Talk Up Your Book, New York: Allworth Press, 2012, 302 pp.
Patricia Fry, Executive Director of the Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network (SPAWN) has a lot of experience in selling books. She has written thirty-five of her own and helped countless other authors sell theirs.
In her newly published volume, Talk Up Your Book, Fry advises, “…face-to-face interactions and public appearances are some of the most effective methods for authors to promote their books.” Subtitled How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences, and More, Fry’s book is a nuts and bolts guide for writers who want to do just that.
Talk Up Your Book draws upon Fry’s interviews with a number of authors using the promotional tools she describes. [Full disclosure: Stories To Tell founder Nancy Barnes was one of the people Fry interviewed.] Their experiences provide some insight into using public speaking to promote books and give a human touch to Fry’s practical guidance.
The first half of the book presents an overview of ways in which authors can promote their books through speaking engagements. Fry begins with advice on how to locate speaking opportunities on events staged by others and on how to create events of your own.
My favorite was a section on Intriguing and Outrageous Venues for Novelists. For example, says Fry, “Wendy Dager once did a signing in a cupcake bakery because, in her novel, I Murdered the PTA, her main character refers to the PTA members as “cupcakes” and there is a big cupcake on the cover of the book.”
Fry, who honed her own speaking skills as a member of Toastmasters International and was invited to be the first woman to deliver the keynote address at the Middle East Toastmasters Convention in Dubai, provides advice and encouragement to writers who feel uncomfortable with public speaking. She offers practical tips on how to speak effectively from how to prepare a talk to how to build rapport with the audience while delivering it. She even offers good ideas on how to publicize your appearance and attract an audience.
The second half of the book deals with making the most of opportunities to speak at specific types of events including: author signings, conferences, book festivals, radio and TV appearances, and virtual speaking opportunities like teleseminars, webinars, podcasts, blog talk radio, etc. Each venue presents authors both unique challenges and opportunities. Fry explores all of them.
We attend a number of Book Festivals each year, both smaller local events and large national events with thousands of people in attendance. We have had a lot of success with these appearances. But after reading Fry’s chapter on Book Festivals I had a couple of excellent ideas that we’ll apply when we appear at the Miami Book Fair International, November 16-18.
For authors who embrace Fry’s strategy, the book’s final chapters, Get Paid to Speak and Resources for Budding and Expert Author-Speakers, will be of particular interest.
Too much of the buzz in the writing community is on how to build your author platform and promote your book through the digital channels of social media. Amid the blizzard of blog posts, tweets, status updates and You Tubes, authors sometimes seem to have forgotten that meeting people face-to-face is still a great way to sell your book. In Talk Up Your Book Patricia Fry does an excellent job of reminding them that a personal conversation helps you connect much more directly with a potential book buyer than even the best post on Facebook ever will.