Writers don’t just write, they communicate. They have a burning message that they have to get out there, and if they are successful, they find an audience hungry for that message.
But as an author you’re not just limited to writing when it comes to communicating with your audience. You can also speak to your audience. When you learn how to become a motivational speaker, you will connect with your audience in ways you never could as a writer, and you’ll be able to build a much stronger brand.
In this article we’ll set out to convince you that, if you’re serious about becoming a professional author, you should also think about building up your speaking career. Since becoming a public speaker isn’t easy, we’ve put together a few tips on how to get started so that you can begin planning your public speaker journey today.
Here’s why and how to become a motivational speaker:
8 Reasons Why You Should Become a Motivational Speaker
Once your book is published, your next move will determine your book’s success in the long term. We’ve already discussed how to launch your book, and some other ways you can market your book, but speaking will establish your author brand. Here are eight reasons why.
#1 – Becoming a Speaker Sets You Apart
The truth is, the world of self-published books is quickly becoming a saturated field. That means you need to do whatever it takes to bring attention to your book, including being assertive about marketing. Us writer types are often reserved and introverted and may not seek out public speaking opportunities. If you’re a speaker and an author, you stand out from those one-trick ponies!
While some authors prefer to stay out of the spotlight, it’s not a good marketing move. To find readers and make a name for yourself, you need to put yourself out there. Speaking engagements garner attention for your book and set you apart from the (shy!) pack who aren’t as comfortable in the limelight.
The good news is that even if you aren’t a born speaker, you can learn the skills you need to become comfortable on the stage.
#2 – Speaking Engagements Make You a Better Writer
Learning the art of both forms of communication — writing and speaking — will bode well for your career. Reading passages from your book is commonplace at book launches, author events and speaking engagements.
The beauty of this exercise is that you get to see your words through a different lens — that of your readers. You can see the real-world, real-time impact your words have on others. Not only is this a cool feeling, it can help you tailor your next book to whatever your audience responds best to.
There’s nothing like real-world feedback to let you know which topics ring true with your audience and which don’t.
#3 – Speaking Establishes You as an Expert
People make value judgments, and if you’re speaking in front of a specific group about your passions, then you MUST be an expert, right? While writing a book can also establish you as an expert, there’s something about standing up in front of a crowd that solidifies you in that “expert” light.
Speaking engagements in your professional area or your book’s niche will earn you professional credibility within that community. Your perceived authority and prestige will be boosted by your association with the event you choose to speak at.
#4 – Speaking Fees Generate Income
Speaking fees can add up when you consistently book speaking engagements. If you do it enough, speaking can become a significant income stream for you as an author. In fact, speaking fees can even surpass the money you make from book sales.
The more speaking engagements you book, the higher the rate you can demand for your services. The more you speak, the better you’ll be at it, thereby opening the door to lucrative engagements, like keynote speaking at large events.
#5 – Speaking Gigs Sell More Books
If you knock it out of the park with your speech, you’ll have attendees clamoring to buy your book. “Back of the room” sales can boost your book’s success!
Sign, smile and meet your fans, and you’ll make money while feeling like a rock star in the process.
#6 – Becoming a Speaker Broadens Your Network
Public speaking enables you to connect with your existing fans and create new ones. If you make a connection with your speech, and you take the time to develop a relationship by answering questions and signing books, you’re marketing yourself, your brand and your books.
By extension, this type of marketing will result in your fans talking about you to other potential fans. The word will spread that you’re a speaker who must be heard, and an author who must be read. Leverage these connections by collecting emails at your speaking engagements so you can follow up on future speaking dates and book releases.
#7 – Speech Writing Lets You Test New Ideas
Perhaps you have a cool new idea for a blog post or a book topic? Write up a speech and try it out during a small speaking engagement, before committing it to print. This is how big-time comedians test their material: a surprise appearance at a tiny venue. They get to see the audience’s reaction to what they’re saying up close so they can refine their messaging.
