Help Desk | Speakers Bureau

As an author or novelist, you have most likely participated in your fair share of book signings and author events. But have you considered making the rounds on the lecture circuit?

We’ve all seen those fantastic speakers on Ted. We’ve even heard of former legislators, business icons, etc., raking in the big bucks for sharing their opinions and experiences.

Some may believe speaking engagements are reserved for celebrities and almost-celebrities but think again.

If you include  a “have book, will travel” section in your book marketing plan, it will be a lucrative way to

  • gain exposure for your book,

  • increase awareness for your brand.

  • and open a new revenue stream for your publishing business.

Don’t think so? Then why is the 5th largest trade-book publisher in the world currently advertising for Marketing Manager/ Sr. Manager to grow their Speakers’ Bureau presence?  If Penguin Random House is willing to promote their bestselling authors; it must be good business for small, independent, and self-published authors too.

Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Review your fiction/non-fiction publication for various topics. Now, of course, if your book is nonfiction, it will be easy to determine your topic (s). For fiction, however, you’ll have to work with issues developed from your novel’s

A) plotline; motif and theme

  • Start locally – Pitch your topic and availability to your local Library, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Lions Club, et al.
  • Prepare a media calendar and include cultural events.

A) For example, February 1st is the beginning of  Black History Month; March 1 begins Women’s History Month. Therefore, if your book is versed in black women history, you can plan for two months of speaking engagements.

  • Order your books in advance – Speaking engagements are significant for impulse book buying.
  • If you secure a non-paying speaking engagement, make sure you can obtain film rights. Have a photographer/videographer on hand to film your appearance. A great demo reel will secure more speaking opportunities. If it’s an informative speech post it to your video channel or website.

Speaking of fees; your mission, should you accept, is to secure a minimum of $10,000 per engagement.

Good Luck!  ~MH


Help Desk: Agent Needed

Found on the discussion board, “Agent Needed.”

Please visit the link for the complete question, but here’s a synopsis:

“The screenplay writer is from the Caribbean and can’t find a literary agent for representation.  The few she’s come across want her to pay a fee….”


  • No reputable Literary agent will ask for a fee upfront.
  • Agents get 15-20% of the deals they broker for you.

As a screenplay writer – your best bet is to look for an agent in Los Angeles, CA.  They broker contracts for screenplay writers.  Also, keep in mind that most screenplay writers have to belong to the Writers Guild before getting a deal, but before a writer can gain membership, she must first sell a screenplay.

I know it sucks, but that’s the nature of the game.

Who knows? You could be the one that breaks the mold.

Writer’s Hack – Turn your screenplay into a novel.  Your odds increase exponentially in landing a literary agent (New York/East Coast). Those agents represent fiction and non-fiction writers.  Once you find an agent and get your book placed with a trade book publisher – there’s a chance your book can be optioned to film.

NOTE: Do not sign away all your subsidiary rights!

An easy way to find a fiction/ non-fiction literary agent is to use a search engine and enter the genre of your project and book agent. Ex. ” literary agent, Occult.” This should result in literary agents that represent occult writers.

Once you get to their website, read their terms carefully.  If they ask for money upfront – Bounce!

All this is spelled out in a great book I found

“Get Published! Get Produced!  A Literary Agent’s Tips on How to Sell Your Writing” Much success!


I haven’t reviewed the book yet, but based on what I know firsthand about publishing and screenplay writing, and production, this book is packed with helpful information.  ‘

Even though it was published in 1991, it contains some book marketing tips that even self-published authors can use.  ~MH

Help Desk: Your novel IS a consumer packaged good

You’re at your favorite supermarket. There are aisles and aisles of edible perishables, but your job is to pick up some staples – milk, butter, bread, and maybe some breakfast cereal. But of course, you can’t leave the store without your favorite goodie.

You walk up and down the aisles, but you can’t find it.  Frustrated, yes, but you will not leave without it.   You see a store clerk and ask about its whereabouts.  The clerk says they moved it to the middle of the center aisle.  They’ve positioned your favorite, and obviously, everyone’s ideal comfort consumable to move some of the unpopular products.  No matter which side of the aisle you enter, you must pass by a lot of other goods to get it to it.

Now that’s power.

How did this product become empowered to practically fly off the shelves, taking with it other less desirable products?  The answer is simple. You and everyone else has been seduced by its packaging.  Your favorite goodie is packaged to be desirable first, so it will become a lifetime habit.


Think about it. The fact that it’s so popular and we’re so human means this product feels like an intimate hug wrapped in (fill in the blank).  How does it taste? Smell? What’s the texture? – How does it feel in your hands? Does it fit perfectly between your fingertips?  Do you rub your fingers together after consuming it to brush away the crumbs or do you put it to the tip of your nose for one last whiff of the delectable treat before it’s all gone?

What are the dominant colors?  What colors did the designer select to accent and highlight the package to communicate? Is it sealed, to heighten your anticipation when you attempt to open it?   Can you re-seal it once you have one or two, or does it remain open as to entice you to finish the whole package in one sitting?

“Look at me, Look at me!”

Finally, how does it introduce itself?      

“The Kid in you remembers”, “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever”, “Because You’re Worth it”

OK, those memorable lines belong to snack and beauty products, but isn’t your novel a consumable treat for the mind?   Why aren’t taglines such as those used to communicate to your audience what’s in it for them (WIIFM)?

So many novelists don’t realize their book is a consumer product package with benefits.  Look up the definition of consumer product package – you will see the similarities between a novel and let’s say L’Oreal cosmetics or Little Debbie baked goods.

For example, think about your last reader’s description of your book?

‘Satisfying, so good, intriguing, riveting tantalizing.’  Did she follow-up with, “I devoured your book, I want more”?

Take cues from your readers.  They may not have to open a box or tear open a bag to get to your novel, but they will devour it like it’s a Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pie.

Think like a Con Artist

Determine what you’re really selling and market it.  Does your novel send a message of hope, determination, courage, and protection, et al.?

Instead of trying and failing miserably at marketing a novel like non-fiction book that uses facts as a selling point, promote the experience, the feeling it produces or the lesson it imparts.  Promote a message that will set it apart from the 50,000 * other novels published each year.

Marketing gurus called this term Unique Selling Proposition.  Don’t get caught up in the name, however, just find out what is at the heart of your novel and promote the heck out of it.


*Bowker (Books in Print) reports 50,498 fiction titles were traditionally published in 2013.  Self-published titles take that number higher. Bowker reports 1 million titles were non-traditional publications.