How to get called to consult…

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[I'm in the middle of final editing a new book about niche marketing. This is a very short section about consulting. I'll share excerpts from other chapters in the coming months at this blogsite and at my free newsletter.]

There are many forms of consulting, so we should perhaps discuss those first before we try to stuff the means into a niche-serving mold.

Consult means confer, advise, ask for assistance or direction, give counsel. Somebody pays you for your expertise, experience, knowledge, wisdom, thought—plus time and presence.

One way of defining consulting is by time. An emergency occurs; they call and need instant advice. Or a long-range plan is being formulated; they need outside help to design the project, oversee its implementation, test its effectiveness, and provide ongoing feedback during its first months or years.

Presence is another element. They want you “on call” for spot or instant digital or telephone help. Or they want a two-hour guidance session at their office or yours. They want you to live on-site for five days to review the operations. They want you to review the blueprint, sent to your office by Fedex, and to return any modifications by fax or as an attachment to an email.

You are normally paid by the hour or, having reached a previous understanding, by the project or by some longer time period, like a day, week, or month. The shorter the contract, the higher the per-hour rate. Confidentiality is generally understood as existing between you and the client—sometimes to the point of having to use proprietary material sight-only at their locale.

Paying related expenses generally follows the path used for speeches. If the costs are incidental or the commute is short, it is absorbed in the rate. But significant costs are added to the hourly or project rate, usually on a per-item basis, sometimes with a per diem included.

What is the best way to use consulting for niche marketing?

It happens the other way around. You are brought in for consultation because you are knowledgeable about the niche field. That is, it won’t do much good hanging up a shingle as a consultant in a particular field if you are brand new to it, unknown in the area, or have yet to display any signs of having some experience, wisdom, or knowledge to sell.

Usually the person requesting your services has somehow been drawn to you and has made a judgment about your expertise. They have read an article or book you wrote (or that praised you); they heard you give a talk, speech, or seminar, or they were directed to you by somebody else whom they respect that knows you or of you, usually by one of those ways.

But that’s not to say that, once you decide to consult in a field, you simply wait to be discovered. You do in fact hang up a subtle shingle, sometimes running ads in the appropriate journals, sending printed matter to those most likely to pay for your services, networking with those needing your help, letting fellow consultants know that you are available should they have an overage or need assistance, plus cranking out more articles, videos, reports, “white papers,” and other flags that you have information for let or sale. (Another thing that works surprisingly well for me is a quick mention in my email signature!)

How profitable is consulting?

That depends upon how much you charge and how often you consult.

Rates run from about $25 an hour to many hundreds. Let’s say you charge $100/hour. Then you’d probably charge about $750 a day (for eight hours), perhaps $3,000 a week (of five eight-hour days), and maybe $10,000 a month.

You might also have variable rates. I know of a book editor in the engineering field who charges $100/hour when discussing book production but will read, edit, and rewrite text if it’s computer-accessible for $60/hour—if it can be done in his” off” time, which means he wants an extra week to get it back to the client.

When you’re not busy or you are looking for a change of pace from writing and speaking, a few hours or days of consulting can be “found gold.” A surprise blessing: a call, a problem to solve, a check, and back to work. But when you are busy and a good client “just needs a couple of hours,” it can be a huge grind, in part because payment for those casual requests are usually paid just as casually.

How much does it cost to use consulting as a niche selling means?

Other than advertising, which you may never do beyond adding consulting to the list of your services, what costs would you have? You either have an office or you work out of your home, so you have a place to meet clients if they prefer to come to you. Or you go to them. (You can also meet in neutral territory: a restaurant, a conference room in the library, the hotel bar, the park.) You have a phone and a fax and email. You have a car to get around.

What you are selling is in your head, aided by a hearty handshake and a smile. Add in a lot of “niche field” reading to stay current. All free. Consulting is the art of cashing in on reading you want to do anyway, tinkering, fooling around, trying this and that; on learning the basics, then trying to fit them into new molds; on gathering every tidbit and key fact, old way and new process; on putting all you know and have done, read, seen, and heard into a particular situation or problem now. Most of that is flat-out fun. The pay is almost an embarrassment.

Is consulting a good “lead” means for niche marketing?

No. It comes from proving yourself by other means. There might be exceptions. If you just popped down from Venus and others want to know what Venusians would buy, drive, read, or wear, you have two choices: babble free or babble for bucks (consult). I suspect you will be very busy doing the latter. The rest of us will have trouble “leading” with consulting.

