5 real good reasons to be an author who’s a public speaker

Have you considered extending your book's reach by becoming a public speaker? Here are 5 reasons it makes sense for you and your book.

Professional public speakers have long known that organizations with training budgets view a book as an excellent indicator of expertise and topic knowledge.

I discovered this, too, when my humor book, WHY CAN’T A MAN BE MORE LIKE A WOMAN?, was released a couple of decades ago. Fortune 500 corporations that included Corning, Kraft, and Xerox invited me to speak, as did organizations that needed a light-hearted, upbeat keynote speaker.

I was happy to oblige and accept flattering fees to speak at sales meetings, conferences, and women’s events.

Speaking doubled my book income

So…when my publisher released Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions, my book marketing plan included securing paid speaking engagements that would allow me to:

  • Provide nonprofits with information they could use immediately to generate publicity
  • Sell books
  • Leverage the book to earn more

In addition to meeting all three goals, my speaking income was a little more than the advance I received to write the book. Clearly, the time it took to pursue paid speaking opportunities was well worth it for me.

Benefits of being an author who’s a public speaker

Is it worth it for you? Here are five reasons to consider being an author who’s a public speaker, even if you focus on doing it locally rather than outside your home base:

1. You can earn more from your book as a public speaker.

Sure, you can – and should – accept unpaid speaking gigs offered by local groups or association conferences. But why limit yourself to unpaid opportunities? Why not take that experience to organizations that have money to pay speakers?

What’s more, most organizations that invite authors to speak both want and expect authors to have books available for purchase. It’s why publishers like to see public speaking in the marketing sections of book proposals. Speaking equals book sales.

The mechanics of that vary according to the situation. Some events are large enough that organizers arrange to bring a local bookstore onsite to handle sales.

In other situations, you will need to bring, sell, and sign the books yourself. (When that’s the case, always ask your host to provide a volunteer who collects money while you sign books.)

In addition, in some situations, event organizers purchase enough books to give one to every attendee. Sound appealing?

public speaker 2
Could this be you?

2. You can share your message with more people when you’re a public speaker.

You have something to say, right? That’s why you wrote the book. Speaking lets you present your core messages in person.

But it’s more than that. People in the audience can share their messages, insights, and stories with you, too.

When I spoke about the lighter side of gender differences (the subject of my first book), men and women alike would share funny stories with me afterwards. It’s the best kind of content research!

3. It can lead to more and often better paying work.

Many consultants speak to generate leads. If you’ve got a book and you consult on its topic, public speaking can not only generate more speaking invitations at higher fees, it can also fill your inbox with requests for information about your professional services.

If you've got a book and you consult on its topic, public speaking can not only generate more speaking invitations at higher fees, it can also fill your inbox with requests for information about your professional services.Click to tweet

To help seed this, be sure you have useful handouts that supplement your presentation. Brand them and add your contact information. Include a link to a free digital download – a lead magnet – that will let them add themselves to your email list.

4. It supports your expert positioning.

If you wrote a book, you’re considered an expert on its topic.

If you wrote a book, you're considered an expert on its topic.Click to tweet

This applies to all types of authors – from nonfiction writers to novelists to memoirists. (Think about all the research you did for your novel. You learned a lot, didn’t you?) When you add “public speaker” to your list of credentials, you further underscore that expert status.

Expert positioning, in turn, opens you up to media interviews that generate publicity, more invitations to speak, and higher consulting and speaking fees.

5. Your fans want to hear from you.

Whether they deserve it or not, authors are admired by non-authors.

For reasons that I struggle to understand, many think authors are “cool.” And people like to hear what cool people have to say. Oblige them.


This in-person connection is especially important with memoirists. Because your story is personal, readers welcome a chance to learn more about you in person.

It’s those personal connections that solidify relationships and create loyal fans, too.

How to get started as a public speaker

To get started, identify local groups you’d like to speak to. This is essential if you don’t have much experience.

Groups you belong to should be at the top of your list. Identify groups that reach your audience and check their websites for their meeting schedules.

The daily and/or weekly newspaper calendar of events will give you others, as will Google (try searching for “community events calendar [your city,state]”).

If you’d like to speak nationally, target the local chapters of national associations so you get some practice in front of that group – and some possible recommendations for the national conference. Industry conferences usually have a call for proposals on their websites you’ll need to complete and submit.

For instruction on how to become an author who speaks, see Module 4 of of my two courses, Book Marketing 101 for Nonfiction and Book Marketing 101 for Fiction.

I know that public speaking isn’t an option for every author. You’ll do fine without this tactic in your book marketing plan.

For others, it might be time to step over the wall that’s held you back so far, especially now that there are fewer COVID-19-related restrictions. If you’ve never experienced it before, you might be surprised by the benefits and possibilities being a public speaker will bring to your author experience.

If you speak about your book’s topic, how do you usually get your speaking engagements?

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in March 2011. It has been updated and expanded.)

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  1. I find this an invaluable piece of information, and yes, I revel in the respect people give me as an author. I have former classmates and people on the street who treat me like a celebrity! (Although I’m not exactly basking in sales yet). I have been told that I hold strong opinions; I also have had traumatic personal life experiences which certainly have contributed to the person that I am. Because of that, I would like to have paid, as well as unpaid speaking engagements.

    1. Getting to the point where you can be well-paid to speak is definitely something to aim toward, Jacqueline.


  2. An interesting post, Sandra. I can see how non-fiction, especially help books, and memoirs can generate speaking opportunities, but I’m not so clear about fiction.I write fantasy and historical fiction. 8 fantasy books and 2 historical. I’m stuck as to what I could talk about, and to whom.

    1. Great question, V.M. You can talk to historical society audiences about how you research your historical fiction — the resources you used, the lengths you went to to get accurate info, the kinds of information they could be archiving that will be useful to future generations exploring the past.

      Your fantasy fiction probably has themes that audiences can relate to — adventure, loneliness, being different — whatever (I’m just making this up since I’m not familiar with your work). What messages can you share and what groups need to hear them? I think HS students would be interested in hearing about world-building.


  3. I love speaking about the 260 WWII vets I’ve interviewed and written 10 books about. I know some people may not want to read but may attend a talk on the war. It’s a great way to introduce these amazing people to a new generation as well.

    1. I love that you do this, Kayleen, and I’m sure the veterans you profile and their families do, too. Unrelated…are you planning anything special for Veteran’s Day?


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