When you earn a living by traveling from one venue to the next, sharing your lessons learned in life, or offering your expertise, you must be able to grab the attention of your audience with your presence and your voice. If both of these aren’t compelling enough, you’ll lose your attendees before you even get the opportunity to get into the meat of your presentation.
That’s why many professional speakers include video clips as part of their marketing efforts. They know that to get someone to hire them (preferably, someone who is also willing to pay them to speak), it’s essential to show that they are engaging, magnetic, and able to draw in the crowd.
It’s the equivalent of being able to watch a video of a product being used to make sure it works before deciding to buy it. But what many speakers fail to realize is that writing a book is also part of many pro speakers’ marketing plans. Why?
1. It Establishes You as an Expert in Your Field
First and foremost, writing a book is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in whatever it is you speak about. Being a published author tells the rest of the world that you know enough about the topic to not only talk about it but also to write an entire book on the subject.
Being an expert means that those who attend your events will have a higher level of trust with what you’re telling them. Even though it may not be the same as having a college degree or industry certification, when you have your name on the cover of a book, it says that you have expertise in that area.
Research has even connected higher expertise with getting people to take action. For instance, in an article published by SSRN in August of 2019, researchers revealed that if participants regarded a particular source as having a high level of expertise, they were more likely to engage in certain behaviors, even if those behaviors were risky.
Think of how this type of power could enhance your career as a speaker. The more you’re able to get audience members to take the actions you suggest, the more proof you have that your ideas or methodologies or your way of looking at life work. Thus your value as a speaker continues to enhance, enticing others to hire you because you can offer tried-and-true results.
2. It Increases Your Credibility with Your Audience
Imagine that you’re responsible for planning training within your company. This training aims to teach all employees how to be safer in the workplace. Your business’s liability will be reduced by decreasing workplace illnesses and injuries while also offering staff a better place to work, thereby improving the retention of star employees.
If you are presented with two potential speakers on the topic of workplace safety, both of whom have similar skills and expertise in this area, who would you hire: the one who is a published author or the person who has never written on the topic? The first because that person has more credibility on the subject.
Credibility is essential as a professional speaker because if your audience doesn’t believe what you say, you might as well say nothing at all. People are also generally pretty good at detecting when someone is saying something potentially untrue, and if they get this feeling from you, your career in this field isn’t likely to go far.
Writing a book establishes credibility because it shows readers that you know what you’re talking about. Moreover, when you are willing to put your knowledge, thoughts, and ideas in writing, it tells others that you believe what you say enough to reduce it to print.
3. It’s an Additional Revenue Stream
It’s easy to look at professional speakers and think that they must be raking in the dough. We often picture them traveling in first class, staying in only the most excellent hotels, and having hired drivers to take them wherever they want to go. Admittedly, some speakers have created a demand so high that they are afforded these types of luxuries. But most have a much different reality.
As of November 2019, the average annual earnings of a professional speaker is $41,756 per year, according to ZipRecruiter. Keep in mind that this is the average. Therefore, while some speakers may earn closer to the $100,000 mark, there are also people speaking for a living who earn as little as $19,000 annually. You don’t need a degree in accounting to understand that this amount of money won’t go very far.
Yet another reason, writing a book should be in your marketing plan as a pro speaker. It creates an additional revenue stream, whether by selling your books online or to event attendees. Book sales can help offset the expenses typically incurred in this particular profession, such as those related to travel, shooting and editing brand-enhancing videos, and maintaining a website.
On a side note, some speakers never intend to sell their books, using them as a ‘bonus’ for attending the live event. Taking this type of approach may not add another revenue stream, but it could increase the number of bookings you get because you offer the audience more than your verbal expertise. You’re also leaving attendees with something physical they can reference in the future, increasing your appeal to those booking the event.
How to Write a Book You’re Proud Of
If you’re ready to write a book, so your audience views you as a credible expert and also to increase your income, your next thought may be how to get it done without the book looking like something written by a second-grader.
After all, although speaking and writing are both forms of communication, each requires a specific set of skills and a particular process. With that thought in mind, here is how to create a book that will help propel you to the top of the ‘must-hire’ speaker list.