How is consulting best integrated with other means?

Usually it is your sharing by other means that brought you the consulting in the first place.

Any final thoughts about consulting as a niche marketing tool?

In the niche marketing field consulting is the reward for having positioned yourself right, convinced somebody that you know something worth paying to hear (or read), and made yourself available.

It’s logical that successful practitioners often retire, then make more money than they earned before by consulting about the very thing they did earlier! People will pay for knowledge. If you have some core element of knowledge to sell, they want to buy, and if they know how to find you, great! They usually know how to find you because you made it obvious that you were the person to hire by sharing parts of that information by other means.

It isn’t coincidental that I’m listing consulting, among the many niche marketing means, last. It really can be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Differences between Kindle, CreateSpace, Nook, Smashwords, Blurb, Lulu, and Scribd…

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That’s a bit like comparing cabbages with cucumbers, but I get asked this a lot, so let me share my personal conceptions right now, compared to when I wrote How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days a couple of years ago.

First, they all sort of do the same thing, publish your ebook free (or just about) and distribute it. They also pay you royalties. And they get the ebooks out in minutes or hours.

Kindle will probably sell more ebooks for you than any other. Very easy to submit to and they take almost every kind of book. (CreateSpace is a sister house that does the same for paperbacks, and is also very easy to use. Costs about $30 to see the proof before printing.)

Nook is Barnes & Noble, and of all, the easiest for submissions. Except it sells very little from its own Nook website, though it sometimes buys your book from other distributors.

Smashwords sells some books itself and pays the best (about 85%), but your buyers have to find them. It also sells your books to Apple (iPad), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others through its Premium Catalog. Doesn’t cost you anything to have them sell your ebook direct or through the catalog, but getting your submitted text and cover to meet the catalog requirements can be like trying to squeeze that proverbial camel through the eye of a pin. You also need an ISBN for the catalog (you can use a free one they will provide) and you need a special copyright listing on the first or second page.

Blurb mostly sells good looking art or photography books, so I’ve never submitted there. If they’d print the quality of art book I could produce, they’d fold fast!

Lulu, again, is out of my orb. They create ebooks and paperbacks, like the others above, but seem to distribute only to the Lulu world (which they claim is huge). I sent a book or two their way at the outset but haven’t heard a word since. My text must be short on Lulu-world appeal.

Scribd has a fair number of my offerings but has also seemed allergic to sales. Very easy to use. Then, out of the blue, they just sent me a $27+ check but for sales from a couple of years back. I guess I gathered up the minimum $25 before they paid. But two years? Thank God I’m no longer a starving writer; now I’m a starving publisher. So when I get an ebook ready I hesitate before adding Scribd to the list. That’s up to you and your patience. Maybe your book will turn the Scribders rabid with buying desire.

I write a lot about this “open” publishing in my free newsletter. To see precisely what each firm does, how they want you to submit copy and a cover, and other peculiarities, just pop their name into Google and open their site. What they all share in common is that they are part of this publishing revolution that lets you circumvent the major houses and 10% royalties and 18-month delays (or, most likely, rejections) so you can try your own hand getting your book in print—quickly and inexpensively. So what does it hurt to write the masterpiece, style it well, get a dandy cover designed, get the whole thing well proofed, and see if the hordes are frothing to buy your genius?

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Four ways to get magazine or newspaper interviews

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Over the past 30-years, in my “Writing Travel Articles That Sell” seminar, I’d talk for about 20 minutes about interviewing. The entire process has almost completely changed during that time.

First, though, why bother to interview at all? Who really cares?

The editors who will hopefully buy your article (even book) care a lot. It’s one of the magic four components of printed writing: facts, quotes, anecdotes, and artwork, usually photos. The last two add a lot to the writing; the first two are far more important.

What editors want are first-hand observation, words from a direct participant, definitive facts from an authority or expert, or a related utterance from a celebrity. If there’s a pro-con debate you are covering, they want “live words” from at least one person on each side. In fact, if the person being interviewed is famous enough, the subject of the piece hardly matters, i.e. capture every word that President Obama says to you.

There are four kinds of interviewing:

In person. Often these are the most fun because you get to meet and converse with interesting people. Sometimes, rarely, you just encounter the person and you set up an interview on the spot. But usually you must call (or email) them first to sell yourself “I’m Bobby Blue and I’m writing an article about pig wrestling for The Piggers Journal” and tell them what you want, “I wonder if I could interview you for a couple of minutes about your expertise, with tips for the beginner, either right now or when it’s more convenient for you?”

