Building a Local Readership – #PublicSpeaking #Marketing

Book Signing Party, Enterprise Museum, January 25, 2020

Hi, Everyone! Marcia here again. Hope this finds each of you safe, healthy, and happy for this first week in August.


Today, I want to chat a bit about my favorite way to get your books in front of more readers, always a thorny problem for most of us. If there is one universal truth writers share, especially self-published writers, it would probably be this: WE HATE MARKETING!




For most of us, marketing is far harder than writing our stories, is nowhere near as much fun, and usually involves a ton of work we don’t enjoy doing. But let’s face it, folks –it’s a necessary evil.


If people don’t know about our books, they can’t find our books. And if they can’t find our books, they can’t buy our books.

It’s as simple as that.



What follows is a story about me. But it could be a story about you. I’m going to tell you how I managed to build a solid group of local readers who support me in more ways than I can count, including buying my books, and introducing others to them. I hope as you read along you’ll see just what I mean about this possibly becoming your story, too.

Let me say right off that I am NOT an expert on any aspect of marketing, especially via social media or more traditional methods. But I have had some success on the local scene. It turns out meeting readers and talking to audiences in my area has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. It  has also resulted in plenty of book sales, too, both at in-person events and later, online.

If you haven’t tried your hand at this, you could be missing out on something that can be both fun and profitable for you, too. It’s also something that can be tailored to your own skills and individual interests, as well. Of course, there are lots of ways to go about introducing yourself and your work to the good citizens of your own communities, but today I’m going to share what’s worked for me, along with a few things that I hope will encourage some of you pursue this avenue, too.

How I Got Started

St. Johns River Eco Tours

Shortly after I published my second book, Swamp Ghosts, the couple that inspired my main characters “adopted me,” and took me along on several of their eco-tour cruises aboard their boat, the Naiad. Because my book contained passages about the river and wildlife, they would anchor halfway through the tour and introduce me to the passengers for a short Q&A session on Swamp Ghosts and on wildlife in general, which complemented their already extensive knowledge. Before long, local book clubs were reserving seats for special Meet the Author tours, and I’d sell books afterward, when we returned to the docks. And that’s how it all started.

Meet the Author Tour on the St. Johns River

These good folks, Doug Little and Jeanne Bell, introduced me to other good folks at the elegant DeBary Hall Historic Site, and they invited me to give a talk there about writing and self-publishing.

DeBary Hall

That one went over much better than I ever imagined, and before long I was doing regular presentations at the Hall. One introduction led to another, and soon I was doing talks at the charming Enterprise Museum, as well. (The museum is a  beautifully restored 1930s era schoolhouse, and a lovely, nostalgic place to visit.)

Enterprise Heritage Museum

I figured I was on to a good thing, so in order to meet as many new potential readers as possible, I broadened my subject matter widely. Today, I speak most often about the fabulous wildlife of Central Florida, tailoring my presentations toward animals, birds, and habitats lots of folks have a real interest in.

It’s a subject I’m fairly knowledgeable about due to decades of hiking and canoeing throughout the state, and several years of working with Florida Audubon, back “in the day.”  I put together each chat as a PowerPoint presentation, complete with basic facts, interesting but little known tidbits, and plenty of excellent photos. These talks have been surprisingly well received, and as a bonus, I always sell some books afterward. 


I still do talks on writing related subjects, too, including one I did for the 100th Anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution …




… and both of these venues let me host spring and autumn teas, as well. I include a short reading and some Q&A, but mostly we just schmooze and have fun.  (Here we are in the restored classroom at the Enterprise Museum. No idea why I was looking so stern. Maybe someone was slurping their tea. 🙂 )



Between these two main venues, and various local book clubs and the like, I usually have from one to three talks booked every month.  Now,  these aren’t massive crowds, though DeBary Hall does have room for 75 or so in the auditorium, and around 100 in the converted stable area.  But trust me. I sell print books after each talk, and more importantly, these good folks come back again and again. Plus they spread the word not only about my talks, but about my books, as well. That translates into folks who become friends, audiences who give me wonderful feedback and support, and future online sales.

I would also like to say that the folks on staff at both of my main venues are absolutely wonderful to work with. They do all they can to make sure I have everything I need for my talks. Combine their friendly, professional courtesy with the fun of meeting new folks (and potential new readers), and it’s an absolute joy to be doing these. 

