, but how to market them??? I will definitely get your book.

  2. Hi Kelly,
    Just wanted you to know that my query you critiqued for Oxygen was accepted! The word count was reduced to 500 from my original 1,500 pitch but that's typical. Thanks so much for your help on this!

  3. Renee, my experience has been similar...plenty of people are happy to have me speak for free to "sell books," but that's not enough incentive for me!

    Heidi, congrats--that's great! Thanks for letting me know. I'll do another query critique week again soon. :)