They might say “let’s do it right now.” That happened to me once when I called Governor Adlai Stevenson. Or they’ll say “What about tomorrow morning at 10? How long will it last?” Figure 15 minutes max, five is better. Or they will ask you more questions, and they may just say no. (One very common question: “Is this an assignment?” If you’ve queried and have a go-ahead, just say yes.) If you get a yes, then it’s face to face unless they suggest one of the next three.

By telephone. We’ve already seen what you say on the phone first, above. If the interviewee prefers a telephone interview, all that remains is you figuring out what you want to know from him or her, and perhaps writing down three or four questions if the exchange doesn’t suggest something even more relevant or exciting. You must be well informed about the person you are interviewing: how to spell and pronounce their name; who they work for and the position they currently hold; why they are important to your topic, and if the topic is controversial, what position they pursue or defend. If they have been in print recently, build on what they said there.

Of the two, telephone interviews are easier to get, you can dress however you want, and the other person can’t double over in disgust because you look like their monster ex or cousin. Cheaper too: no place to travel to, no parking, just the phone call.

By email or snail mail. Email may be the most common kind of interview now. The trick here is to be direct and brief, and limit yourself to about three questions. As you imagine, the email might go like this: I’m Betty Blue and I’m in the middle of writing an article for YYY. I wonder if I could interview you by email (or mail) because …? Of course I’ll send you a copy of the article when it’s in print. With your permission, here’s what I’d like to know: (1) (2) (3) … (If you’d prefer to do this by phone, please email me your number and the best time for you.)

There may be several email exchanges before they answer the questions, and if you still need more clarification even then, email back. But try to get it done in one shot, cordially.

Through a press release. Sometimes the person has interview-related points in print to provide to the aggravatee. (That’s you.) They will send you to a website or a link where you can download what is relevant. That’s rare but it can work better than you imagine, particularly for academics or scientists. At that, you may still want to contact the person to ask for clarification or more recent thoughts about one of the points in the release. Then use one of the other approaches.

Sometimes (often) nothing works. You get a thank you but no thank you. You can’t force them to talk so you must find somebody else.

Incidentally, you usually need three or four interviewees per article. Just read earlier articles in that publication to see the editor’s preference.

Last, I’m usually asked if you need the interviewee’s permission to use what they said. Tell them what you are doing first, then whatever they say is fair game. (In fact, you don’t have to tell them first. I once asked a key question to the new U.S. Ambassador to Brazil in the men’s room at a reception in Salvador [Bahia], Brazil. He answered, my research was complete, and I could frolic away the night!)

I hope this helps.

Gordon Burgett

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What do you do first to deduct your travel-writing trips?

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Two premises: (1) you want to write and sell something about a coming trip, and (2) you want to be able to keep all of the money you earn, or at least increase your IRS tax deduction as much as you can.

Good thinking—and totally legal. You are supposed to take every deduction allowed. More than legal, it’s patriotic!

If your writing is a serious business venture (not a hobby), even if this is your first trek in that forest, you must act business-like. That includes writing something and sending it to one or many possible buyers, probably magazines, newsletters, or newspapers. That is, you can’t write off expenses or income if you don’t offer any writing for sale!

Let’s set up an imaginary trip so it’s easier for you to imagine and follow the steps. Let’s go to San Francisco!

First figure out how many days you will be at the target site and how many specific topics you will have time to write about. Imagine you will be in San Francisco for five days and you want to write (1) about the ferry trip to Tiburon and Angel Island, and (2) a trip from Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz Island (and back!).

First, go to your computer or library and gather up lots of facts about both. You will need facts, quotes, and anecdotes, plus some sharp digital .jpg photos. Too many facts and photos are far better than too few, and if you see some first-rate quotes in print make a word-for-word copy of those too. (Live quotes you gather on site are much better.)

Now find something you want to focus on at each location that will make your article unique and informative. Say for (1) the newly opened immigration camp where thousands stayed en route to the U.S., mostly from Asia, and (2) retell the “Home of Al Capone,” plus what one sees on an Alcatraz visit today.