How You Can Get Started

While you might not be lucky enough to have an eco-tour boat owner eager to jump start the process for you, there are still lots of speaking options available to you. Here are my suggestions for ways to give this a try.

FIRST: Research various local places where you can create opportunities to meet new readers. Libraries,  book clubs, retirement complexes, community centers, and social clubs are good places to start. Some will let you sell your books, and some will not, but even without on-site book sales, the important thing is to sell yourself. You will almost always be able to give out brochures, bookmarks, business cards, and the like. And if you connect with interested readers face to face, they will find your books on their own.

SECOND: Consider exactly what you want to talk about. Programs about writing in general (and your books specifically) can be very popular. Talks about self-publishing go over well, too. There are always folks who want to give writing a try, but have no idea how to take the first step, and you can point them in the right direction. You don’t have to be an expert to share what has worked for you. And you can follow up by advising audiences to do some research of their own, as well, so they can see how other authors approach things.

THIRD:  Don’t forget any areas of personal expertise you’d like to share.  Are you an expert gardener? A scholar of local or national history? A gourmet cook or talented photographer? Put together a program on something like that and you’ll attract an even broader audience, including potential new readers, as well as history buffs or budding gardeners. Possible topics abound!

In short, there is nothing quite like meeting readers face to face, and getting first hand feedback on what they like—or don’t like—about your books. And there’s definitely nothing more inspirational than having readers come up to you and ask when the next book in your series is coming out.  It’ll keep you smiling for days afterward, I promise! 


Have any of you tried some local readership building, and if so, how did it go for you? What worked and what didn’t? If you haven’t yet taken the plunge,  do you think you might look into doing something similar to what I’ve tried? Thoughts or questions? Let us hear from you below! As always, inquiring minds wanna know. 

Now go forth  with happy hearts to try a presentation or two! Your readers will love meeting you!


(All images above were used with written permission, created by me,
or obtained from Pixabay.) 

77 thoughts on “Building a Local Readership – #PublicSpeaking #Marketing

    • It does take some time, but with every new person you pull into the “fold,” come some of their friends and family, too. It spreads faster than you might imagine, plus it’s FUN, and good for your soul. 🙂 I come home from these events inspired to write even more. And having to stay isolated for the last 7+ months has taught me just how important that personal contact is for my own well-being. Cancelling most of my scheduled talks for this year left me very unhappy. We are just now finally looking at ways to get started again, with safety protocols in place and a limited number of attendees allowed. But I cant wait for things to go back to normal, so I can get out to see my friends again, and share more fun presentations with them. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Very good article! Reading my recent children’s book to elementary classes was honestly one of the most rewarding opportunities I have had as an author. That being said, it is important not to grow complacent with the satisfaction of events you have already attended or hosted– we always have to be looking ahead at what’s the next opportunity. That is a challenge for writers! Especially as we continue to write other works… it’s like having one child in diapers, one in high school, and being pregnant all at the same time! Each book baby has its own needs depending on its stage, and authorhood has both its exhilarating and exhausting aspects!

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    • Very true. Which is why I do several talks a month during healthy times, and always have all of my books there. I answer questions on each of them, and spend some time afterward selling/signing books or just discussing plots and characters and what I’m up to next. So far, it’s been very rewarding on many levels. Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diana! I plan to show your comment to my husband. He’s not convinced yet. 😀

      I do hope you’ll read this again and think of ways you can add some events to your marketing plans. You don’t have to do as many as I often do, but even a couple a year will be good for you, will impress your readers, and will be well worth the effort. And if you are the type who gets “stage fright,” do what I do. Never use a stage! 😀 I like being able to walk back and forth in front of the group so I can make eye contact with everyone at some point, and going up and down the aisles now and then to answer a guest’s questions, or even ask some of my own. That type of thing changes the dynamics from ME talking to THEM, to an informal group chat among friendly folks.

      Oh, and one more thing. These folks aren’t college kids forced to sit through a boring lecture they hate in order to get credit. They’re only there because they want to be, and they come hoping to learn something new and interesting. They aren’t critics or reviewers, either, but rather folks who are ready to like you and your program. That has made a huge difference in how I feel when I’m talking to them. It’s FUN, honest. Let me know if you decide to try something similar, and good luck if you do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I never get stage fright, Marcia. It’s more the effort to set things up (I’m a lazy person by nature – lol). And since I live in the wilderness everything involves hours of travel. But those are all excuses, I’ll admit it! Yes, I will read again and two per year should be manageable! ;-D

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      • Now that I can really identify with! I have a tendency toward what I call cocooning, and will sometimes go a couple of weeks without leaving the house. And that was BEFORE having to isolate for COVID. I’ve been at home for six months now, and it’s going to be tricky to convince myself to get back out into the world at large again. But it’s not safe enough around these parts for that yet, and my main venues are still closed, too. 😦 I do long for those lovely chances to visit with friends and readers, though. They always make it worth while.

        I’m going to be very interested in hearing how everything goes once you decide to leave your wilderness home and do some events. Please be sure to share. If you enjoy them half as much as I enjoy mine, you’ll be so glad you drove those miles and did all that setting up. 🙂


    • It did me, too, Debby. Until I figured out I was just chatting with individual folks, and not some many-headed monster out to get me. And once they started laughing at my jokes, I was home free, and have enjoyed every single talk since. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope maybe someday you take it step by step like I did, and find out how much fun it is. 🙂

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      • Oh I know I just need the push or a hand to hold for the first bit Marsh, then I’m good to go as I am an extrovert – but one who likes to blend into the party, not centered out as the speaker to all lol 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • I understand completely. That’s why I suggested (below) to start by singling out one friendly face to talk to at a time. Then you gradually add more, until you feel more at ease, and realize you aren’t speaking to an audience. You’re speaking to 20 (40, 75, whatever) new, separate and distinct, friends. It really works.

        Another good thing is not to get on a stage. Instead, stand in front, but also walk among the folks to chat face to face with them, just like you would at a party. You can stop by someone and ask a question, like “Is there something particular you’re hoping to find out today?” Then it’s like mingling at a party, instead of being center stage.

        Things like that keep the audience more like a room full of friends, which is your goal. If I couldn’t do that, I’d probably never do a presentation. I like to get to know folks, and be able to recognize them when they come back another time.


  2. Wow. I am so impressed. And inspired. I’m also shy, but coupled with that I’m a good speaker (go figure). I need to get myself “out there” more (although not now of course with Covid). I have spoken at some libraries (local ones in MA and in CA) and LOVED doing that, sold lots of books, and had amazing support from the library. I really enjoy talking to book groups, and just need to promote myself (my books) more to other book groups. And I’ve spoken at some women “soirees” which is great fun, but in those cases, the head of those groups found me. I’ve enjoyed reading how you started talking to one group and it took off after that. FABULOUS.

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    • So glad you enjoyed the post, Pam! And you’ve already got a jump start on doing this kind of thing. Once it’s safe to go out again, you’ll be all set to give it a try. So many opportunities out there, and each one of them a chance to make new readers while having a good time. It’s been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope to be able to get back to it very soon!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking a few minutes to let us know about your experiences. So glad they were positive ones! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. You go, girl! Nice to “see” you, Marcia. I built a local readership by appearing at the same venues year after year. Now, readers know where to find me and come to buy the latest book(s) every year. A rural area is a little trickier to get started. It’s important to create a list a venues and add or subtract the venues that work/don’t work. Libraries are hit or miss. I’ve culled my list down to only two. BUT this doesn’t mean other authors shouldn’t try them. In my area they don’t work well, is all. I’ve found amazing crowds at Old Home Days, and I’m usually the only author there, so that brings a lot of attention. An author friend of mine sets up in hospital lobbies (pre-COVID) and she does well. Like you, Marcia, it’s important that we think outside the box.

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    • Hi, Sue! So nice to see you here today. I was just saying the other day that the biggest thing I missed (besides my family of course) since deleting my FB account due to hacking was your visits now and then, and being able to see what you were sharing. And I will never forget that you took the time to answer a forensic question for me back when I was writing The Light.

      I’m not at all surprised that you have this local readership thing down. And I agree with your comments 100%. It’s about finding the venues in your area that will work best for you, and that can vary from place to place, and author to author. I’ve spoken at one or two public venues that seem to work well for some, but just weren’t the right fit for me. And I’ve only done one book fair. For some reason, there never seem to be any in our area–central Florida. Go figger. But I’d definitely do more if I had the chance. Bigger crowds, more folks to chat with, and no need (usually) to prepare a program.

