by Marcia Yudkin
Traditionally, authors releasing a new book would go on a "book tour," which involved scheduling signings, talks, speeches and media interviews all around the country. Although many of these activities have moved online in the last decade, speaking engagements remain a powerful way to sell books and build an audience. There's no reason why Kindle authors can't enjoy those benefits, even when they have no physical copies to sell in the back of the room or to hold up on the podium.
Start your Kindle speaking tour locally. Each town or cluster of towns has a chamber of commerce, which is always looking for breakfast or luncheon speakers. Many areas have free-standing local networking organizations as well. If you're not already hooked into the networking scene in your community, ask a local banker, real estate agent or local service business owner, or inquire at the nearest Small Business Development Center or community development office.
Your book topic may have interest for specialized groups, such as garden clubs, political organizations or churches. Discover which organizations regularly feature speakers at public events by studying event calendars in your local paper or online.
Create a list of organizations that might be thrilled to offer you as a speaker. For each, call or email the organization and ask for the name and contact information of the speaking coordinator. Then call or email that person and volunteer yourself as a speaker. State what you would speak on, explain how it would be of interest to the members of that group and provide a brief bio for yourself as well as a description of your Kindle ebook. Normally what happens next is just setting the date for your talk.
In addition, most public libraries have a meeting room, where they allow speaking engagements and/or welcome them. Go to the library in the town where you live and ask who coordinates meetings. Introduce yourself and offer to speak. This has worked for me every place I've ever lived.
You can also ask local businesses that have an in-office conference room if they would like to host a small speaking event to which they invite their clients. Explain how this positions them as helpful in the eyes of their clients. Your topic need not directly tie in with what these professionals do for this approach to succeed. For instance, if your ebook teaches parents how to help their children develop better study skills, an attorney, accountant or psychotherapist would be serving their clients who have children to host your talk on this topic at their office.
Non-local events require much more coordination to arrange, because you have to schedule them when you are available to travel to a specific area. However, I once partially financed a road trip around North America by setting up speaking engagements in Florida, Texas, California, British Columbia and points in between, and selling books where I spoke.
Some ebook authors get stymied by the fact that they have nothing tangible to sell at the speaking engagement. How then do you encourage attendees to buy? Simple! Print up flyers containing what's called a QR code (Google "free QR code generator" and you'll find sites where you can create one for your ebook). People in the audience who have smartphones will know how to snap a picture of the QR code to get to the sales page for your ebook. Include a plain old URL for your sales page on the flyer as well for those who don't have a smartphone. They'll take the flyer with them and buy your ebook when they get home to their computer.
Any time you do any of the above, if the event is open to the public, send a press release about it to the local papers. Very often a speaking event serves as an excuse for a full-scale writeup about the book or the business in question. That in turn can spark sales from folks who do not attend your talk.