Next, find, say, three magazines that might be interested in Angel Island and three for Alcatraz, and put them in order (probably by how much they pay). Create one prioritized list for Angel Island, another for Alcatraz. Then read the first magazine on each list so you know what the respective editors are looking for.

What you must do then is write a fetching one-page query letter to the editor of each of those magazines, bringing the topic alive and asking (directly or by implication) if they would be interested in reading your article after you return? Give them an approximate return date and promise the article in three weeks.

To be able to deduct expenses later, the single most important thing you must do before going is writing and sending pre-trip query letters. Whether the editor says yes or no, the letter before the trip shows the intent of your trip. Keep a copy of the letters, of course, and the replies. (If the first editor says no, then query the second editor, and so on—but only one at a time about each topic.)

Later, all of the article-related costs will be deductible, so keep receipts or credit card info. That includes travel, hotel, ferry fees, excursion cost to Alcatraz. Almost anything except food (you have to eat anyway). The submissions needn’t be bought by the editor either.

If you’re serious about this and you want to be in print as often as possible, you can rewrite the magazine articles that do sell, query other editors, and sell to them. After you return, create some newspaper pieces too (1250 words or so is a good target length) and sell those simultaneously to any regional newspaper at least 100 miles away from any other that you are also contacting. No query needed here, and do these after you get back. (These articles must be different from your magazine submissions.)

If you sell, say, two magazine articles ($250 each) and four newspaper pieces ($100@), that’s $900 you know you can deduct, if your expenses are $900 or more. You can only deduct as much as you spend on the articles; if you earn more, welcome to the taxpaying majority!

What if you don’t sell anything? As long as you followed the query and submission protocols, you can still deduct what you expected to receive had they sold. Uncle Sam will let you short-earn a few times before they call it a hobby. That’s because once you get professional, you will often earn many, many times your costs on every trip.

I’ve skipped through the details here simply to give you a timing tip that will make trips elsewhere deductible. Please read the Travel Writer’s Guide where the rest is all spelled out.

Incidentally, if you do visit Angel Island, take the bus trip around, get off at the immigration camp, and just walk the short distance back to the pier. It’s long poke around the island on foot—and very hilly.

If you’re a newcomer, welcome to the travel-writing club! (See the many related blogs about freelance writing at this site.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Can you earn much from “open published” ebook nonfiction?

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“Open publishing” means the houses that will publish your submissions free and make them accessible to the public for purchase, like Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Blurb, Lulu, Scribd, LSI, and BookBaby. (We call it ancillary publishing.)

Let’s follow, say, the Kindle path. You write the book; get a front cover prepped; put the whole book in final, ready-to-go fashion (including proofing); open up the publishing path at Kindle, enter the needed data about you and the book; send the jpg cover; submit the book (probably in Word); sign the contract, and wait to be bathed in riches (minus deductions).

My book How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days explains the process for almost all of the publishing houses just mentioned.

The question is how many riches can you expect from ebook nonfiction?

From open publishers? Very little, sadly. The boons by this process that you read about are almost always for fiction, much of it exotic, erotic, romantic, extra-worldly, about detectives, or for kids.

Nonfiction is a tougher road, at least from our experience and that of every other ebook nonfiction writer I’ve spoken with. That road is straight uphill, bumpy, and little-travelled. So we use the occasional monthly nonfiction payments from open publishers (except Blurb, that publishes mostly art books, and Lulu, where we’ve had no luck at all) as tiny sinecures.

How, then, do you profitably sell ebook nonfiction? Through your own sales mechanism and ingenuity.

If there’s a paperback version of our book, we simply use the final book copy converted to ebook format, save it in PDF, and sell it (with its own front cover) alongside the bound version on our order form.

Who buys it?

We’re mostly a nonfiction niche book house (currently serving K-12 administrators and teachers) so lots of those in our target market buy our books in paperback, usually sold through the authors’ presentations, to group school gatherings, or at ed conferences or conventions.

All of our K-12 books are also used as textbooks in grad ed classes, where we usually send a comp ebook to the instructor, who invariably (until now) has the bookstore order the paperback version. (Savvy students find us, though, through Google and buy the ebook from us.)

Thus at least 90% of our book income is from bound books. Almost all of that other 10% either visit our website or see the ebook alternative on a flyer or order form. They order from our 1ShoppingCart form, and it is downloaded seconds later.