      I’ve not actually tried our libraries, though it’s on my list if I decide to expand. But I lucked out the first time around and got three really fun places to visit, one of which can handle a larger audience. But the other two have their own draws. The little museum is cozy and intimate, and allows you to tailor your presentation to the folks who come. More one-on-one question time, for instance. And the boat tours are just so much fun, I’d go if there were only one passenger on board. Heck, I’d go with just the crew. It’s always wonderful to get out on that river. Between them, I’m not sure I can take on more right now, other than the occasional private book club. But I still keep my ideas ready, in case I want to expand.

      Let’s always keep thinking outside the box, Sue. Inside is way too boring! 😀 And I’m so pleased that you stopped by to share your experiences. Thanks so much! 🙂

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  4. Who really likes talking about themself? Not many people I know. Well, maybe the President.🤣 I don’t have that much experience, but I do know that to get any attention, a person sometimes has to get out of their comfort zone. The only thing worse than self-promotion for most people is some form of public speaking. As a former shy kid, I know how empowering it is to conquer that fear. Good for you to have the confidence to give it a shot, Marcia. As you well know, it gets easier the more times you do it.

    I have a teaching background, so my public speaking experience has helped me., although speaking in front of your peers is a whole different ballgame than talking to kids. People connect with anyone who demonstrates humor, courage, and vulnerability. I encourage everyone to push the envelope. You might surprise yourself, and there is nothing quite as powerful as how we feel about ourselves.

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    • Exactly so, Pete. I’m not an introvert by any means, but standing in front of a group of people I don’t know was always tough for me. Until I realized that they were each one a potential new friend, and I’m never shy about meeting folks one on one. So that’s how I approached it. And before I knew what was happening, I loved it. It’s like getting together for lunch with a group of friends now, with the added chance of meeting new ones and making new readers. I don’t talk about myself much, other than an introduction to who I am and how I got to this point in my life (for the new faces in the group.) But if I’m asked, I do. And if the subject is writing, I start general and then get specific.

      Humor does it every time, as you say. And reminding people it’s not to late for them to make their own dreams come true is part of what I tell them, too. Because who doesn’t have unfulfilled dreams? And truly, it’s not too late to go after them for most of us–unless their dream was to become a famous child actor. (That ship has likely sailed, but it gets a laugh, anyway.) 😀

      Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us your thoughts, and reminding folks that pushing the envelope is usually a good thing! 🙂

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      • Great comments! I take my inspiration from wherever I can find it. I don’t know that much of your story, but I do know that you decided to start writing later in life. That’s the path I’m taking. Much luck to you.

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      • Good for you! Yes, I wrote my first book at 69, and now, at 76, I have 7 novels, 3 (almost) novellas, and a book of poetry out there. Not necessarily mind-boggling brilliance, perhaps, but they’ve found an audience here and there, and that’s what I care about. Telling my stories, and knowing some folks enjoy them. And I love that you are on the same path, only perhaps WITH mind-boggling brilliance! 😀

        Rocking chairs, schmocking chairs! Who needs ’em? 😀 Best wishes with your endeavors, Pete! 🙂


  5. This one-on-one method of marketing is just another of the many things COVID-19 has squashed for now. Book festivals, book stores, and any other events are my favorite places to talk about my books! There is nothing better than engaging with a potential reader and having them walk away with a book! Thanks for sharing, Marcia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are definitely on the same page about that, Jan. You learn what readers like and don’t like, for one thing. Plus, meeting fans is a HUGE lift, even on the worst of days! And if you listen to their comments, you often get new ideas about the direction you might want to take a story or character in future books.

      Having them actually buy books (and ask you to sign them) is the icing on the cake. I cannot wait for things to simmer down enough that it’s safe to start scheduling talks again. Some momentum may be lost, but at the same time, lots of people are going to be itching to get back out and do the things they were enjoying before the shutdown. It’s going to be BLISS to have that part of my life back again! I know you’ll feel the same way.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts today, Jan! 🙂

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  6. Both you and Judith have encouraged me to go out into the community and I’ve been resistant at first. I really, really suck at self-promotion! However, I used to be a teacher and I’ve taught adult education classes and enjoyed the buzz they give me. Once I realised that I could give a talk on anything vaguely related and have my books there in case anyone was interested, I thought I’d give it a go. My local library were really keen for me to do an evening that they’d promote with posters and publicity. Then everything went into lockdown… However, the first steps have been taken and I’m going to bookmark this to refer to when the time is right – thanks!

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    • Way to go, Trish! And don’t think of it as talking about yourself. You can slip in that sort of stuff along the way. Even if writing is your topic, you can talk all sorts of things: famous authors you admire, local subjects that have inspired books, how to get started with self-publishing, the joys of the editing process (hahaha). There are lots of things to talk about, fitting you and your work into the theme as appropriate. Before you know it, it doesn’t feel odd to be telling people about yourself at all.

      And I’m really glad to hear about your library’s interest. That will be a fine place to get going. Once you forget about yourself and start enjoying the new friends in the audience, it will get easier every time. I agree with Judith. You can do this. Don’t even worry about self-promotion. Just talk about something you’re passionate about. Writing, or mysteries, or local history. You get my drift, I’m sure. That will sell you to your audience just fine, and they’ll ask specific questions at various points, too, which will allow a bit more on you and what you’ve done.

      I’ll be waiting to hear how everything goes, once we are able to move forward in public again. Good luck!

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  7. Great post, Marcia! A while back you inspired me to get out there and I had a great time with my first presentation at a local library/cultural center. Had lots of bookings for spring and summer, but all postponed due to Covid-19. Will be sure to follow up as soon as it’s safe and community gatherings are back in the swing! Thanks, Marcia! Without your inspiring post and encouragement this would not have happened!

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    • I thought about you while I was putting this together, Bette. I’m so sad that just as you were getting started (and loving it), we got shut down, due to that Virus that I can’t even stand to type the name of anymore. GAH. But this, too, shall pass, and we’ll be able to resume our presentations, all the more eagerly for having been made to wait so long.

      And I’m SO happy that my encouragement helped you take that first step. Wish I could come see you in action! Thanks so much for stopping by and letting folks know that it worked for you. And I truly hope it won’t be too much longer before we can get out there again! 🙂 ❤

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      • It turned out to be a most wonderful evening and through that one night I booked four more presentations! Can’t wait to be able to get back in the swing of things! 🙂 Stay safe and well, dear Marcia! By the way, I’ve fallen in LOVE with RABBIT! Review will be coming soon… xo

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      • That’s so cool, Bette! And I know that just as soon as things are safe again, you’ll get right back to it, and be a great success! I’m very happy that you enjoyed it so much, and, of course, the audience always picks up on that. Then they enjoy it more, too. Win/win, for sure! 🙂 ❤

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  8. “No idea why I was looking so stern, someone was probably slurping their tea”… man this cracked me up. First thing I thought when I looked at the picture was, gee why is Marcia looking so stern with her hands on her hips?

    I haven’t done any local promo for my debut, and I won’t. There’s a very good reason for this: I don’t want to be known locally as a writer. We’ve had this conversation before, but I’ll say again, my writing style is very dark, gruesome, fantasy etc, which doesn’t ‘poll’ so well in the circles I move (manager of a retirement village, known as straight-laced, small rural town). I’d rather keep that part of me quietly tucked away from the locals 🙂 It’s one of the reasons I considered a pen-name. Ultimately, didn’t do it because I’m proud of my writing…I just don’t want to fend off the locals who wouldn’t be as proud, and would ask “why on earth do you write such horrible things?”

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    • Sometimes these folks who do afternoon teas get rowdy, you know, in which case I must instill ORDER. That involves a hands-on-hips dressing down. Especially if they are getting rowdy at my expense. 😀 I have one or two regulars who LOVE to tease me, and they must be made to behave. In particular, there’s one gentleman who arrives (with his lovely wife) and I greet him with “Uh-oh. Here comes Trouble.” He always has some new thing set up to tease me about. I love them both dearly! And miss them, too. Can’t wait for it to be safe enough to get out there again.

      BUT I definitely understand your reluctance to advertise to your local readers. And having just finished Guns of Perdition, I can see that many folks in retirement communities would not call it their cup of tea. It’s a great read and I enjoyed it very much, myself, but I’m not sure I’m your typical senior citizen. (I do think you and I need to have a serious talk about that ONE scene, young lady!! And I’m sure you know the one I mean! 😀 )

      So, okay. You might have to think about building a local readership in a not-so-local place. 😉 Maybe a book fair in a town in the next county. Or state. 😀 Or you can stick to marketing on social media, etc, and preserve your local anonymity that way. You might just be that writer who doesn’t need her neighbors talking about her latest book. 😯

      But thanks for stopping by today, anyway, and taking a few minutes to remind us that we are each different, and have to find ways that fit us and our work. Whatever you choose, I wish you good luck, Jessica!

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      • Hahaha, that gentleman who you greet with ‘uh oh, here comes trouble’… I think I know him! 🙂 And I bet you’ve never done ANYTHING to derseve such teasing 😉

        I think some of my hesitation also comes from not enjoying talking about, reading about, hearing about my own work. I like to get it done, get it out there, for people to read and enjoy, and full stop. I get waaaay too embarressed if people enjoy it and want to praise it, and waaaay too upset if people criticise it. Guess I just have to work on that thicker skin.

        You only need to have a serious talk about ONE scene in GoP? Phew. There were about half a dozen I was nervous about!

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      • I’ve been reading horror and other sorts of scary stories since I first discovered them at around age 12, when I really got into reading everything I could get my hands on. I devoured Poe, Lovecraft, and every horror writer since. Now, my reading tastes are widely varied, so by no means is that all I read, but I do enjoy a good, scary book. I was having a very good time with yours, but I will say that one scene–just before the end–was a shocker I was NOT expecting it, and I had to put the book down until I could breathe again. (Yes, you made a pitiful old lady CRY! Shame on you!!! 😉 ) Seriously, the book is very good and I would recommend it to those who love to be fascinated (weird westerns–who knew?) and scared at the same time. But still. I should give you a stern talking to, as we say around these parts. Holy Moly. 😯 Gruesome? Yes, there was definitely a big helping of grue. But good on you for writing something that shocked the heck out of me. 😀 I’ll be watching for the next in the series, but you won’t sneak up on me a second time. I’m prepared! 😀

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    • It’s a mindset, Denise. First of all, I never think of them as speeches or lectures. I like to make it very informal, more or less like i’m leading a nice chat. I give my little spiel about a slide, then ask for questions, and we have some back and forth or a laugh or two, then I move along. It puts me at ease, and by the time it’s all over, even the shyest folks in the audience are asking questions or sharing things with the group. Fun/fun.

      Another thing I prefer is to avoid anything like a stage. I want to be able to walk over to folks when they ask a question, and sort of be part of the group, rather than separated from them. That makes it cozier, I think, and less intimidating to me. You might think about ways to make that happen. Do a practice story reading for children at the library, or something similar, just to get used to being the one doing the talking. It might help a bit. And if you ever give this a try, I’ll bet you’d find it isn’t as dreadful as you’re imagining. 🙂

      Having said all of that, it would be lovely to see your smiling face at one of my talks! And just as lovely to hear you’ve decided to try your own one day. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

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  9. What a great list of possibilities, Marcia, especially once COVID disappears. I loved your stories and photos/illustrations. You made marketing sound fun! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Gwen. For me, this type of marketing IS fun, on all sorts of levels. And if you do try it out (once it’s safe to do so), I hope you’ll share your experiences. I’ll be very interested in how it works for you. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, John. Yeah COVID threw a monkey wrench into life as we know it, especially anything that draws an audience. But I have faith that sooner or later, we will be able to resume most of our normal activities. Until then, we can devote some time to thinking about fun presentations, putting together a PowerPoint slide show, researching facts and interesting tidbits we’d like to share, and in general, making sure we’re ready to go when things open up again. I hope you’ll be able to find ways to make these ideas work for you when that time comes. And yep! Selling yourself is what it’s all about. (Isn’t it always? 🙂 ) I know you can find ways to do this when the time is right, and I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes for you. Good luck, John!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve done several of these, Marcia, with various degrees of success. I’m nowhere near the level you are at, but in all cases, I was contacted by the club or society because someone had given them my name. It made me feel great to have a reputation as a local author. I did one with a book club on writing, but my others were all with various societies with my presentations focused on urban legends, or the Mothman. I can talk about them forever, LOL! And, yes, I sold books 🙂

    I know many places are no longer hosting engagements like these (my library recently cancelled a local author festival), but I’m hoping once fears of COVID-19 are no longer rampant, small groups may start up again. I am always SO NERVOUS a presentation, but I have loved every single one of them, and would do it again if the opportunity arose.

    I loved hearing your story and how you got started! This was a fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Mae! And I’m glad you’ve already gotten your feet wet giving some of these. (I remember your pictures of your beautiful table set-up!)

