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Headshot glassesFrom Written Word to Spoken Word

Tips by author and speaker Cheri Cowell

One of the most frequent questions asked of me at writer’s conferences is “If I speak on my book and tell them everything that is in there, why would they then buy the book?” When I first began writing and speaking, I was fearful of the same thing. However, I quickly learned three valuable lessons.

1. Lesson One: Don’t Speak on Your Book- Speak on a Topic for Your Target Audience

You’ve seen it on television, the “expert” author who’s every other word is, “In my book…” Even worse, they tease the audience, only giving two of six tips “available in their book.” These self-promotional gimmicks rarely cause someone to run out and buy the promoted book, and often has the opposite effect, causing resentment not future readers. The solution is to not speak directly on the information covered in your book, but instead look through your book for jumping off topics.

For example, my first book, Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life is about spiritual discernment and seeking God’s will. I do not speak directly on “seeking God’s will,” rather I’ve developed speaking topics on three related topics: Hearing From God in a Noisy World (in which I cover six key obstacles to hearing God’s voice), Destination Joy (in which aligning our wills with God’s is one of seven points), and Seizing God Given Opportunities (steps to take after following my six-question spiritual discernment process). Begin by looking at an outline of your book. What are the concepts your book touches upon, even if just tangently, that if developed further, may interest your readership?

2. Lesson Two: Seek to Serve Your Readers, Not Sell Books

In the example above of the author who teases her audience by only giving two of six tips “available in her book,” the author has made one of the most common new author mistakes- seeking to sell books rather than serving the reader. This is one of the biggest misconceptions of marketing. You cannot give away too much information. If you hear nothing else in this article, hear this. The one who gives the most away, gains the most. Sound familiar? Yes, it applies to marketing your book the same as it applies to every other area of the Christian life. I can’t tell you how many times people have thanked me for giving all six questions in my spiritual discernment process, rather than making them buy my book “to get the rest.” When you feed into people’s lives, they will buy your books. The question is, what can you give away?

3. Lesson Three: Speaking is Not Oral Writing

You may have sat in the audience of someone who simply regurgitated what they’ve written. Boring! Speaking is not simply oral writing, good speaking technique does for oral communication what mastering the craft of writing does for the written word. As simile, metaphor, character development, plot, and pace take mediocre writing to dynamic writing, so storytelling, tempo, pause, using the stage, and gesture take boring speech to engaging presentations. Take the concepts from Lesson One, the give aways from Lesson Two, and add new stories, well-timed and delivered key points, and you will have a presentation that will cause people to flock to your book table.

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3 Thoughts on “From Written Word to Spoken Word

  1. Cheri, Great advice. I learned a lot of these things when I began speaking after the publication of my non-fiction book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. My mission in speaking was to try to help those in the audience heal, only occasionally giving examples from the book. Speaking isn’t writing, but both can be a ministry. Thanks for the way you presented this.

  2. Speaking and writing are certainly ministries with very different approaches. We are blessed to have the opportunity to do both. may God bless you as you heal the brokenhearted through the tools He’s provided.

  3. Cheri: you are very wise in your comments. They also point to your gracious ways. Thanks, Ann Hutchens

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