But we also sell general market nonfiction, and there our reports sell as well as our digital books. Buyers mostly come from our blogs, newsletters, other web marketing, and from associates. We also “advertise” them widely on our or others’ e-lists. A few items sell better digitally than in paperback. Treasure and Scavenger Hunts is usually wanted to plan a party a day or two after they hear about the book at Google, so overnight shipping makes no sense (or cents for either of us) when they can get the same words almost instantly, then get going…

Thus, while “open publishing” liberates wanna-be publishers, so far it hasn’t generated much income for their digital nonfiction books. They are churning up those ebook sales by their own persistent, often clever efforts and order forms or shopping carts.

Incidentally, another spurt of income can be found when the book is brand new and the paperback has yet to arrive from the printer. You have ebook copies to fill the buyers’ impatience almost from the moment the last word is proofed! (Though we know that time/book gap is pretty much a fiction from the past. You can have P.O.D. paperback copies from LSI in about four days.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Resell your article again and again? Here’s the needed tool.

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If you’ve had a good article in print, why not sell it again and again? To do that you need a cover letter to send to the second editor.

These are full-page letters sent to editors who buy reprints (same as second rights)—usually editors who pay on publication. If you sold first rights to the original purchaser, this gives you an opportunity to sell the same text again and again, each non-exclusively! The letter accompanies a copy of the manuscript that you want to resell, in print as it appeared in the publication that bought first rights or as a digital attachment. (I used to cut up the printed article and paste it on mimeo paper to be read in consecutive order, with photos as printed pasted last or where they fit. Most important was that the article was readable, so sometimes it was necessary to copy it at 150% or more.)

That probably seems like using a crank to start a car! Now I send the cover letter and include either a link to the article I want to sell, or as an attachment (though many editors won’t open attachments).

I give details about this process in a digital report called “25 Professional Query and Cover Letters” from which this blog’s query letter was extracted, which is also available from Kindle or Nook). Details as well in the Travel Writer’s Guide.

Here is the format I generally use: (1) two paragraphs selling the idea in prose similar to the article enclosed; (2) the third paragraph discusses rights: I’m selling reprint (or second) rights or I can rewrite it for a first rights sale; (3) the photos are again available for purchase, plus others not in the article that I’ll gladly provide for possible use; (4) how the original (or rewritten) text can be sent, for their selection, and (5) a bit about my writing background, with a kicker closer. Include an SASE, a return postcard, or at least your email address in the cover letter.

What follows is one of my favorite cover letters, because it sold a lot of reprints! The process has hardly changed at all, and I’ve modified it where it has. Use this as an example, if it will help.

[Return address]
[Phone/email address]
December 1, 1995

[Editor's name]
[Title, publication]
[Address]

Dear _______:

Your readers are my kind of people: history buffs. A date doesn’t make them swoon. Then-and-now mental leaps don’t give them cramps.

So they should particularly enjoy a fun, fact-filled article about life exactly 100 years ago. The year 1896 provides a perfect mirror to see how far we’ve progressed in a century: the only plane flying then weighed 28 pounds; Ford’s car, his first, was a two-cylinder “quadricycle”; there were three permanent movie theaters in the world; I.B.M. and annual stock balance sheets were brand new; Marconi was yet to send his first radio transmission; gold was rumored on the Klondike; a balloon crashed trying to be the first to fly the North Pole, while the South Pole remained unseen; the first modern Olympics began that year; radioactivity was discovered, and violins cost $2 at Sears.

First rights to the article attached were sold to ______, which published the piece two months back. I am offering you second rights to the text as is. Or I can significantly rewrite it to emphasize, through anecdote and quote, the historical anomalies and odd similarities between that time and now. Just let me know.

The photos you see in the article reproduction are also available on a one-time rights basis. Or I can send you some 50 choices to select from, to give your rendition its own visuals. If you use jpgs, please explain how you want them submitted.

The actual copy can be sent two ways, if interested: (1) you can simply use the article as sent, or (2) I can attach it to an email. Just tell me which works best for you, _____.

Me? Some 1,600 articles in print and author of a dozen books, including How to Sell More Than 75% of Your Freelance Writing and The Travel Writer’s Guide. Would you let me know your verdict in the enclosed SASE or by email (address above? I hope you and your readers are up for a fun century-link!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Emceeing or show planning: What to remember when prepping a one-hour presentation

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This coming Saturday I will give a 75-minute presentation to BAIPA in San Rafael, CA, about niche publishing.

