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Speaking at Your Local Library

by Lisa Jordan

Last November, my friend mentioned her book club was reading my first novel, Lakeside Reunion, and she asked if I’d like to come and talk at their November meeting. I agreed and enjoyed the conversation I had with them.

One of the book club attendees works as the business manager at my local library and asked if I’d be interested in speaking at our library. I agreed. She passed my name to the adult services librarian who schedules guest authors. The adult services librarian contacted me, and we scheduled a date for March.

While working out the details of my speaking engagement with the librarian, I learned a few things about speaking at libraries:

1. 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.

2. 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 begins 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 now.

3. Be Passionate. I’m a card-carrying member of the Weepy Women’s Club. I cry over happy moments, tissue commercials and sharing my heart. During different moments of my talk, tears flooded my eyes, especially as I shared why Lakeside Reunion was the story of my heart, getting “the call” from my agent and other exciting writing achievements. I made no apologies because that’s 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 audience.

4. 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 first two books-Lakeside Reunion and Lakeside Family-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.

5. 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 success.

Speaking at your local library is a great way to build community relationships and connect with your local readers.

LisaJordan2x3Headshot

Lisa Jordan writes contemporary Christian romance for Love Inspired. Her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, won the 2012 Carol Award for short contemporary romance. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such. Learn more about her at www.lisajordanbooks.com.

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6 Responses to Speaking at Your Local Library

  1. Roxanne Sherwood Gray says:

    I love, love libraries and think your tips about visiting your local library are great.

    I’d love to meet my favorite authors, so I’m sure your visit was a hit. (I wish you’d visit mine!)

    I’d never have thought to bring a gift basket, but I think it’s a wonderful idea. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas.

  2. Way to go, Lisa! Will be bookmarking this post to refer back to if and when I have a speaking engagement. Great tips.

  3. Melissa Tagg says:

    These are such great tips! I worked at my hometown library in high school, so I’m excited to go back there when my book releases. Like Pat said, I’m bookmarking your post to go back and read again!

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    Excellent tips, Lisa! I will have to file this info. so I have it when the need arises.

  5. Becky Wade says:

    I really enjoyed your blog post, Lisa! I’m a huge fan of libraries and you’ve given me about how to engage with my local branches and how to offer them support. Thanks!

  6. Karla Akins says:

    Such wonderful ideas. I especially love the idea of bringing a door prize or two. Good things to know and do.