      Yes, sadly, right now is not a good time for giving talks, but it’s an excellent time for developing a plan and putting together presentations so you’re ready-set to go when venues open up again. I had 25 talks scheduled from January to November this year, and only got to give one before the … er … virus hit the fan! 😦 However, I have faith that things will return to a more normal state, and venues will reopen for talks again at some point. And I’ll be ready! In fact, I’ll be able to re-use some of my older talks, because there are always those who missed them the first time around. So as soon as it’s safe, I’m set to go.

      And yes, after word got out about my talks, I began to get invitations from other groups, and it IS a wonderful feeling! But I assure you, everybody gets nervous. I still do on my drive to the event. Every time, I’m frantically worrying about whether I packed everything, and if this presentation is going to go over as well as I’d like, and if anyone will show up. (Of course, I’ve always said that the size of the group doesn’t matter to me. I’ll talk to one man on a street corner if he’s interested in my books or Florida wildlife. 😀 😀 😀 )

      Hope you’ll think more about this for future possibilities. I know I’D love to come hear you talk. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • You might try making your own opportunities by contacting some of the places I mentioned below. I think you’d likely be GREAT at this, Craig. And you don’t have to sell print copies if you sell yourself. Just give out brochures or bookmarks, etc, with your titles featured, and Buy Links on them. If they have fun listening to you, they’ll visit Amazon to check out your books on their own. Plus, I always have some folks in my audiences who prefer eBooks, and will apologize to me for not buying a print copy. They DO buy the books after my talks, as I have a marked uptick in eBook sales after each one.

      It’s definitely more about selling yourself and finding local readers who will become permanent fans. Then they’ll follow you online, and they’ll check out your new books. AND you can have them sign up for a newsletter while there, too. Lots of ways to make it work for you and you needs. Hope you’ll give that some thought, Craig. I know I’D come hear you talk! 😀

      And the eco-tour is ALWAYS fun. You never know what you’ll see, from eagles, ospreys, and swallow-tailed kites overhead, to alligators and manatees in the water. I’m telling you, if you guys ever get down here, I’ll take you out as my guests and you’ll have a great afternoon. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Today, it’s my turn to share a post on Story Empire, and I’m talking about Building a Local Readership. This is one of my very favorite things I’ve had happen since I started writing. I hope you’ll come by and check out the post, then pass it along to others, so you can ALL try some of these opportunities to introduce yourself and your books in your own communities. Thanks so much! 🙂 ❤


  12. I’ve done a few and they’ve all gone well, but I hate them. Even though I was a professor for a couple of years, I’m not comfortable at the front of the room as the center of attention. To teach, not a problem. To “sell” myself and my work? It makes me itchy. (Most of the themes of my writing don’t easily convert to speeches on other topics, and I can’t really think of a subject, other than writing, that I’m an expert in.)

    In the ones I did, the people were great and I eventually relaxed enough to fun, but the thought of planning to do it regularly is not for me. That said, I know how effective public speaking can be, both as a sales tool and as a fan-builder. And I think it’s great you’ve found a niche that works so well for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sorry you weren’t able to enjoy yourself at things like this. I just have such a good time sharing things I love with the group (and making them laugh, because I thoroughly enjoy providing some comic relief) that I like encouraging others to give it a try. But you are right. It’s not for everyone. And if you’re sure it’s not your thing, then you are wise not to force the issue. It would become a burden, and then you’d hate it.

      Again, for me, the trick is to make it a fun chat, rather than a lecture. I sneak in a LOT of info, for sure. But most of all, I want the group to be having fun as they learn. Why else would they be there? It’s not like a class they need to take for credit or anything. And somehow, when they have fun, so do I. Plus, they often share things they’ve seen or done that teach me things, as well, and I really enjoy that, too.

      I can’t even tell you how much I love the people I’ve met, and it’s one of the worst things about being quarantined this long. I miss them terribly, and can’t wait for it to be safe to resume these events. And oh, yeah–sell some books, too. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I’ve done a couple speaking engagements — one with a local book club and one at a book fair.. The president of the club was in a writing group that I used to belong to and she invited me to speak at the Halloween meeting because I had written a paranormal romance that was not the typical werewolf, vampire, zombie book. the book fair was hosted by a local market that was promoting local authors and a friend gave them my name and they contacted me.

    You never know who will ask you to speak. But, as you said, you can always do the legwork yourself.

    I enjoyed speaking at these engagements and did sell my books.

