It is common for nonfiction authors to go out and speak about the subject of their books. Children’s book writers promote their books by doing readings where children congregate. But what about novelists? How can you promote your mystery or your historical, fantasy, period, adventure, etc. novel by doing speaking gigs?
Use some of that imagination that you poured into your story. Yes, book promotion is serious business. But the activities you choose in order to get your book known do not have to be rigid and boring. And your venue doesn’t have to be ordinary.
You can do readings, but only if you can pull this off really, really expertly. If you cannot read well out loud or you do not have a nice voice, do not attempt this in front of your potential audience. It will not be effective. Either have an actor do the reading for you or take steps to improve your speaking voice and your reading skills.
For example, hire a voice coach to help you with the quality and projection of your voice. (Look in the Yellow Pages under singing teacher.) Join a storytelling group. This will help you to learn how to push the limits of your voice so it is more effective for your purposes. Practice reading out loud to children. Use a lot of vocal variety in the process.
Where can you do readings? At writers’ conferences, writers’ group meetings, book clubs, bookstores, specialty shops, public or private/specialty libraries, home parties featuring local authors or just you, coffee and tea houses and just about any place where people gather. I heard authors reading from their books while I was eating pizza on n outdoor patio at a local gourmet Italian restaurant last summer.
Fiction authors can present programs just like their nonfiction counterparts do. You can talk about the story in your book or your personal story of becoming an author. But there are many other ways to present your book to audiences.
Let’s say that your novel features a lifelong love story between two professors beginning in the late 1890s and covering a sixty year period, and it is set in the south. You could dress in vintage clothes while telling parts of the story. You could talk about what went into writing the story.
You don’t have to stay locked into your story. You could create an interesting talk wherein you analyze the mindset of various lovers in classic stories over time. Compare life in the south during that time period to life elsewhere on this planet. Describe how your characters tried to hide their love affair from students and colleagues at the university where they worked. Talk about how some well-known fictional characters (or one of your characters) would be handling the technology age. Or, as I sometimes suggest, let audience members help you act out a section of the book. Bring props and costume accessories such as boas, hats, a pipe, a crown, an extreme example of a period shirt or tie, for example.
Use seasonal prompts for your speech themes. If we are nearing an election, discuss how your character and/or other well-known characters would handle being president—what would they bring to the position? If you are promoting a Christian novel in March or April, you might use Easter as a theme in your presentation. Maybe your story features a strong father figure, you should be able to focus on that aspect of your book when speaking to a group around Father’s day, for example.
What are some other themes you could use when planning presentations around your novel? World events, disasters, legends from the past (how does your modern day adventurer or rebel compare with the activities or the character of Billy the Kid or Butch Cassidy…), technology—space travel, computers, the era of the cell phone, etc.
You don’t have to stick solely to the story you tell in your book. You can dissect your story and create a larger picture, get into your characters’ heads, discuss your characters’ life choices and the what ifs that could have occurred instead. As you can see, you could get creative with your presentations related to your novel no matter the genre or theme.
I’d love to hear from those of you who have additional ideas for promoting a novel or a children’s book through live presentations and/or if you’ve used any of these.
Find articles on public speaking for authors at my website:
Sign up for a FREE booklet, “50 Reasons Why I Should Write That Book,” at this site: