by Lisa Jordan
After my debut novel released over ten years ago, a close friend mentioned her book club was reading Lakeside Reunion, and she asked if I’d talk at their get-together. I agreed and enjoyed the conversation.
One of the book club attendees worked at our public library and asked if I’d be interested in speaking to another book club. The library had been a huge part of my life growing up, so to talk with readers as a published author…well, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. She passed my name to the adult services librarian who schedules guest authors. The adult services librarian contacted me, and we scheduled the date.
While working out the details of my speaking engagement with the librarian, I learned a few things about speaking at libraries, and I wanted to share five tips with you:
- Be Prepared. During our email exchange, I asked questions about the library’s expectations for guest speakers—expected number of participants, any necessary equipment to be needed, time allotted for speaking, selling of books. By the time my speaking date arrived, I felt confident.
- Be Yourself. I had asked if I should speak about anything in particular. She said, “Be yourself. Readers love to learn more about the writer behind the stories.” I opened my talk with “Everyone has a story to tell, and mine began with a promise.” Then I shared about my writing journey and the way God’s promises allowed a small-town girl’s dreams to become reality. Judging by their body language and eye contact, I assumed the guests were engaged in my talk. When I finished, several asked questions about different aspects of the story creation process and where my writing path was taking me for future stories.
- Be Passionate. During different moments of my talk, tears flooded my eyes, especially as I shared why my first novel was the story of my heart, getting “the call” from my agent and other exciting writing achievements. I made no apologies because that was a part of who I am. I was able to share my faith and my love for Christian fiction without being preachy. And I saw a tear or two in the eyes of audience members.
- Be Generous. At the conclusion of my talk, I gave away two gift baskets containing coffee, tea, cocoa, mugs, chocolate and CBA novels. I donated two large print copies of my books to the library. Also, I made a donation to our Friends of the Library fund to help purchase more books. All of these contributions cost me little, and they can be deducted as business expenses on my taxes. Your contributions to your library are remembered, especially when readers check out your autographed novels and see Local Author stickers on the spines.
- Be Thankful. I thanked the librarian for inviting me, and I thanked the guests for coming to join me. I followed up by sending handwritten thank you notes to the library staff who helped make my first speaking engagement at the library a very memorable experience.
If you’re interested in speaking at your library, get in touch with the staff. Many are excited to have guest speakers, especially if they are local authors. Speaking at your local library and sharing your story is a great way to build community relationships and connect with your local readers. And you may be the inspiration future writers needs to take those first steps into making their dreams become reality.5 Tips for Speaking at Your Local Library by @lisajordan. #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Represented by Cynthia Ruchti of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa Jordan is an award-winning author for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope & happily ever after. Her latest book, His Road to Redemption, released in January 2022. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.com.