CDs, DVDs, courses, and workshops: All of these options are secondary sources of income from your book and your role as a speaker. The more prolific you become as a speaker, the more marketable your additional revenue streams will become.
Even if you start off speaking for free to 10 students at the local community college, your speaking career can evolve to higher levels. If you’ve recently been published in a well-known publication, had a media appearance or hit a best-seller list, you can up your speaking engagement fee and product prices accordingly.
You may now be convinced that it’s time for you to you dust off your shoes and hit the public speaking circuit to sell more books, but the question remains, how do you become a motivational speaker? Where do you start and how can you guarantee success?
5 Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker
Becoming a public speaker can launch your books to the next level and add credibility to your author brand. Sometimes there’s nothing that screams “expert!” louder than seeing someone give a speech on stage to an attentive audience.
However, if it was easy to become a speaker, then everyone would do it. We’re not going to sugar coat this: Becoming a speaker can be tough, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. But, we’ve made things a bit simpler by putting together five steps that you can follow to get started on your speaking journey.
#1 – Improve your speaking skills
You’re getting into the field of speaking to build credibility and heighten your audience’s perception of you as an expert.
But, there is no quicker way for your audience to think you don’t know what you’re talking about than to bomb on stage.
If your talk is filled with lots of “ums” and “ahs,” you get flustered when the microphone stops working, or you speak really fast, your audience will lose confidence in your message faster than they can say “refund.”
Before you run you first have to learn how to walk, and before you can fill out a room and sell more books, you first have to learn effective public speaking skills. You need to learn the right tone of voice, perfect your body language and hone your speaking abilities.
You can do this by joining your local Toastmasters club for practice and by watching lots of motivational speeches by successful speakers. Find a speaker’s style that you like and see how you can adapt your own speaking style to match.
#2 – Network Like You Mean It
To get better at speaking, and potentially build a speaking business around your book, you’re going to have to meet other speakers. Only they have the know-how of the industry in your local market and know the names of agents and venues that can land you speaking gigs.
Meeting inspirational speakers will not only improve your speaking skills, it will in turn inspire you on your speaking journey. Any self-employed project can be disheartening, and you’ll need all the inspiration you can get, so network like it’s your job.
Ask your friends and family if they know anyone with public speaking experience. Find and join your local Speakers Bureau and the National Speakers Association.
Networking will also introduce you to something else that can fast track your success.
#3 – Get a Mentor
Often as writers we avoid any formal or informal training. We choose to be self-taught instead of seeking training or mentorship. This can be fine, as some of the best writers in the world were self-taught. However, many other crafts require you get a helping hand before you succeed.
Can you picture Rocky Balboa without Micky? Harry Potter without Dumbledore? Or Thoreau without Emerson? It’s not possible. There’s no way any of these characters or writers could have undergone their personal development journey without a mentor, and you’ll need the same in your speaking journey.
Speaking is still a “who’s who” type of industry. There isn’t a formal marketplace for speaking gigs and speakers. Mentors can help you get a leg up and introduce you to speaking gigs if they think you have potential.
#4 – Invest in Yourself Up Front
Before college we have to go to high school, before high school we go to junior high, and before junior high we go to elementary school. You can’t go straight from elementary to college. Sure, there are some geniuses who get to skip all of that, but those happen once or twice in a generation. The rest of us mere mortals have to go through each stage.
Public speaking is the same. If you stick at it, continue to improve, build your network and your reputation, there will come a day where your inbox will be filled with lucrative speaking opportunities. However, before you get there, you need to invest in yourself. And that involves giving lots of free speeches.
Take up any speaking gig you can find. Whether it be at local events that match your book’s topic or speaking to college students who are studying something related to your work, land any free speaking gig you can.
Most great speakers succeeded because they were in it for the long term and weren’t ashamed to take free or low-paying gigs in the beginning. They knew they were investing in their future. Adopt this mindset and instead of thinking of free speaking gigs as a burden, you might start to become excited to do them.
