Once you’ve written a nonfiction book, you can easily begin your career not only as an author but as an expert speaker. Although novelists may think they are relegated to doing “readings,” any author can develop a speaking career based upon a book.
How to Turn Your Nonfiction Book Into Numerous Talks
While not every chapter in your nonfiction book may be appropriate for a talk, most likely do provide a great foundation for a 30-60 minute speech. Take a look at:
- The title—Could it be the title of a talk?
- The subheadings—Could they be major points made in your talk?
- The text—Could you break it down, possible by condensing several paragraphs on a particular topic, into bulleted points?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, you’ve just found the foundation for your first talk.
Most nonfiction books have 10-20 chapters. That means you could feasible create 8-18 different speeches (assuming you might have at least two chapters that don’t lend themselves to this type of formula).
Additionally the general topic of your book can be a topic for a talk. This could be your keynote or most requested talk.
How to Turn Your Novel into the Inspiration for Talks
If you are a novelist, you may not be able to use particular chapters as the foundation for a talk in the same manner—unless you can break one or two down to show how you wrote it and focus your talk(s) on writing craft. However, you can draw out your themes and primary topics and use these as the foundation for a variety of talks.
Make a list of a minimum of three themes or subjects that are primary in your book, such as transformation, suicide, bullying, international slave trade, world finance, self-discovery, or gratitude. Now, take these themes and:
- Tie them into the news
- Show how your characters offer universal messages related to them
- Provide your unique commentary on recent studies that relate to them
- Offer inspiration from your life or the lives of your characters (or the lives of others) that tie into them
- Tell stories from your life that explain why you were inspired to write this story
- Explain why these topics are so important to the audience or to the world
As part of your talk, you can also quote from your novel to illustrate certain points.
In this way, you become an expert on these topics. Of course, you could also write a nonfiction book on these topics or themes to “make” you an expert, but by simply speaking about them, especially to relevant audiences and groups, you become that.
Can You Make Money Speaking?
When you first begin speaking you might actually not get paid much at all…especially I you start before you book is released. To start my speaking career and to build author platform as a speaker, I wrote short versions of books I wanted to publish one day. This allowed me to accurately claim to be an author. I then marketed myself as an author/speaker. This landed speaking gigs for me, and I sold the short books at the back of the room. I still sell those books today, since in many cases I have not gotten around to writing the full-length versions yet. The money I made selling books not only earned back the cost of producing the books, the extra served as my “pay.”
As I became a better speaker, I began to command an actual paycheck for showing up to speak at an event or for an organization. Once I had a full-length published book, especially a traditionally published book, I had the credibility to earn more money for a talk.
How much you earn for speaking really depends upon the industry in which you speak. If you are speaking to corporations you will get paid much more, for example, than I do when I speak to writers’ groups or at writers’ conferences. If you are serving as a panelist as opposed to a keynote speaker, your compensation will differ as well.
Know that when you speak, you will sell books—not only at the back of the room but also online. I recently did four speaking engagements in a month (at different writers’ conferences in different states), and How to Blog a Book sold many more books in that four-week period. Additionally, because of that, its rank improved on Amazon, which also helped it sell more books.
Do you think our book has the makings of a good speech (or two or three) and do you have what it takes to become a great speaker?