Review Other Books in Your Field
One of the best ways to begin to formulate your book is to look over books that other speakers in your genre or topic area are selling. This will give you ideas about what attendees may expect in terms of book size, length, and overall layout.
For example, if your book is about your journey, a paperback that is 5.5 by 8.5 inches or six by 9 inches is typical. Conversely, if your book is more of a workbook, journal, or something you want the attendees to be able to write in, it will be easier to use if it is closer to letter size.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t go outside the box and do something different than others in your industry or topic field because you can. But it at least gives you a place to start if you’ve never written a book before and have no idea how to begin.
Create an Outline
Creating an outline for your book is beneficial because it helps you identify and organize all of the information you want to include in its pages. Having an overview can also make it easier to see if there are any holes or missing areas in the content you wish to provide.
Depending on your style, this outline might simply list the main topic ideas in the order you wish to present them, or it could list all of the subtopics you want to include as well. Some speakers prefer to use the outline to note every single thing they want to touch upon in the book, whereas others like to simply have a brief overview of what they’d like to discuss next.
Go More In-Depth Than Your Speech
You can be the most riveting speaker in the world, but that doesn’t mean that your audience will be willing to spend their hard-earned cash on a verbatim rendition of the things you said during the event.
For this reason, you want to provide information in your book that you didn’t include in your speech. This will entice the attendees to buy it because they know that they will learn more than what you’ve already presented.
Set a Daily or Weekly Writing Goal
How do you manage to write a book when you’re busy going from one event to another to deliver your words of wisdom? One way is to set a daily or weekly writing goal.
This goal may require meeting a minimum word count, writing for a certain amount of time, or finishing a specific section or chapter by a set date. Whichever you decide, you should put this goal on your calendar to serve as both a reminder and encouragement to get your book completed.
Have Your Book Professionally Edited
Have you ever read a book that had so many errors in it that you had a hard time finishing it? If so, what did you think of the author? How did it impact what you thought of him or her?
If you publish a book laden with spelling errors that are missing words or input words where they don’t belong, it can hurt your image as a credible expert. At a minimum, your reader will likely consider you lazy, which results in a lower level of respect.
None of these is ideal, so take the time to get your book professionally edited. This will increase the quality of the finished product.
Alternatively, Hire a Ghostwriter
Does the whole book-writing experience may you break out into a cold sweat? Or maybe you’re okay with writing your stuff, yet simply don’t have the time. In cases such as these, a ghostwriter may be the best solution for you.
A ghostwriter is a person who will write your book for you, allowing you to publish it in your name. Some ghostwriters require a tremendous amount of participation and input on your part. Others only need an outline or a video of your event to create a finished product.
Reach out to your network and ask if those you know have used a ghostwriter in the past and, therefore, have someone they recommend. Alternatively, there are a few freelance sites online that you can use to connect with someone who can help you develop and create your book.
Ideally, you want a ghostwriter with some level of knowledge or experience in the book’s topic. This increases the likelihood that they’ll use industry jargon appropriately and that they’ll be able to speak to your reader in a way they understand.
When working with a ghostwriter you’ve never used before, it’s also helpful to establish regular milestones. This ensures that the book will get done on schedule and that the content is what you expect. It also prevents the scenario where you wind up with a book that you aren’t happy with because you weren’t involved in the creation process.
How Do You Promote Your Book?
Once your book is finished, and in print, it’s time to promote it. This is true whether you choose to sell it or give it away as both of these scenarios can sweeten the deal for your target reader, making them even more excited about coming to see you.
Professional speakers set up a table and sell their books before and after, as well as during breaks. If this is something you’re interested in, check with the organization hiring you first to make sure they are okay with it. Some don’t allow their speakers to sell items at all, and others say that it’s perfectly okay.
Also, add your book to your one-sheet and promotional materials, so you become synonymous with your book. Remember: the more people are aware that you are a published author, the greater your expertise and credibility, and the greater their desire to want to see you speak.
Another way to promote your book at an event is to let the audience know you’ll sign their copies during breaks or at the end. There’s something about having a book personalized to them that makes them want to have it even more. And the more memorable you become.