But don’t speak for free for too long. The next step is crucial.
#5 – Have a Marketing Plan
Think about your cliché pirate story. There’s swashbuckling pirates, the one-eyed baddie, the seven seas and what else? Treasure, of course!
And how do they find the treasure? With a treasure map! Even though they brave the fierce seas, battle sea monsters and put down crew mutinies, the protagonist in a pirate story is confident they’ll find the treasure eventually because they’re following a treasure map.
You have to do the same with a marketing plan. In case you didn’t notice from everything else we’ve mentioned in this article, speaking is competitive. In order to see success, you’ll not only have to differentiate yourself from other good speakers, you’ll need to have a focused and consistent effort to get the word out there to potential clients.
A marketing plan will help you with all of this. Often newbie speakers use a “hope and pray” approach to marketing, or follow their latest creative marketing idea, and this is why they fail. You cannot fall for this trap. Having a solid marketing plan will keep you focused, give you room for continual improvement and help you discard what isn’t working.
Have you ever seen an Amazon book description that looked absolutely stellar? Nice big words, perfect layout, well structured? What am I saying? Of course you have!
Well, there’s a secret to how those self-publishers are making it look that way. They’re using Amazon’s approved HTML in their product description. That’s right, they’re coding it to look that way and you can, too.
By adding a little code in the editor when writing your book description, your sentences can now be bold, underlined, or even bigger in size.
Here’s what we’ll cover about how to write Amazon book descriptions:
Having an eye-catching book description is critical to marketing your book. After all, why would your potential buyers read your tantalizing book description and click “buy” if it’s ugly to look at?
By adding some code here and there, we can craft your book description to catch the attention of your audience and improve conversion rates.
As you can see, there is a clear difference between a well-structured book description using basic HTML and a book description that just uses plain text.
It isn’t as simple as writing it in a Word document then copying and pasting it into Amazon.ope. That well-formatted beauty requires a little HTML-love in the text editor.
I’m going to show you exactly how you can tap into this, even if you know nothing about HTML or CSS. I’ll even introduce you to a free book description tool that will help you build beautiful, eye-catching summaries so that your book will stand out and get even more customers.
Amazon Book Description Tips
Lucky for us, we can use special snippets of code in our Amazon listings to access their font styles. All you need to do is type the right things around the sentences in your product description to make the words stand out and look great.
However, there’s a limit to what we can do. Even though we can use HTML, it isn’t like eBay where you can make flashy banners, pretty tables and style your product description with your web design kung-fu. There are restrictions on what we can and can’t do.
Emphasizes the enclosed text; generally formatted as italic.
Determines the appearance of the enclosed text.
<h1> to <h6>
Formats enclosed text as a section heading: <h1> (largest) through <h6> (smallest).
Creates a horizontal “rule” or line. Often used to divide sections of text.
Formats enclosed text as italic.
Identifies an item in an ordered (numbered) or unordered (bulleted) list.
Creates a numbered list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag.
Defines a paragraph of text with the first line indented; creates a line break at the end of the enclosed text.
Defines preformatted text.
Formats text as strikethrough. See also: <strike>
Formats text as strikethrough. See also: <s>
Formats enclosed text as bold. See also: <b>
Formats enclosed text as subscript: reduces the font size and drops it below the baseline.
Formats enclosed text as superscript: reduces the font size and places it above the baseline.
Formats enclosed text as underlined.
Creates a bulleted list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what all that means. I’ll show you.
To get your words to do the above, all you need to do is sandwich your sentence or words with the <fill in the code> above and end your sentence or word with </fill in the code>.
So, for instance, if you wanted to add a bit of code to the sentence, “My book is the best thing you’ve ever read,” you would type into the editor:
<fill in the code>My book is the best thing you’ve ever read.</fill in the code>
(Don’t write “fill in the code”—instead, use the cheat sheet above to see what letters will make the change you’re seeking.)
