Debb Hackett / Guest Post
Speaker: Using Your Voice to Market Your Words
Quarterly Meeting, May 1, 2021
As writer’s, we often hear about the importance of our voice, our writer’s voice. There are seminars and workshops at almost every conference I’ve attended helping attendees to find these voices, or develop them.
Clearly, this is an important tool in the writer’s supplies craft box. Now I need to share a secret. You’ve got more than one. “What?” I hear you say, “More than one?”
Yes. You have at least two. The one you write with, and the one you speak with. That second one is where the needle scratches across a vinyl album for many. List of things that frighten Americans the most often show public speaking in the top three, mostly taking the number one spot. Conversely for us Brits, the most common #1 fear is being alone. So I often joke that I can give a talk, or teach a class so long as someone stands beside me.
So about this other voice. It’s a secret, and significantly under-used weapon. Public speaking events of any description are great ways to get the word out about your book. You don’t even have to be at such a function to talk about your book. Just your presence as an author will drive traffic to the internet to check you out.
I’ve got four simple steps for you to consider:
Prayer is how we should always begin researching a new venture. If you want to grow and develop your writer’s speaking voice (or, if you will, your writer’s outside voice), then you’ll definitely want the Lord to put the message and the words into your mouth, a bit like the times Moses had to address the Israelites without Aaron. As a reporter I was taught the five W’s – who, what, where, when, why and also how, which inconveniently isn’t spelled whow. In this context, three W’s are important.
- Who: Maybe you write for a very specific demographic? Can you pray about ways to become involved with people who fit in those parameters? Perhaps you are called to focus on a specific age group or subset of society. People with commonalities tend to gather together at some point. Perhaps there’s an opportunity there?
- What: Pray about what type of speaker you are called or positioned to be. What’s the tone of your voice, your style? Are you going to be a humorist, a straight shooter, an educator or an evangelist? Can you tell compelling true stories or transport people with tales of love or adventure? Perhaps hold a historical society in thrall?
- Why: Finally, consider prayerfully the type of issues you feel led to focus on. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, all books have themes or topics that they tackle. Could you talk about those, or go and volunteer where those subjects are explored?
And now to the three main avenues for using that other voice.
- PUBLIC SPEAKING
This is a great way to build your name recognition and find new readers. For instance, if you write children’s books, you may want think about volunteering at schools or Sunday schools, VBS programs, local libraries. Obviously approach every bookstore within a sensible radius that sells your books too, but a little lateral thinking can go a long way.
Research where your target readers go and find opportunities there. Lots of organizations look for speakers. Even if you’re asked to cover a related topic versus give a talk about your book, attendees are going to be interested in who you are and what you write. For example, a good friend of mine was asked to speak at a homeschooling conference. She homeschooled both her daughters. The conference had nothing to do with her writing. But do I think that her being a writer was mentioned in her intro? Yes. Do I think that drove people to look her up and then buy a book? Absolutely.
Public speaking isn’t fun for everyone. It doesn’t always come naturally. If you’re in this category, don’t be discouraged. There are organizations that can help, perhaps a community college or even a class at a writer’s conference.
This is a massively underutilized medium for writers to promote their work. Radio stations aren’t all music. Even music stations sometimes have talk sections, or different programming at the weekend. Do your research. Find out where your voice might fit, you area of expertise or themes of your work might align. Again, using the previous example, a station that serves younger family demographics might talk about homeschooling and could very easily like calling on a local author who homeschooled to join the discussion.
Perhaps your local station has a book review show? Or the nearby university station covers the local arts scene and would consider discussing the work of a local author. Check out the programming at area hospitals too. Opportunities can arise from the most unlikely places.
And finally, podcasting. Recent statistics show that a massive thirty two percent of Americans listen to a podcast on a monthly basis. Like the other mediums mentioned in this post, podcasts need material. So figure out what your potential readers are listening to, and position yourself as the ideal guest. Listen to some podcasts you think would be good places to appear.
There are podcasts on virtually every subject or nuance of a subject on the planet. Maybe you are looking for a straightforward discussion about your latest book. But could you also get involved in a topical show, somehow related to the theme in your books, or an area of your profession, if like most of us, you had a BWL (before writing life)? Maybe you have a specific skill within writing? For instance another friend who specializes in newsletter growth is a great guest for a book marketing podcast. She’ll almost certainly add subscribers to her own newsletter, but also drive traffic to her site to look at what she writes.
In summary, be encouraged that you have another writer’s voice, there are plenty of places for that voice to heard, and along the way, you can drive traffic to your website, up your newsletter subscribers and sell more books.
Writer, broadcaster and speaker Debb Hackett has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a Royal Air Force test pilot, Debb has written a bible study for military wives.
A regular contributor to the Advanced Writers and Speakers Devotional, Arise Daily, she’s also been privileged to write several chapters for the Write Well Sell Well craft book. For now, based near London, England she’s having lots of fun working on a contemporary romance series and was an ACFW Genesis award semi-finalist in 2020.
When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass or skiing. If you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would also be a win.
Faith, Hope and Love