I’ve been giving presentations (seminars, workshops, breakout sessions, speeches, or talks) for about 30 years (in fact, 2000+ times, paid), but this Saturday’s is a free program, in part because I’m a BAIPA member, I want to share this unique information, and because they asked!

So let me share what is going through my mind about five days before the talk, in part because so many people have asked me I prepare before I speak. Incidentally, free or paid, there’s almost no difference.

First, I have to know what the listeners know about the topic, what they want to know, and anything I must avoid saying.

BAIPAfolk (Bay Area Independent Publishers Assn) have almost all published (mostly self-published) at least one book. My guess is that about a third of their titles are for children, another third is adult fiction, and the rest, adult nonfiction. Since my topic addresses that last third, I suspect they want to know how they can convert their present book or write a future nonfiction book for niche readers. I suspect that the rest want the same information, and if at all possible, they’d like to know if fiction or books for kids can be sold the niche route. (Not really.)

So I must be careful not to malign fiction or children’s work, rather to focus on nonfiction.

Since most of them both wrote and published their book(s), I needn’t dwell too long on the writing and book design: they are experienced in their chosen category. I will recommend that they find five other books directed at the same age level and to the same niche they will write to, read them carefully and fully, and from them outline what they need in content and style to sell their own book to this new market.

What most of my listeners don’t know is the upside-down marketing process for niching. (The full process is in my book Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time). In summary, they will likely find a pressing need or resolve an aggravating frustration, frame their solution so it works specifically with folks in that niche, then create a pretest mailed to a selected number from the niche (like 200 or 500). The test will be a flyer, a cover note, and a stamped, return postcard. The flyer will tell the book’s title, table of contents, price, book format, the author’s bio, and approximate page count. If the reply brings enough positive responses (like “yes, I will pay that much for that book”) that the venture will be profitable, then the author/publisher finishes the book, has it printed, sends a flyer by direct mail to the niche, and mails (or digitally sends) the ordered book.

—–

Before I forget, if you are interested in emceeing, here are three other, related blogs and four speaking products that you should find helpful. (All but one by Gordon Burgett, who has given 2000+ paid speaking/emceeing performances.)

* “Emceeing: how to write a script that works! (posted 7/5/12)
* “Emceeing: writing a full script for a two-hour show” (posted 11/4/12)
* “Emceeing: the thinking behind writing the script for the 11/4 two-hour show script” (posted 12/27/12)

* A new $4.95 ebook including the above blogs plus more how-to information is at “Emceeing, Show Planning, and Script Writing,” plus an excellent booklet, “How to Be a Great Emcee” from SpeakerNetNews ($4.85) is buyable, full of current, applicable “emceeing” information.

* “Four Special Tools That Get Speakers Booked First!” (ebook, available through order form or from Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords)
* “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar” (audio seminar with workbook, available through order form)

—–

That’s a very fast summary, but my talk must explain how that process works, the listener’s role in it, and what they must do (and spend) step by step. I must give them an example of each of the testing tools, plus a list of the steps in order to follow. I do that by creating a link list that those interested can peruse and call up as needed; i.e., a sample reply postcard they can see on their monitor or print out. (Here is a link to the link list.)

So I must explain what niche publishing/marketing is, where they find niches, how they can participate, and the mechanism by which the pretest marketing can almost eliminate risk and can keep their costs minimal until they know what kind of book they can produce that will pay for itself many times over.

The other major concern is keeping their questions few and on track so all can follow the procedure as it is explained. Thus I will ask them to please note down any question, and I will open up the talk at three points to clarify or expand anything not sufficiently explained.

The rest is Speaking 101: start and end on time, remember to thank those most responsible for your appearance, speak clearly and maintain eye contact with the crowd, limit the items in focus to about three at a time, provide a handout (or a digital link to the support material) that reduces their need to take notes, dress properly, and have fun.

I hope this quick review serves as a helpful checklist when you too are speaking-bound!

Oh yes, do I write the presentation out word for word, then memorize it? I write out the opening, plus the closing paragraph, memorize them, but keep a note card in front of me in case I draw a blank, usually on names. The rest I organize in outline form, the major points in order with the key items to explain about each, and where I will use visuals–which when, and the point of each. If I have a humorous insert I will write in the first line and punch line and circle them. I usually go through the entire presentation once, and sometimes write in good segues between key points in the margin. If it’s a new topic and/or a major presentation, I might mentally deliver it again a few times before speaking.

Best Wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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