HTML Examples for Each Tag
Now that you know how to wrap a tag around a sentence and which HTML tag you can use, let’s go through each one, apply it and see how it will look on the U.S. Amazon market.
Header Font Size
To get the words to be larger, you’ll need to use the Header Tags which are <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>. The H1 tag is the largest; H6 is the smallest.
Let’s see what they look like when wrapped around a word:
To make a sentence or word bold, all you need to do is wrap that word or sentence with <b></b>
Like this: Self-Publishing School is <b>amazing</b>.
To italicize a word, you can use either <i> or <em>.
Like this: Self-Publishing School is <i>amazing</i>.
Underline uses <u></u>.
Like this: Self-Publishing School is <u>amazing</u>.
If you want to separate some text with a horizontal line (also called a line break), all you have to do is add <hr> and it will look like this:
There are two types of lists: ordered lists and unordered lists. Ordered lists are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Unordered lists use bullet points.
Unordered are denoted at the beginning using <ul> and their structure looks like this:
<ul><li>Unordered Item One</li>
<li>Unordered Item Two</li>
<li>Unordered Item Three</li>
Ordered Lists are denoted by the <ol> and their structure looks like this:
<li>Ordered Item One</li>
<li>Ordered Item Two</li>
<li>Ordered Item Three</li>
HTML Tags You Can’t Use
So, what can’t you do in your book’s HTML description?
Well, you can’t do anything with images, like you can with normal HTML. You can’t insert images into your book description, nor set a background image. But who would want to do that? That’s what your book cover is for.
Anyone familiar with HTML will also know its cousin, CSS. You can’t use CSS with a Kindle description. So no fancy new fonts, font colors or CSS styles for any Kindle-specific summary you’re crafting.
Quick Word on Special Characters
Though it isn’t necessary, you can use trademark and copyright symbols in your book description by using the following code:
Hand-coding your own book description can be tedious. That’s why I designed a special free software that lets you see in real time what your description will look like. It’s called the Amazon Book Description Generator.
Just type in or copy and paste your book description, and with a few clicks, you can make it look the way you want it.
Once you’ve gotten it the way you like, just click “Get My Code” button and it will automatically create the HTML code you need for Amazon.
Then take that code, go to the KDP bookshelf and update your book’s description.
Examples of Well-Formatted Book Descriptions
To get your creative juices flowing, here are some examples of other books that have used book description formatting on their product page and taken it to the next level:
Chandler Bolt’s “Book Launch”: It’s clean, and effectively uses the “bold” feature to highlight the most important words. That way, those who skim the description will immediately see the parts that Chandler wants them to see.
Patrick King’s “Conversation Tactics”: This is one of the most effective uses of underlining as well as bullet points to neatly organize information. Patrick rocked his final sentence, the call to action. It leaves a strong lasting impression—and how can you NOT see it?
Steve Scott’s “Email Marketing Blueprint”: Here’s another well-laid-out description that highlights the right spots and makes it easy on the eyes. My favorite part about his book description is the first paragraph, which shows up even before the customer clicks “read more.” Steve has made it so that his most eye-catching hook is featured right smack dab at the top of his sales page. Nice move.
Get Our Feedback on Your Description
Now that you know what is allowed by Amazon, how to code HTML for book descriptions and have a cool free tool that will do it for you, it’s time you get started on creating your book descriptions.
Remember, making a well-formatted book description will not only make your product listing more professional, it’ll be sure to hook your potential readers.
So get started now! Use the free tool in this article to bypass the hassle of using HTML code and make a gorgeous book description today.
Once you’ve created a savvy-looking book description, comment below with your book’s link, and I’ll check it out and respond.
Researching for a book, while super important in the process of publishing a book, is difficult and if you’re not careful, it can stop you from finishing at all.
The phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of students.
What if you didn’t write enough? What if all the answers are wrong? Too bad; you’re stuck with your final essay. There’s no going back.