    Great post, Marcia.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing, Michele. I have grown to love speaking to these folks, too. Of course, I have some regulars (I call them my groupies) so I almost always have some familiar faces in the audience, and that makes it a whole lot easier. (I get big hugs as the room fills up, too, which I love. I’m hoping it will one day be safe to enjoy those again!)

      I highly recommend finding a place or two where you could schedule a few talks throughout the year. Whatever works for YOU in that regard, because you never want it to become an obligation that you are stressing to achieve. My audiences take copies of my schedule of events with them when they leave, and some of them come to every talk I give! That absolutely amazes me. I hope I’ll be able to reach that point again when we are able to start the programs back up.

      Glad you enjoyed the posts, Michele. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, and I hope you’ll consider seeking out some new venues, too. 🙂 Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I haven’t done anything like this “yet.” But a friend asked me if I would be interested in speaking at various places and encouraged me to do so. Another is involved with our local library and wants to arrange a book signing day for me some time in the future. I’ll get there one day!

    Great post.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It’s not nearly as hard as you might think, Joan. I’m often uncomfortable in public situations, but in these cases, you are in control of the atmosphere. If you are speaking to a group, there are lots of ways to make it easy and fun. As I mentioned to Jaye, my favorite is to start by making eye contact with one person and talking to them. Then you gradually do that again. It begins to feel like a chat instead of a lecture, and if you can break the ice with a joke or two, it gets easier still. I know you’d enjoy it, and I hope you find out for yourself soon. You’ll have fun and sell books at the same time. What could be better? 😀 Good luck!

      Liked by 2 people

      • No, I didn’t think you would, Joan. Didn’t mean it to sound like that. Mostly, I’m just very enthusiastic about the idea and hoping to encourage you and others to give it a try. Hope you’ll be able to find time to do so, though it is a lot harder for those who work a full-time “regular” job. You’ll have fun if you are ever able to work it into your already busy schedule, even just once or twice a year. 🙂


    • It has been a terrific, enriching experience for me, all the way around. Especially coming at a time in my life when I wasn’t expecting anything new and different to come along. And the eco-tours are AMAZING. Doug is still a good friend of mine, though Jeannie passed away a couple of years ago. The tours are starting back up again, though much smaller groups, to allow for social distancing. But when they are back underway in the normal manner, and I feel safer about going out, I’ll be along on them, for sure. I’ve been going on that tour several times a year since my back made me give up canoeing, which is how I knew them long before I wrote Swamp Ghosts. The rest was serendipity! 😀 You’d love it, I know. Everyone should take a ride on the Naiad at least once! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jaye. Surprisingly, I don’t always do well in public situations, either. I have to feel comfortable. Here’s how I’m able to do it: I find a topic I’m very comfortable with to build a program around. Then, I find one person in the audience to talk to, at first. ONE friendly face. It’s easy to talk to one person for a minute or two. And once you realize you are just having an individual conversation with one person, you include another, and soon you are looking at them all as individuals, instead of a big ol’ group of strangers.

      And I always encourage them to ask questions AS WE GO, feeling it’s more fun to be chatting than giving a lecture. This loosens them up, and we get a good back and forth underway. I show a slide, give some facts and–important!–a FUNNY line or two about the critter (or whatever). A laughing audience is having fun, and that’s always good. Everyone has a better time that way, including me. 🙂 I think you’ll be surprised at how well that can work. Good luck!! And be sure to let us know if you give it a go.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hang in there, Robbie. When the dust finally settles, things will go back to something akin to normal, and you and your group will be able to build on this idea. It’s the most rewarding thing you can imagine! Good luck!!

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Thanks, Marcia. Going out into the real world to find readers is my favourite pastime – in normal times! Most unusual place I’ve signed books in the past? The local pharmacy – who actually sold my books for me as well. Ah, normal times!! x

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree, Judith. I had 25 presentations scheduled this year from February through November. I got to do ONE, then they came to a screeching halt. Eventually, after discussing the situation with the main venues, we cancelled them all until further notice. Neither place is ready to return to having guest speakers and audiences yet.

      But I have faith that things will someday go back to normal, and while the momentum has been stopped, I don’t think it will take long for my “regulars” to start attending again. Once that happens, new folks will come back, too. LOVE your experience with the pharmacy. You just never know where you can make those contacts and find local support.

      Thanks for stopping by and letting us hear from you today. And here’s hoping it won’t be too much longer before we can pick up where we left off! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 3 people

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