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Jen author talk

Weaving Stories into our Author Talks

The thirty eager authors looked at me expectantly. Would today be the day they learnt how to take control of their book marketing? 

The ‘19 ways to get book publicity’ may have bombarded their brain a little, but the presentation proves that one can do many things to grow our presence and sell more books. Some of those things only take a few minutes — such as claiming your book at Amazon Author Central — and some take a few hours — like creating an author speech to share around and create interest. 

The thing is, whatever book you write is almost bound in a silo. Nobody will have enough curiosity to order your book unless they either know you’re the expert on a topic they want to learn… or the blurb sounds like just the type of book they’d like to read. That’s why, as an author, you need to get out there and tell stories

Tell stories about an element of the book, e.g. the origin story, why it’s needed. This is important for the audience to identify with you.

Or tell stories and create quotes that sum up your ethos.  Your ethos is what some will relate to and some won’t. It is okay to be controversial, as long as you mind your audience. Don’t talk down to them or assume they have a corporate background.

Look at what The Resilience Project author did. The vulnerable story about Hugh van Cuylenburg’s sister (a tragedy awareness story) was the opener on a talk on resilience to students or macho-seeming rugby players. That’s where he really made inroads.

The way we are wired has a lot to do with the talk’s success.  We are wired to remember emotional stories, and Hugh had at least two highly emotive stories. They each had a different learning. 

Storytelling in your Talks

I’ve been reading Stories for Work (Storytelling for Business) by Gabrielle Dolan. It is an ideal book if you want to write or tell short stories for social media use or speeches. The author divides it into four types of stories:   

  • Triumph
  • Tragedy
  • Tension – your emotional tension in the time
  • Transition – big changes

Dolan also makes the point that your personal brand can shine through in stories that highlight what you value. They can be either personal or work stories but all must contain a bridge from the story across to your intended message, otherwise it’s merely entertainment. 

Clarity about what you stand for will also support the message, as will confidence in its delivery. But it all starts with thinking through what you want others to feel and to take away from the author book talk.

Next time I talk, I’ll tell an authentic story about my early years of ‘hiding’ and then weave in the practical advice for authors. I want authors to take up the idea that they are their own sales force and they can easily market their book.

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