There’s something about the finality of closing the door on any knowledge work that’s tough. We don’t want to miss anything—whether it’s a witty quote or that perfect case study. The same with writing books—ending your research and starting your draft is daunting.
It’s possible to go on researching forever, really. Countless book ideas remain unwritten and unpublished because the writer is just looking for that perfect piece of research. But with that attitude, you’ll never publish your book!
Here’s what we’ll cover for how to research for writing a book:
We’re not asking you to abandon the research process. Virtually all non-fiction work and most fiction works require at least some research to complete a final draft, but it does require moderation.
This post is split into two parts. First, we’ll show you how to carry out a comprehensive research process in as little time as possible, then we’ll show you how to fine-tune your research once you begin drafting your book.
The Research Process
Many writers fail to publish or even begin drafting their books because they’re stuck in the research process. Here we’ll show you three critical steps you can take to make your research as thorough as possible, and to avoid the trap that many writers fall into–researching their books forever.
#1 – Plan Your Research
Research is a necessary part of writing, and with some genres (e.g. historical fiction), it’s impossible to start without research. However, before you pick a single book or open a new tab in the name of research, there is something you have to do: Plan your research.
In academia, there’s an entire subject called research design, which teaches researchers how to choose their research methods, scope out their timeline and outline their research process. Professional researchers have to plan out their research before they carry out any research. Not only does this tick the check boxes for funding, but it also helps them stay on track and ensure their research project is valid.
Notice what they don’t do.
A researcher doesn’t just blindly pick up a book and follow where their gut tells them (though this does make up part of the process) or start experimenting and follow what’s interesting. First, they plan, set a specific end date, and then execute.
Instead of approaching your book research in an ad-hoc manner, putting in research time when you feel it’s warranted, we advise that you design your research process.
We’re not asking you to leave no room for spontaneity, often the best ideas come from the most unlikely of sources, but there should still be some structure to your research so, you don’t waste any of your precious time.
Remember many writers have still not begun their manuscript years after they started working on their book because they’re “still researching.”
You want to avoid this trap.
This means you should set a clear end date for your research process, where you promise you’ll start drafting no matter how little, how much, or what kind of data you’ve gathered. It also means that before you start, you think about where you’ll gather your research from, and how much you’ll gather.
As interesting as a side tangent can be, you don’t want to wander too far. Keep your research focused on the subject matter. If something seems interesting, note it down for the future. Maybe it could be your next book.
#2 – Outsource Your Research When Possible
Often, writing feels like a solitary endeavor, after all, it is just you and yourself staring at a screen, tapping away at a keyboard for hours on end. But just because it feels like a lonely mission, doesn’t mean it has to be one. Especially in research.
No matter your subject, there’s an almost certain chance that someone else has done the heavy lifting for you.
Someone who has immersed themselves in the field, found the dead ends, the wrong turns and the secret passageways. So why not tap into their knowledge?
When thinking of where to begin your research, tap into the human capital available before books or the internet. Are there any professors at your local college you can ask? Any editors in your domain that you can first reach out to? A great place to find names are the references used in journal articles or the authors of literature reviews and book reviews.
By asking them for help you can save yourself miles of wasted research, get an expert’s perspective on the topic (differentiating yourself from many other self-published books), and save yourself time.
Often, as long as they don’t have a demanding schedule, they’ll be happy to respond to an email or two.
Don’t forget to remember them in your acknowledgements!
#3 – Ignore Your Inner Perfectionist
There’s a chance that if you’ve always wanted to write a book, you’ve got a perfectionist streak. And when it comes to book research, you’ll want to keep it under control.
You want to be a laser beam in your research. Focus on the best books for the keywords you’ve identified and don’t get sidetracked. Practical research is the key–find facts and data that will make your book more interesting, not analysis that you find interesting.
It might not necessarily be the same thing.
This also comes in when you’re writing your book. Ignore the temptation to include all the research found in your book. Often 20% of your research efforts will form 80% of your book.
