How to Make a Book That Generates High Paid-Speaking Fees

by Bennett R. Coles

Make a book and watch your paid public speaking fees soar! If you’re an entrepreneurial author writing a nonfiction book to increase the profile of your business, paid public speaking must be a key element of your strategy.

Participation in panel discussions, keynotes and seminars will not only generate new revenue streams through speaking fees and back-of-the-room book sales, but it’ll also establish your credentials as a subject matter expert and authority in your field.

In this article, I’ll show you how to make your book generate speaking revenue that would be much harder to achieve if you were a speaker without a book to back you up.

Start With Free Speaking Events

To generate paid speaking fees, you first need to go through a training process where you can develop your speaking muscle, tighten your delivery and obtain social proof through testimonials and letters of reference.

Like any new activity, public speaking requires a lot of practice in order to get good at it. There are organizations like Toastmasters that can allow you to get training in a safe, supportive and friendly environment, but in my opinion they can be a bit too structured for your purposes.

For an entrepreneurial author like you there’s no substitute for on-the-job training – that is, talking to live audiences and answering their questions. This forces you to be authentic, since you have to think on your feet.

Now, at the beginning, you need to get yourself booked into free speaking opportunities. Fortunately they’re plentiful and easy to land, which will allow you to build a portfolio of testimonials and references that’ll open the doors to paid speaking later on.

Where to Find Free Speaking Opportunities

How do you find free speaking opportunities that are relevant to the subject matter in your book? It depends.

If your audience is B2B, then you can tap into service clubs that attract business audiences, such as Rotary International, Lions, Kiwanis, or business organizations like local chambers of commerce.

They usually conduct weekly or monthly meetings headlined by a speaker, so they’re in constant need for new content. Typically, you’ll be given between 15-20 minutes for your talk with additional time for questions.

If your audience is B2C instead, then you can find opportunities in public libraries, local non-profits and charities, colleges, and local trade associations that cater to your book’s subject.

All of the above invite authors to speak quite regularly and while formats can vary, they tend to follow the same parameters that social clubs use: 15-20 minute talks followed by a Q&A period.

Make Your Book Generate Revenue at Free Events

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While your talk may be not paid, there are several ways that you can generate revenue with your book. For example, you can sell books to audience members after your talk.

You can also request that your book be promoted through the organization’s email list when they announce your event.

And on occasion, local trade associations that may not have a budget for speakers will sometimes purchase book copies in bulk at a discount to distribute to their audience members.

How to Transition to Paid Speaking Engagements

Once you have performed between 20 and 30 free speaking gigs, you’ll have enough experience, testimonials and letters of recommendation from event coordinators to open the doors to entry-level paid engagements.

Typically, you can expect to get between $2,000 and $3,000 for your early paid gigs, and remember that there are always back-of-the-room book sales to be added to that.

Now, you’ll have more discriminating audiences at paid events, so you’ll have to train your speaking muscle to the next level of proficiency. Expect to have to do another 30 or 40 of these before you can “graduate” to the bigger leagues.

Where to Find Paid Speaking Opportunities

For entry-level paid speaking opportunities you’ll want to target local and regional trade associations that run larger meetings and have a budget for speakers. Initially, a Google search for <name of city or town> followed by “trade associations” will give you a good start.

Another Google search that yields results is “call for speakers.” You’ll want to contact event organizers through their websites and develop a relationship – don’t hard sell yourself, just match your topic to their needs in a way that will be of benefit to their audiences.

Once you’ve done 30-40 paid talks in the $2,000-$3,000 range and providing audiences with great, memorable performances at the local and regional levels, you’ll slowly begin to get recommendations to perform at state and national conferences.

At this level, you’ll begin to command paid speaking fees in the $5,000-$10,000 range as the organizations’ budgets increase with the size of the conferences.

How to Generate Even Higher Speaking Fees

To draw higher speaking fees, you’ll need to have a solid track record with your initial book (20-30 engagements at the $5,000-$10,000 level) and then you’ll need to expand your reach and relevance by publishing follow-up books.

Public speakers with multiple nonfiction books are offered on average paid speaking engagements in the $10,000-$20,000 range, and if you’re lucky enough that one of your books becomes a bestseller in your niche, you’ll be able to command fees in the $20,000-$35,000 range.

Next Steps

Now it’s time to write that awesome nonfiction book that’ll open these great new revenue streams for your business or your career.

To get you started on the right path, I’ve written a companion article entitled: How to Write a Compelling Book in 12 Steps; A Must-Read Guide for Nonfiction Authors.

In it, you’ll find the most efficient path to get you from book idea to books at your doorstep, so you don’t end up drifting as you navigate the sometimes-turbulent waters of book publishing.

Best of luck!

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of publishing or promoting a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.


Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.

Here are some related articles I highly recommend:

How to Come Up With Killer Book Titles for Your Nonfiction Book

How to Write a Compelling Book Introduction That Will Move the Needle

How Do I Self Publish My Book? A Guide for Authors With a Business

How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Nonfiction Book?

7 Time-Saving Steps to Publish a Book For Your Business

Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.

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