If you found some piece of research you’re just dying to get out there, maybe package and release it as a bonus eBook for the thorough minded amongst your audience (and build your email list,) or have it in the appendix of your kindle edition.
7 Killer Tips on Researching Your Book
Now that you know the critical steps to carry out your book research, it’s time to look at ways to improve it. Some of these will save you time during the research process, others will help you to finish your manuscript as fast as possible, and yet give you that sense of completeness and thoroughness once it’s done.
#1 – “Backload” Research
There’s a secret to mastering the craft of research when writing your book that might strike you as controversial:
Write first, fact-find second.
You may think that’s odd, but first hear us out. Consider this scenario: You’re working on your draft and you hit a spot where you feel stuck. You don’t know the answer to a question that arises in your manuscript, so you switch over to Google and start poking around for the answer.
Soon you find yourself wandering around the internet as if you came into a room to find something, but you can’t for the life of you remember what it was.
And here is where you find yourself at the end of your writing time–watching cat videos– and you don’t even like cats.
The problem with researching while you’re writing is that you squash your momentum. Your draft will take longer to finish and it will be harder to write if you need to jump out of your writing mindset to switch over to research.
The solution: Don’t research at all once you’ve started writing until your rough draft is finished.
#2 – “TK” is Your Friend
Here’s an editorial trick:
When you hit an impasse in your draft and you’re tempted to look something up, whether that’s a quote, a proper name, or details about a location, mark that TBD spot with the letters “TK.”
TK annotates a spot in your draft to return to when it’s time to research.
Then keep writing!
Why the letters “TK”? There are no words in the English language that have the letters “TK” next to each other, making it easy for you to use the Control+F command to find your TBD spot later on.
By setting aside your research for later, you can keep moving on your draft and fill in the small details later.
This prevents you from taking up all your time with research and avoiding writing.
#3 – Turn off the Internet
Turn off the Internet while you’re writing. Madness, you say? Well, why do you need the Internet? You’re going to do your research when you’re done writing, so the Internet is just distracting you. Write now. Google later.
Some pro writers say they like to take their laptop to a locale with no Wi-Fi so there’s zero temptation. Try an Internet desert for a day or two and see if it improves your writing pace.
#4 – Keep it Organized
When you find a key piece of research, file it so you can track it down later. Whether you do this with a virtual folder on your laptop, an actual folder in your desk, or with a tool like Evernote or Scrivener, the idea is the same.
You need to compile all your resources together in one place so you can find it later.
Organization now will make adding research to your manuscript later easier and quicker. When your draft is done, you can put your hands on your resources right away.
#5 – Red Text Marks the Spot
If you’re humming along in your draft and hit the crossroads of a quote or stat, switch your text color to red to highlight that you need to come back. Red text marks the spot that needs later attention and you can keep drafting.
Of course, if you used the “TK” tip above you don’t need this step, because then you can just use Control+F to find where you placed “TK” in your draft.
However, the red text will give you a visual STOP so you know this is an area that needs more research just by looking at it. Call it extra insurance so you don’t miss anything.
#6 – Hired Guns
There’s no shame in outsourcing the manual work of research. For the most cost-effective resource, consider a college intern. When looking for interns, make sure they have a background in your field. If your book is about demographic trends then look for qualitative researchers, perhaps someone with a major in the social sciences.
If, however, you need to do some number crunching then look for some more quantitative oriented interns.
Or, if you need to hire a pro, look to Upwork to find a good researcher—be sure to check ratings and consider giving applicants a short test to make sure they’re up for the task.
#7 – Add it All In
Batching your work is a trick of the productive. By segmenting what you need to get done, you maintain focus without the need to switch from unrelated task to unrelated task. When your first draft is finished, return to the designated areas that required research, which you marked with “TK” or red text. Fill in these gaps and add in all your research at once.
Researching a book can be tricky, and you definitely don’t want it to derail your progress. With these steps, we make it easy.